“Everything is now judged by the number of clicks and likes. It’s nuts. I just haven’t fully sold my soul yet.”   Photo: Loiselle

AW: Why did you fall off last season and not tell anyone what your plans were?

RD: My sponsors knew what I was up to so they knew my plans. Why would I have to tell everyone that I was going to spend a full season dedicated to a video part? I know the word probably passed around pretty quick about it anyway. I did it because that is what I felt like doing. If I would have done the typical pro wakeboarder year I could have actually gotten more burned out on wakeboarding.

AW: For a year or two it seemed like you won nearly every contest you entered, including Red Bull Wake Open. Do contests matter much to you anymore?

RD: I had really good contests results from 2010 through 2013. I felt like I had proven to myself that I could do this and it was fun because I was trying to do something new and win a new event, or try to win the same one twice in a row or whatever. After those four years I felt like I’d had a full experience with contests, I had nothing else to prove – at least to myself – and that was the most important thing. I didn’t have fun as much anymore because the only reason I was going was to try to not lose the contest because people expected me to win. I have always wanted to spend time on a full video part, not just spend some time in between contests. I decided to go for it. I knew some people wouldn’t like it, but it’s what I wanted to do and focus on.

AW: You have always focused on quality over quantity when it comes to web videos, why is that?

RD: I just want to come out with videos when they are ready and when I am stoked on them. I think a lot of riders love and want to be in people’s face all the time with content on the web. Maybe that works for them, but not for me. I don’t want to be overexposing myself and have people be over my riding because they just know what to expect. And mainly I just hate putting myself out there too much, it keeps it more interesting for me and probably others that I’m not. I just like taking time and coming out with something better – something I’m stoked on, rather than coming out with something every month that isn’t as good. People digest web videos so fast these days. They watch it once or twice and that’s it; then they forget about it. I think you can have a bigger impact on the sport and people watching if you spend longer on a video.

AW: Did Beyond Perception have the impact/effect you envisioned/hoped that it would? How do you follow up a project like that?

RD: I honestly strive to come out with the best edit I can with the time, budget, etc. that I have. That’s the main thing, so I don’t set myself goals of how much impact it can have because I feel like if you do it for the impact it will have on others then you will never be satisfied enough, because you will never impress people enough. I’m happy with the part I came out with and that means a lot to me and I’m happy I was able to do it with my neighbour and good friend Jonathan Ferguson. I’ll follow this project by doing another one with new ideas and it keeps going from there. I think I would like to switch it up and ride with riders and include more people into a video project next time. I’m kind of over thinking, riding and dealing with the pressure myself. (laughs) I’d rather spread all that out in a group of my friends. There is a lot more you can do with a group of people. Hopefully we’ll make that happen soon.

AW: Do you think more riders should focus on being well round and doing everything or do you think the sport should continue to branch out and have riders focus on disciplines like skateboarding and snowboarding?

RD: I think people should do what they feel like doing. I think it was pretty weird to see all the riders changing the way they approach riding just for the Wake Open so they could be overall riders. A contest should not change the way you freeride. Now that the RB Wake Open isn’t around anymore you don’t see the riders trying to do it all. I think it’s great if you only ride boat, and it’s cool if you only ride rails. Do whatever you have the most fun doing. And if you need to switch it up between the two because you are over it, then do it. Do what feels right to you.

AW: You’re more of the quiet type and not known for using social media to promote yourself or interact, does it bother you that so many companies make such a big deal out of how many followers you do to don’t have? What’s your take on social media?

RD: I’m not a huge fan of social media, I think it can be very narcissistic – it blows my mind how everyone just promotes themselves. I honestly don’t see how much value and sales it actually brings to the table. I think they are overrated. Some riders have an unreal number of followers, but their board or vest still doesn’t sell that well. I just hate promoting myself and trying to sell my “dream life” to people. It’s always about showing off and trying to show as many people as possible how good you are. Companies that are sponsoring wakeboarding but that are not really in the sport will look at followers to see how well that rider is doing, rather than looking at results or video and magazine exposure. Everything is now judged by the number of clicks and likes. It’s nuts. I just haven’t fully sold my soul yet.

AW: What do you think of wake getting back in X-games, via Real Wake contest. Is this your perfect combination of shooting a video part and competing? What are your plans?

RD: I think it’s sick that wake is getting back in X-Games this way. I think it’s one of the best ways to showcase the sport right now. It’s a little weird for me to film and compete at the same time, but it is also pushing me harder, so that’s good. As far as some plans, I’d have to kill you guys if I told you… (laughs)

AW: What is the biggest misconception about you?

RD: That I don’t like wakeboarding. I’ve actually heard that before. I would have never gotten good at wakeboarding if I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t have come out with my last video part if I didn’t like it. I can’t do something if I am not 100% down with the idea of it. That’s just me. I pushed myself as best as I could to come out with the best part because I’m passionate about that. Even if I hate saying this sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without wakeboarding.

I think those ideas (of not liking wakeboarding) are probably because I didn’t move to Florida to do the full contest thing, and that I am not doing social media like most. Since people think of me as someone quiet then I can be looked at a certain way. Some people might look at me weird and different and wonder why I don’t do all that, when from my perspective I’m asking myself why everybody thinks their different way. Who knows? (laughs)