Inside – Travis Moye
Pro Driver & Owner of The Boarding School
AW: How did you become the “pro wake event boat driver”?
TM: My standard answer is that I lost a bet. But, back in the olden days they actually used to send a questionnaire in the mail to a lot of the riders on tour asking their opinions on who they liked as judges and drivers. No one was that pumped on any of the drivers at the the time, and a lot of guys had ridden with me and knew I could actually drive a boat. Several guys asked if I’d be interested, so I went to drive one to see if I liked it. I’d been in the boat about an hour and they asked if I wanted to do it for the rest of the year. The rest is history.
AW: How many hours of your life have been spent behind the wheel of a boat?
TM: I generally just go by Dan-O’s estimate of one million pulls, but I’m guessing that’s a little high. Doing the math that would be 137 rides a day, every day for 20 years. But, I put about 1,500 hours a year on my boats, and of course I’m not driving the whole time, but I am in it most of the time. It’s a lot! I’ve driven a boat way more days that not ever since I was 10 years old.
AW: Over the years who has been the worst rider to drive for?
TM: Rob Struharik used to be horrible. He was always making unreasonable requests, like driving on the wrong side of the slider (yes, then it was called a slider). Or starting the opposite way off of the dock. Then when you denied him he looked at you like slightly angry and confused.
In latter years I’d have to say Phil. He’s not much fun behind the boat. He likes to complain a lot. Even if he wins, he’ll complain. It’s a weird trait. But, he was arguably the best contest rider for a long time, so I guess it worked. It just made it hard for me to be happy he was on the podium.
AW: Over the years who has been your favorite rider to watch?
TM: There are a lot! Parks used to amaze me. I got to pull him a bit freeriding back in the day and it was always unbelievable, he’s freakishly talented, and truly one of the nicest guys ever. Danny was insane in contests. You almost hoped he fell in his first pass because you knew he was going to do some crazy shit after that. Lyman has ridden with me a lot. And, if you don’t like watching Keith ride, then you don’t like wakeboarding. For years, regardless of what tour standings said, if someone asked me who the best rider in the world was, I would say Keith. No one could really compare. Murray always, then and now. Honestly I love anyone who is having fun on the water, and he is constantly having fun. In that same genre would be Daniel Watkins and Josh Sanders. They never rode without a smile on their face, good or bad. There used to be a way different feel to the tour. I definitely miss those days a bit. The level of riding has obviously advanced, you can’t knock what Harley, Dowdy, and Cory are doing; just nowhere near the same level of camaraderie. I think it has something to do with all of them being 12 and taking selfies.
On the wakeskate side, I always love Aaron Reed. I remember the Nationals one year, he did a heel 3 so big it blew my mind. It really opened my eyes to wakeskating. BT for his soul carves when the boat turns around, Grubby solely for the way it looks, Danny’s rawness, and Reed’s consistency is incredible. I’ll be honest, there are few things I like to do less that pull amateur wakeskating, but I’ll sit in the boat for those boys any day.
I know I’ll get chastised here if I don’t mention a few women. I can be pretty vocal about women’s riding, a lot of it in good fun, but as they say, in every joke there is a little bit of truth. There have been some really dominant women over the years. Some of them fun to watch, others not as much. But, thankfully in recent years it seems like girls are focusing more on how things look, instead of just making tricks. I’m a big fan of Bec Gange right now. Meaghan is really pushing things as well. And, I’m partial because she’s my student, but Hollie Waldrop has the best backside 180 going. It seems like there are several girls really charging the cable right now. I’m hoping we get more of that on the boat.
AW: What do you think boat competitions could do to bring in more viewers/fans and make the events more dynamic?
TM: I think what we did with the MasterCraft Throwdown last year was the right direction. A lot less downtime, things happening in between riders, better announcing, music, etc. I think we’ll tweak that this year to make it even better, and elevate the riding a little more. The only downside of the head-to-head format was that if the first guy messed up at all, the second guy could cruise a bit. So, we didn’t necessarily see the best riding we could’ve.
Also, just making the riders more accessible to the fans. At the Throwdown, there was a concert after, so everyone was hanging out and having fun with the fans. I think that goes a long way. To you and I, most of the kids are just idiots that know how to ride a wakeboard, but a lot of people look up to them and want to meet them, so that access is huge!
AW: Rough estimate: how many toeside edge catches have you witnessed?
TM: Dear Lord… enough to do my own concussion movie! I see really hard falls every day. Toeside, backside, sideside, every which way. Some make you cringe, some make you laugh, some make you cringe then laugh once you know they’re not dead. It’s one of the best/worst parts of my job.
