2007 ROTY – Randall Harris
2007 Rider of the Year – Randall Harris
by Tony Smith
Editor’s Note: Leading up to the announcement of the 2015 Rider of the Year we are re-releasing pieces of each of the past 14 ROTY articles from the magazine. 2007 was the year Randall Harris not only came back from two years of not touching a wakeboard, but he blew away the sport in the process and subsequently earned the ROTY title.
Over the past decade, beginning from the time I first knew OF Randall Harris and through the years as I’ve gotten to know him personally, two questions have always lingered in my mind – How many times can you be the future, and how many times can you come back? People were always making these kinds of claims on his behalf, and after a while it’s tough to believe. But now the answers seem so damn easy: once, and as many times as it takes. That’s it. The act of just being DEEMED the future is the legacy, not living up to anyone’s expectations of what that future holds. It’s his life, after all. And as far as coming back, well, I think 2007 pretty much put that one to bed.
The bonus, of course, is that Harris has far exceeded what we so desperately wanted to call our own, back when he was coronated the Great West Hope at the tender age of 15. That was just about the moves. Watch him today and it’s obvious it’s about so much more than that. It’s about peace and second chances, about blind luck and things we can’t explain, about passion and finally, it’s about love. Love for wakeboarding, sure, but also love for himself and obviously for God. Whether that’s your thing or not, there’s no denying that is what has resurrected him.
The odd thing about this 2007 Rider of the Year business is that nobody saw it at first. In fact, up until a few weeks ago we still hadn’t nailed it down. I actually called an emergency meeting of the former ROTY’s to get them to lock down their yearly vote, and literally ended up presiding over a table of chicken wings and apathy. Danny and Rusty with their 1080’s? Parks made a nice win at the Carnival, right? Collin Harrington has been doing some cool all-around waterman things. “What about Randall Harris?” I asked. And then the stories started pouring down. Everyone had something to say, and all of it resonated. After 10 minutes of non-stop talk the table reached a 10-second silence, which Parks broke by saying, simply, “I think we just decided it.” This may sound strange, but I felt like it was some sort of divine intervention. Maybe the Big Guy really is trying to deliver wakeboarding someone special. If you watched Randall Harris over the past year, I don’t think there’s any problem in believing that.
“If you look back on where he’s come from this year, or where he’s come back from really, it’s pretty easy to see why he’s the Rider of the Year. To not ride for two years and then come out and do what he did was pretty amazing. I mean everyone saw him ride in a couple contests this season, but his style of riding is just so much more visible in a video section. And towards the end of the year people saw his sections in Transgression and it got everyone talking. Just the way he does all his tricks…I remember seeing that double up shot in the movie of his backside 180, and it’s all in slo-mo and it’s just perfect. Plus he grabs for so long and goes so big, and does all those wrapped tricks that no one really messes with, so just style-wise alone he’s on a different plane. And everything in his personal life that he’s overcome – being able to come back and ride a wakeboard as well as he does after not riding for two years – he’s just got such a drive now, he’s fueled, and he has all this motivation. I guess what it comes down to is that he just loves to ride a wakeboard, and it shows.” – Brian Grubb, 2001 ROTY
“It wasn’t until this year, while filming with Sean Kilgus for his new movie, Drive, that I finally got
the chance to ride with Randall. I think for anybody that has been wakeboarding as long as I have the anticipation of that moment is pretty great. I can remember being really excited going out to the lake that first morning, and straight out of the gate, he didn’t let me down. I saw him do some of the most difficult things that could be done on a wakeboard during that first set – back-to-back (switch and regular) backside 5’s, melan crow mobes, grabbed front mobes – all the way into the flats and not just carrying the trick out, but up as well. Jeff McKee was on the trip as well and we were laughing in astonishment during every one of Randall’s sets. I also saw him do what I am going to claim is one of the hardest things anybody can do off the wake without passing the handle. Coming in switch toeside, full Randall-style edge, he booted into a frontside 270 to perfect regular method about 20 feet past the second wake. I’m not sure how many people understand the control it takes to do something like that, but I know if I tried it, it wouldn’t be pretty. You can watch someone do mobe 5’s all day long, but the precision that it takes to do what Randall did so well this year is extremely rare.” – Ben Greenwood, 2005 ROTY