No Filter – Shane Bonifay
Foggy hood mornings, Shane’s specialty. Photo: Cortese
Alliance: You’ve basically been off the water for a year or more because of a foot problem. How hard has that been to deal with?
SB: I think I was on the water maybe 510 times last year, and I’d say in the last two weeks I’ve already ridden four or five times, so I’m slowly getting back into it. I wouldn’t call it a comeback or anything, I just want to get back to being able to ride my wakeboard. This last year was so boring. You just don’t realize how much time you actually spend wakeboarding or doing something normal I couldn’t even walk normally for nine months until you can’t do them. Watching your friends go out and do shit like wakeboard, or golf, or snowboard, or surf is the most painful.
A: What do you plan to do to stay relevant in 2015?
SB: Well I’m going to be announcing the Monster Energy Wake Park Triple Crown events again, so I’ll make sure to say my name a lot just to keep it out there and relevant (laughs). But I’m also going to be competing too, which I didn’t get to do last year. My main goal is to try to announce myself on the podium… because I have to do the awards stuff, too. So if I can go, “And coming in in third place make sure you give a big round of applause to… ME! Give it up for me, everybody!” (laughs) I’d also really like to get on a solid web video filming project this year. Before I got hurt I was on a massive mission to try to be the first guy to land a double Pete Rose (off a kicker). It’s actually how I got hurt. So I’m really looking to put out some stuff this year and keep my name out there let people know I’m still riding. A lot of people still think I’m just a boat rider they don’t realize I ride more cable now. I haven’t had a boat sponsor for two years. Cable is a lot of fun, I think I’ve ridden it 70-80% of the time the past couple years.
A: Is it hard being known as a boat rider and losing a boat sponsor? Has that changed the way you approach or look at the sport?
SB: I think my approach was already changing even when I was still sponsored by MasterCraft, I mean I’ve been hitting rails and kickers for years. As parks grew and advanced I started riding them more. I like being able to do some of my boat tricks off of a kicker and then have some fun rail options right after. And it’s not like I was cut from MasterCraft and said, “Okay, I’m only going to ride cable now.” At the time I wanted to try to pick up a new sponsor because I was still riding a lot and riding well, but I got hurt shortly afterward and it’s been a tough go since. The hard part about losing a longtime boat sponsor was getting cut and feeling like you weren’t being told the truth as to why. We had a meeting as team riders about riding without vests and we all agreed to always ride with vests. Four months later a video came out called “Liquid Force Leftovers 2012” or something like that and there was a fivesecond clip of me barefooting behind a PWC. I wasn’t wearing a vest, but we were messing around with a new GoPro boom Collin wanted to test out. After that video I got cut and it’s like, “Really?” At least tell me if you want to cut me for financial reasons like you want to pay somebody else more. But don’t fire me for a reason that has nothing to do with my job or yours. Whatever though, those things happen. I think I was always the loose cannon on that team and they found an opportunity to get rid of me and took it. Parks and Rusty had to stick up for me for a long time to keep me on the team. I think they thought somehow I was hurting their brand or something this guy wearing his leather jacket and not riding in the PWT, but they ran all my ads and shot my marketing stuff with me hitting rails. I don’t know, it was weird.”
A: Are you all aboard the potential of cable and the growth of it? What about private parks?
SB: For sure, the vibe at cable parks is really fun. The private parks are cool, too, if you have an invite (laughs). I ride at Area 52 with Henshaw a lot and it’s cool he lets so many people ride there, but I can see how it could be frustrating if you knew all these guys with private parks and didn’t have an invite. A lot of the guys I’m friends with Parks, Danny, Rossiter, Dom, Ruck, etc ride at Lake Ronix 70-80% of the time, so I’m not riding with them much anymore. So if those guys were doing that and I didn’t have an invite to Henshaw’s, I’d hate private parks (laughs). I’ve actually been out to Lake Ronix now though. I know it was a sort of running joke for a while that I couldn’t go hang out with my own brother and watch him ride there, but they’ve loosened up some of the secrecy there and I got to go check it out not too long ago.
A: What bothers you about where the sport is at right now?
SB: It’s not the thing that bothers me the most, but staying up on the sport is getting really hard. You have to check alliancewake.com and a bunch of other sites and social media more than once a day. These kids come around and it’s like, “Where the hell did you come from?” I mean, that’s a great problem for the sport because it means it’s growing, but I have a problem staying up to date on it. There’s just so much stuff… maybe that’s the problem, people film everything and put it up and maybe it’s diluting the quality. There’s a fine line between having a lot of good content that you want to see and just garbage that ends up wasting your time.
A: Do you think with so much demand for video content that it is actually hurting the supply and degrading the quality? Is the sport too concerned on quantity instead of quality?
SB: Well, I know I need to make a video and I want to put in some work and make it legit, but I don’t want it to be forgotten in a few days either, you know? I don’t want to spend six months filming something that’s just going to disappear. That didn’t happen back in the day. A rider could make a good section and it would get talked about for a year or more. I would rather see edits like Raph’s where riders take their time and make something that is memorable and mindblowing, but I don’t like that if I don’t release my video at a certain time right around Surf Expo it might not be considered as good. Or that if the right people and sponsors aren’t hyping it, not enough people will see it. It’s the Catch22 of the Internet, I guess. Back in the day the only way people knew about wakeboarding was what they saw in a video, read in a magazine, or witnessed at a contest. Now there is social media, websites, and forums; and every rider can post their own pictures and videos. So now if ten riders all go on a team trip to the Philippines we all have to see everything ten different ways. It’s a little obnoxious, but it’s the way things are (laughs). I don’t know, it just gets old trying to sift through everything in hopes of seeing something good. Being a pro really is different with all of the social media stuff though because brands are putting a lot of demands on riders to constantly post things and tag them and stuff. Be careful though, kids, you might go out for a goofy barefoot session without a life jacket behind a jet ski to test out a GoPro shot and find yourself without a boat sponsor…
A: Is it seemingly harder for riders to get a good, paying sponsorship now than ever before?
SB: It’s harder for me now that I’m 30, I know that for sure! (laughs) I mean, if you were a company are you going to sponsor a kid like Daniel Grant who’s still a teenager and has rubber limbs and can do anything, or me, King Nose Press? (laughs)
A: Looking back now what does Pointless mean to you?
SB: Those are probably the years I’ll look back and tell my kids were the best years of my life and career. Looking back now and realizing what were able to do collectively as a group, it’s pretty insane. None of us could have done anything close to that individually, but we all came together as friends and had a lot of fun filming and pushing each other, and that ultimately had a big impact on the sport. Over the years we’ve always talked about doing another video or if we could have done more as a group, and I think we all know we could have, but even without that the mark we made on the sport is special to all of us.
A: What has you stoked about wakeboarding right now?
SB: Being back on the water. When you’re off the water for a while you realize how much you miss it, even when it’s brutal. I remember my mindset when I was trying to land the double Pete and I was being pretty hard on myself, but looking back at least I was able to be on the water, you know? I’d trade being off the water and bummed out for being on the water, but angry about trying something hard any day.