Focal Point – New Horizons
As 2016 begins to take shape, the shape of wakeboarding is continuing to transform. For some people transformation can be a tough pill to swallow, whereas for others it’s just another wave to ride out (pun sort of intended…) when going with the flow. The anti go-with-the-flow crowd might overreact in the face of transformation and start sounding the Chicken Little sirens. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those, and the sky is not falling. Over the years and throughout its history, if wakeboarding has proven one thing, it’s proven capable of continuing to adapt to changes. What’s really exciting for 2016 is all that is taking place following the momentum of 2015. Remember last year? It wasn’t that long ago, and it was awesome for our sports. Wakeboarding saw unprecedented growth and coverage in both contest and freeriding realms. New cable parks continued to open around the world, introducing our sport to countless new riders. And of course boat sales continued to climb upward. According to research from WSIA (Water Sports Industry Association) towboat sales were up 65% from 2014 to 2015. I’m not good at math, but that’s a lot. Ultimately more people in wake boats is good for everybody.
The evidence is strong: the state of wakeboarding is solid and the sport continues to grow. Granted, many will point to the growth of towboat sales being through the wakesurfing niche specifically, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt wakeboarding. I’ve heard many wonder if or even fear that wakesurfing will ultimately do to wakeboarding what wakeboarding did to water skiing back in the 90’s. Personally, and in speaking with many inside the sport, I don’t see that happening. Wakeboarding thrived in the 90’s because of the seemingly limitless possibilities, and with that it literally outgrew water skiing. Water skiing boats held wakeboarding back; they needed to be bigger and carry more weight – the antithesis of what water skiers want and need. Wakesurfing has grown because of the development of larger and larger wakeboarding boats and wakes. Wakesurfing and wakeboarding are built around the same foundation, and just because boat companies are seeing increased sales through a demand for endless waves doesn’t necessarily mean less people are wakeboarding.
This issue of Alliance Wake is a great view into not only the things that make our sports so awesome, but the momentum each carry heading into 2016. The main feature is an epic trip to Scotland where a crew of amazing riders got to ride some incredible waterways, including the Loch Ness Monster’s home. In what other sport could you actually hang out with your friends on Nessie’s waters and ride? The second feature (and this month’s cover) come from a Nike / Valdosta Wake Compound co-op. The famed wakeskating crew Nike is known for built an incredible setup at VWC and shredded it for a week in ways only they can. Wakeskating, while the smallest of the wake brethren, is still one of the most fun, progressive, and gnarly board sports out there. I know I won’t ever get tired of watching riders like Ben Horan, Nick Taylor, or the Pastura brothers skate on the water. It truly is an art form, and the article in this issue is a perfect example of that. The third feature story is from the LF’n Awesome team trip to Thailand and Thai Wake Park. Not only is the video a great example of both progressive riding and the unparalleled fun that comes with being a wakeboarder, but it’s also a great example of wakeboarding’s growing popularity around the globe. Thai Wake Park, where the LF crew spent most of their time on the trip, always has a line of riders waiting for their turn to do some laps and hit the features. And what’s happening regularly at Thai Wake Park is happening regularly around the world.
I’ve said it countless times over the years, but wakeboarding (as well as wakeskating and wakesurfing) are some of the most fun and unique activities on the planet. Not only are they a lot of fun personally, whether your goal is to learn new tricks and push yourself physically or just get sideways on the water and carve around, but they are a lot of fun socially. That social aspect is what makes the wake sports so special, and that social aspect is what keeps them going and growing. We’ve all gotten the taste of those aspects of wakeboarding and that’s why we love it, and will continue to love it. Even when transformation comes along and brings a sense of change, it can’t change the fun that is had day in and day out on the water. The perception of a transformation can change from case to case and from person to person. The question for you is how do you perceive that transformation and how will you act upon those perceptions? Personally, I’m gonna go ride with some friends, enjoy some winter warmth here in Orlando, and continue putting together the best issues of Alliance Wake possible for you to get your fix.
Enjoy the ride,