Editor’s Note: In the May issue of Alliance we featured a handful of short, to-the-point interviews titled “No Filter.” We wanted to reach out to riders currently going through interesting or different parts of their careers and ask them relevant questions that we knew fans and readers would be interested in. We didn’t want to beat around the bush or talk about what they had for breakfast or if they prefer dogs or cats. We wanted to get to the point. In the end we did just that and “No Filter” was a big hit among both readers and the pro riders. Here is one of the interviews from that section, with Steel Lafferty.


No board sponsor? No problem. Steel making it work with whatever suits his fancy. We’d like to think he has lots of fancy suits, too    Photo: Jason Lee

Alliance: What’s it like not having a board sponsor right now?

Steel Lafferty: It is weird going into a season and not having a board sponsor right now, but I actually haven’t been too worried about it. I’m fortunate enough to have the backing of some the best sponsors in wakeboarding and they each provide me with a great platform to be a pro rider. Obviously having a board sponsor is a big thing, but I want to ride for a company that supports me – I don’t just want to sign a contract so I can start collecting a paycheck. So I’ve actually been able to take my time and try out a bunch of different boards from a bunch of different brands and it’s been kind of fun. I’m really enjoying the board I’ve been riding recently and it’s been fun learning about different companies’ and shapers’ processes for making a board and how they ride. I haven’t signed with a company yet (Feb. 17), but I’m feeling confident. Even if I don’t sign on somewhere this year I’ll just ride as a free agent and ride whatever board is going to allow me to do my best and ride the way I want to ride. Hopefully that would then lead to something heading into 2015.

A: Is it harder to find a sponsor in January and February than in the fall around Surf Expo?

SL: Without a doubt. To be perfectly honest I really thought I’d be riding for Liquid Force this year. I had a pro model that was supposed to come out two years ago, but it never did. I don’t know exactly why… I don’t know, getting a pro model board has been a dream of mine and it’s sort of that next big step for me in terms of my wakeboarding career. It can be devastating when you work for something and have plans and promises to make something happen but then it never does. It almost takes the love out of what you do, but I love wakeboarding and I’d never leave because a pro model board didn’t come out. Anyway, I thought I was going into another contract with LF, but I guess they had other plans. I’m at a point where, like I said earlier, I want to take my time with things now and find a company that’s a good fit for me and that I feel is pushing the sport a way that I agree with.


A: What are you going to do to stay relevant in 2014?

SL: This is going to be a big year for me, especially because I’m coming off an injury from last year. I feel really good though, and I’m really excited. I’m filming for Prime, which will be my first full-length video that I’ve been a part of. I really want to make a statement and really show people what I’m capable of.

I’m also going to focus on the four PWT stops. I’d really like to do well this year. I feel confident and I’m excited to come back strong and compete at all of them this year.


A: Are you worried about your status with Red Bull after seeing JD and Adam not get new contracts?

SL: No, I’m pretty confident, I don’t feel any pressure. Red Bull has been awesome to work with and they’ve been awesome to me, so I’m not really worried at all. I’m just really excited for this season.


A: Who and/or what gets you stoked on wakeboarding today?

SL: Right now for me it’s filming for Prime with Sean Kilgus. That’s what’s really keeping me motivated. Wakeboarding is my passion and everybody can get down on something they love when things aren’t seemingly going right, but you gotta use all the bad things that have happened in your career as motivation. If you let everything that’s happened, be it injuries, or bad things with sponsors, or bad contest results get to you then you’ll never achieve the dreams you set for yourself. So I’m using all of the things I’ve been through over the past year as motivation and I really think 2014 is going to a good year for me and for wakeboarding as a whole.


A: Who and/or what gets you bummed out about wakeboarding today?

SL: I don’t know. Like I was saying about using bad things as motivation, I think I’ve tried to not worry about being bummed out on anything. Once you start looking at different things that bum you out and really focusing on them you can get stuck on it, and that can be a hard rut to climb out of – it makes you lose sight of everything you can be stoked on.