Focal Point – 15.6
Make it Happen
by Garrett Cortese
Ten years ago Thai Wake Park didn’t exist, now it’s a field of dreams for riders around the world
More and more often these days I’m finding myself in a reflective mood. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and turning sappy. Or maybe it’s because as Editor I’ve been looking back more regularly in an attempt to stay true to Alliance’s roots while also pushing forward for new growth. Probably both. Whatever the reason, whenever I find myself in one of those moods, I can’t help but smile and think about how lucky I am. This issue of Alliance marks my ten year anniversary as an employee of the magazine. When Bill McCaffray and Tony Smith first hired me as a managing editor and I moved from California to Florida, I told them I didn’t see myself staying more than five years… Needless to say it’s been an amazing ride. Really, there is only one cliché I can think of that fits how I feel: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say any…” I kid, I kid.
When I started at Alliance in May of 2005 wakeboarding and wakeskating were growing at a breakneck pace. Parking lot rail jams were all the rage, Liquid Force was raging at Lake Powell, Ronix and Slingshot didn’t exist, while Double Up and Gator Boards still did, and a little show called “Pull” was about to begin production on the formerly awesome channel formerly known as Fuel TV. The magazine itself was in its first year of being printed with a perfect binding (glue and flat spine, rather than staples and folds), the cover boy was Mike Schwenne on the Delta, and one of the Overheard quotes read: “‘Everything.’ – Melissa Marquardt when asked what sucks about Florida.” Fast forward one decade and one economic recession later and a lot has changed in our sports. That breakneck pace came to a screeching halt. Old brands died. New brands came and went. And some new brands survived and became major players. Wakes got bigger and bigger while cameras got smaller and smaller. Parks exploded while, thankfully, parking lot rail jams ceased to exist. Of course, the progression never stopped, and I have been lucky enough to have a front row seat to all of it.
Rather than focusing on how much wakeboarding and wakeskating have changed, progressed, and evolved over the last ten years, I’d rather look ahead to the next ten; and issue a challenge. If all of what happened over the last decade is possible, imagine what the next decade holds. The only question is who is going to lead us there? Therein lies the challenge. Can the passion that pushed wakeboarding and wakeskating the last ten years be harnessed and carried on through the next ten? Don’t think that I’m just challenging riders to step up and progress, either, because it takes more than riders to push our sports forward. It takes all sorts of people from a variety of places: board shapers, boat designers, cable park operators, boat dealers, pro shop employees, members of the media, and more. This is a challenge to everybody. To all of those people I just mentioned, to all of the riders, and to myself. What are you going to do to keep the sports we love growing and progressing?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking at this as some kind of JFK “ask what you can do for your country…” type of moment, but if you read back through my last few Focal Point columns, you’ll see a connected theme. Firstly, the generation responsible for the biggest push and progression the sport has known is getting older and careers are winding down. Secondly, a new generation of young up-and-comers are making waves with their riding. Third, our sports are awesome because they’re full of dreamers; people who love this lifestyle and want to follow their dreams and not only live it, but make it better. That is where the next ten years lie, in the dreams of the next generation. Those of us in the sport now need to help nurture those dreams, because it is through them that what has been accomplished in the last ten won’t be for nought. Are the next generation of riders going to push hard enough to keep wakeboarding awesome? Will the next board designers keep making better products? Can future photographers and video makers continue to showcase the riders and the lifestyle in new, creative ways? In my opinion, without a doubt; and I can’t wait to witness it. This year alone we’re seeing growth in areas that ten years ago didn’t even exist. Wakeboarding is back in the X-Games via Real Wake, arguably the most legit contest in X. Tricks continue to be landed that were once a pipe dream. But now those dreams are reality, and we can make sure the next dreams reach reality, too.
As I look back over ten years and forward to the next I am also reminded that I too am a dreamer. Back in 1996 I had a dream of working as a wakeboarding photographer and making a living hanging out on boats having a good time. I’m proof that if you want something bad enough and work hard at it, you can get it. You can’t necessarily control exactly when or how it happens, but if you continually focus on your goals, hone your craft, and work for it, only good things will happen. I’m grateful for all the good things the last ten years have brought me, which are far too many to list. And they keep coming with every photo shoot, article, and issue of Alliance Wake. If ten years ago you told me that today I’d be writing editor’s letters and still hanging out on boats with riders half my age, I would have told you you’re an idiot, or that I drank too much of the Kool-Aid. Well, here I am, and you know what? The Kool-Aid is delicious.