Inside: Silas Thurman
Silas pwning Portland. Photo: Ian Reid
Co-Owner/Operator: Remote Wakeskates
Team Manager: Nike
CEO: The Wakeskate Tour
Alliance: What made you start Remote?
Silas Thurman: Remote came around in 2009. Ben Horan and I were already really close because of all of the Nike stuff, and when the opportunity arose to start something with the help of Justin Stephens we couldn’t pass it up. Ben had always had “Remote” as a name he’d wanted to use so we went with it. It was really great timing and has been a really fun experience with the best people.
A: What made you want to start the Wakeskate Tour and what was the original vision? ST: We did Retention in 2011, which definitely sparked the flame for the tour. Retention went so well and the atmosphere was so incredible we had to have more. Nick and Ben were a big push. I’d ran a lot of events in the past: Hippodrome for three years, which ended up being a stop on the Byerly Toe Jam, and once we did Retention it just made sense. Having a controlled environment for these guys to ride in makes all the difference. Every final of every stop of the tour has been mind blowing. Everyone involved is always freaking out. That’s why we keep doing it. The riding level has increased so much in three years.
A: What do you think has been the biggest reason for its success?
ST: Hands down, the riders. After that it’s just about listening and working with a great crew. We build amazing sites that promote amazing riding and that comes from listening to the riders and working with a great crew. Ryan Dahlem has been very key in coordinating the events. We are always on time, everyone gets to ride a ton, which just makes the events more fun, and most importantly progressive. I know I speak for everyone when I say we take a lot of pride in the tour. From start to finish we really care about the outcome and taking care of people who care about wakeskating. On top of that none of this would be possible if our sponsors didn’t believe in what we are doing. Steve Mateus at Rockstar has had our back and that has really put wakeskating in front of a lot more eyes than we could have imagined.
A: Despite the success of TWT there still seems to be some sentiment inside the industry that wakeskating sales and participation are on a downward trend. Is there accuracy behind that and if so how do you combat it?
ST: That’s a tough question and the answer honestly depends on who you talk to. I am the team manager for Nike with five of the best wakeskaters in the world all on “new” long term contracts, I co-own Remote, and I run The Wakeskate Tour. So on my end things have never been better in the wakeskate industry. Remote is making a big move this year, which will more than double the size of our company within two years. I think it’s just relative. To Remote the small amount of money that these wakeboard companies make from selling wakeskatess is huge, but to them it’s a drop in the bucket on top of wakeboards, kiteboards, wakesurfers, tubes and so on. We are just a wakeskate company and for us the future looks very bright. Don’t read into that the wrong way, though. I’m not knocking anyone and definitely don’t want it read that way. Those big wakeboard companies have done more for wakeskating to date than anyone, but on a financial side wakeskating is just one very small slice of the very big pie of watersports equipment they sell. When your focus is just on wakeskates, like Remote and Water Monsters for instance, there is a lot of room for growth. Growth that a big wakeboard company would probably see as unsubstantial.
A: What’s it like working with and for Nike? With Nike pulling away from so many other action sports, what is their commitment level to wakeskating these days?
ST: I’ve been a team manager with Nike for over ten years now and it’s been one of the best parts of my life. I love wakeskating and at the end of the day I just want to see it grow to its fullest potential, and Nike has been a huge contributor to that. The long term commitment from Nike is there 100%. All of our athletes have multiple year deals and we have a lot to look forward to from Nike and the team in the next few years.
A: With Remote, the Wakeskate Tour, and Nike, what is a typical day like for you?
ST: During the winter it’s mellow: wake up, check and answer emails, deal with phone calls, etc. I do that periodically all day and catch up on stuff around the house, snowboard when the snow’s good. There is a lot of planning for the season and for Remote ordering, etc. It takes months to organize everything. So it’s just about staying on it. You can’t let it all pile up. This winter I helped out my friend’s company Flatline Fabrication with some marketing and other stuff to change the scene a bit. That gave me a little refresh. Once summer hits though it’s a lot of travel plus all the planning and emails. It’s rad because for the most part I make my own schedule, which is what I have aimed to get to, but when it’s busy it’s really busy. You get pulled in multiple directions, and that definitely takes a toll on your personal life. I wouldn’t trade it though.
A: What does wakeskating need to do to grow and survive the next few years?
ST: Surviving isn’t an issue. As long as there are PWCs, boats, winches, and cable parks wakeskating will be fine. I think the biggest place we can grow is in the cable market right now. The more cable parks and System 2.0’s that pop up the more you will see the board sport side of wake grow. Especially if they start taking more time in cleaning up the layout. Boating is amazing and will continue to grow and seems to be doing great right now, but it would be crazy to say that boating will move as many boards or bring as many people into wake as cable parks will. It just evens the playing field a lot and makes it accessible to so many more people – many of which will end up buying a boat anyhow.
A: What, to you, makes wakeskating so unique and special?
ST: I think because of its simplicity. I could hit a flat bar behind my SeaDoo all day long and that’s so simple. Something as simple as a front shuv popped really big and slow is so amazing, not to mention the crazy stuff the guys are doing now. Wakeskating’s possibilities are so endless and the simplicity of it makes it something that I can see a lot of people loving. None of these so-called action sports will ever be skateboarding, but that’s not the point. We all love skateboarding, or at least you should, and wakeskating is just a really fun derivative of that.