Editor’s Note: This is the Matters column from the Photo Annual issue of Alliance (Dec/Jan 2014) written by Derek Cook.


Never say never. Unless it’s nuclear.    Photo: Rodrigo

Some of you might be looking at this photo of me and saying, “What’s up with that crail grab?” That’s one of the forbidden grabs of wakeboarding, a faux-pas of the style conscious, and seriously frowned upon by those in the know. Well, you know what, Wakeboarding? I don’t really care. I ride the way I ride based on what feels right to me.

This photo of a wrapped crail 3 got submitted to all the mags this spring, but it never made it to print. Personally I thought it was my best photo of the year and it came about in a very unplanned way. Trever, Josh, and Randall were all shooting dawn patrol one morning and I was in charge of driving the chase boat. After they were done riding I was juiced to take a quick ride. Both Rodrigo and Trever were shooting so I knew it was an opportunity to get something good. The week before Twelker and I were talking about the crail grab as an option to use on certain tricks (his version is a crail grab backside 180). Five minutes into riding I decided to try some of the wrapped crail 3’s. I did four or five in a row off axis (the way I had been trying them before) and then decided to try a flat spin one. It was my last trick that morning and it felt good. When we looked at the shot and footage everyone was hyped and the results were perfect.

I probably tried 30 crail 3’s before I felt comfortable with them – and they all probably looked horrible. I wasn’t sure that it would look right or even work, but I had an idea in my head of how it should look and I felt like I could work to get to that point. For me it happened to come together during a last-minute freeride after driving chase boat for my Delta Force bros. Why it never made it to print over the summer I can’t really say, I don’t sit in on magazine’s editorial meetings to select photos. Maybe they liked other shots better. Maybe nobody had ever done a crail grab in a “legit enough” way to make it “cool enough” or on a trick that it would look good on. But I’m not one to let a couple “maybes” define how I want to ride my wakeboard. I prefer my own maybes. Maybe it will work. Maybe it will look cooler than I think.

Creativity in your riding will really set you apart from other riders. We’re all riding sideways on the water and for the most part everybody is doing similar things: spins, flips, and adding 180’s. It’s what you do within those spins and flips that can set you apart. These days that sort of ability is more crucial than ever. There are literally tons of riders doing tricks that just a few years ago were considered “pro level.” Most of those riders won’t make it as pros, or anything close to a pro, for that matter. But riders with creativity and drive can start to open doors – Jade Whirley, Alex Graydon, and Austin Pratt are a few guys that come to mind as riders who are fresh on the scene and standing out because of their unique riding. Not that they are the best riders ever, it’s just that each of their approaches to the sport is unique, creative, eye catching, and inspiring. You’re not going to make it into these pages being a cookie-cutter-trick-checking-offer rider.

Progression has more to do with the will to change and the drive to step out of your comfort zone than being good. I could bet that most of the photos you see in this Photo Annual were dreamt up, thought out, and set out to accomplish with the goal of getting a sick shot in the mag. Next time you dream up something a little bit different or a little bit crazy, don’t shy away from trying it. It might not come together right away, but with work and determination who knows?