AW: What was your favorite location/venue for pro competitions that you drove?
TM: The X-Games at Marine Stadium was hard to beat. Always tons of people, pretty blue water, and when it was over I got to pretend I was fancy at some restaurant in L.A. instead of eating at a Chili’s in BFE, Kentucky. I know there is some type of system of picking where contests are, I’m just not sure what it is. I’m guessing they get some type of tax credit, or have relatives that live there, or something like that. Maybe it’s just a sick joke to see if they can get us all to show up. I see them all in a room going, “Guys, there is no way they are going to come to (insert any town a wakeboard event is in) to make $250. Is there an airport there? Yeah, an hour and a half away, and it’s 3 connections from Orlando. Hotel/food? Yep, a partially condemned Econolodge and a Hardees. Lock it in!”
AW: What change in wakeboarding has surprised you most since you became involved?
TM: If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that everyone would be riding 70’ again, I would’ve said you are insane. I get it. It’s definitely way easier to do 9’s, mobe 5’s, and doubles on a shorter rope and slower speed. I think we need a happy medium somewhere. It’s hard to make stuff in the flats look good at those shorter lengths. And, not many guys are focusing on going big anyway. But contests have encouraged that, and it’s hard for guys to break away from that if it’s not going to get them on the podium. That’s the one thing that’s great about Less Than 5. Guys are doing tricks you would never normally see them do, and they’re always more visually appealing. I think we need a format that would blend those two. The best guys are the best guys, so if you tell them what to do, they will do it. We’ve seen it time and time again with format changes over the years. No matter how you slice it the same guys will be on top. And, I don’t want to have to tell guys point blank what to do, but I feel like quite a few of them could use some direction.
AW: The Boarding School is on the grounds of what used to be The Projects and you’ve put a lot of work into it. What’s that process been like and what does the future hold?
TM: It’s been never ending, but really rewarding. I have been through a lot of phases though. At first I was really upset. Pretty much every pro wakeboarder at some time or another came out there to build and shoot, and then obviously left whatever was of no significance to them wherever it laid. I’m really OCD, so things like that don’t make sense to me. Not to mention, Pat was nice enough to let them come and shoot, and make nothing from it, and they would take advantage of him and the property like that. I just don’t get it. But, once we dug in and started doing stuff the anger slipped away, and it’s been nothing but rewarding. It’s really all been spearheaded by one guy, Chris Muerrle. He was coming out to ride with us, and asked if he could start doing stuff, and he never stopped. He has pretty much turned that place into a park. We work on it to some degree daily. Thankfully it’s almost to the point where it will be more maintenance, mowing, weedeating, etc. instead of ripping out scrub brush, tree trimming, and trash removal. Once that is all done we will just be building more hangout areas. We have a few right now, but we just want to create more vantage points to enjoy the property from. And, believe it or not, we are starting the restoration of The Projects rails on Lake 3. I don’t know if anyone wants to hit rails behind a boat anymore or not. To be honest, I don’t really care. I want to pay homage to The Projects and respect the property, and if people are into it, then that’s a bonus. We are always trying to improve things in the house as well. We really want to make it as nice as possible. Our goal is to have it feel more like a resort than a wakeboard camp. I really want there to be NO reason to ever consider going somewhere else. And, I never plan on going anywhere else. I love that property so much, and am incredibly proud of it. It’s been my lifelong dream to have my own private lakes to share with my family, friends, and students. There is not a day that it is lost on me on how lucky I am to have that opportunity… Oh, and I want to build a giant spillway, with two kickers made out of pallets and a brick wall on both sides. That way we are guaranteed at least two covers a year and 4-6 shots in the mag every single issue.
AW: What’s the breakdown of the Boarding School’s students riding boat, riding cable, and wakesurfing?
TM: We are really boat heavy. Most of our students come to learn something specific behind the boat, and are solely focused on that. We have to push people a lot of times to ride the System, but the second they do they’re in to. We have been working on putting more stuff under the 2.0, and making that hangout more fun to encourage it more. Last year we definitely had more people wanting to surf. For the first time ever, I had people come down solely to surf, not as something to do at the end of the day, or when they were tired, but just surf. And we’ve been doing our best to accommodate it. In the past I would get one or two surf boards, last year I ordered 6-8 different ones, and I’ll do more this year. Look, if you want to have fun on the water, we’re in full support of that. To me, where wakeboarding and wakesurfing is right now, is similar to waterskiing and wakeboarding was 20 years ago. There is no need to cannibalize each other. Get out on the water, have a blast, end of story.