So many times people have told me I should include more behind the scenes of WAKEtv, so here are some stories from my travels when shooting Issue #10.
I was on the road and I didn't even have my passport so to get into Canada, I had to have my dad fax my Birth Certificate to me out at SPF in Oklahoma to Shawn Akers' house. Unfortunately, Shawn, who is a Reef rep, recycles his used paper by turning it around and using it for fax paper so I had to get into Canada with a Birth Certificate that has four Reef chicks butts on the back of it. They questioned me quite a bit, then they laughed at me, but they let me into Canada. Cool let's go to Wakestock.
Wakestock 2000 - I flew into Toronto airport fresh from the mad partying at Southern Plains Festival in Oklahoma. I hung out with Ryan Allen, editor of SBC Skateboard Canada Magazine and who played guitar in the band Sector Seven. We drove all the way to Bala, Muskoka, two hours up into the mountains and we found paradise. For Wakestock, basically they roped off the whole little town and there were wakeboarders everywhere. Everyone was wearing boardshorts and carrying their wakeboard gear because hundreds of them were there to compete in the amateur event being held on three different courses on the lake. Imagine how it feels to be surrounded by 15,000 people who all share the addiction of wakeboarding!! Riders like Shapiro, Horrell, Chad Sharpe and Jeff Heer, no doubt walking through the crowd showed there was mad talent in this little Canadian town. They floated that monster 72' long slider from the lumber yard that was conveniently located right around the bend in the lake and the crowd loved it. I have a motto, "If it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing." Wakestock was all about that, just simply doing it HUGE. One of my favorite Canadian riders to watch was Aaron Lepin who went off for the huge crowd with double up Indy Glides way out to the flats. At night, the party featured the awesome Canadian band Sector Seven who rocked The KEE To Bala. This was the greatest wakeboard event I have ever seen and I've been to most of them. Wakestock is so awesome because it's all about the amateurs riders competing as well as seeing the pros ride. The little town of Bala will never be the same again.
Disco Bay - Mike Schwenne is a wakeboard machine. He's the guy who jumps off the railroad bridge and falls like 14' and stands it up. He rode like mad for the cameras and we got so many sick tricks on tape because he hardly ever fell. Mike just kept spinning and tweaking and inverting like a machine on this perfect Delta butter. He was at home and it showed in his riding. Many hours later, we were way off in the camera boat and the second tow boat was with us, and sure enough here comes Mike Schwenne just busting trick after trick after trick cruising right by us still riding and riding. He had been riding for hours! All I could think is that Mike isn't human, he's a machine, maybe solar powered or butter powered, because he can go all day. But Mike is the kind of rider you could watch all day. His arsenal of tricks is amazing. He's inspirational, even on his seventh set, in the dark, on the way back to the dock. WAKEtv viewers who remember a rider named Steve Shifflett from Issue #6, Mike Schwenne reminds me alot of Steve not just because of his stamina out on the water, but also because people just love to have him go ride with them and people line up to catch a glimpse of a double-up trick. Mike Schwenne is a local hero and to see him ride when he's nice and comfortable and just blowing it up on his home water was a treat.
Winter Waterland - Do you know what cold is? Janesville, Wisconsin in January is very cold. Wherever wakeboarders gather, that's where WAKEtv goes so I put on my seven layers of clothes and spent two days in the boat out on the Rock River shooting some of the craziest wakeboarding I have ever seen. In Wisconsin, especially in the area near Janesville, there are many, many show skiers, really talented people who can slalom, jump, trick, wakeboard, barefoot and just about anything else on a rope behind a boat. They explained to me that they don't draw lines and that everybody there rides however they want to. When I told them that on any Florida lake, a wakeboard boat with slalom skis strapped into the wakeboard racks would be ridiculed, they said that they didn't care, that their experience was that each discipline had it's own challenges. It's as cool to jump off the bridge into the frozen river and come up barefooting as it is to spin a toeside 540 on your wakeboard. You can respect the difficulty of a front-to-back as much as a Whirllybird. The riders in Wisconsin all showed respect to each other, probably because they were the only ones crazy enough to be out on the river that day in 1 degree weather while the rest of the population was indoors staying warm. Ryan Williams, one of the WWL founders, has a record going. He rides behind the boat at least once a month, every month, warm or cold, summer or winter, he has ridden at least once a month for over three years. In Wisconsin, the weather was the deciding factor to know how cool you are, not what board or ski you ride or even if you ride any board at all. You were cool if you were out there, wet and cold and busting your best stuff out on the icy water. Winter Waterland was all about rewriting the rules of what's cool, just check out Mike Forrest's frozen fashion air. Snow and ice and wakeboarding? Man, it doesn't matter what trick you throw, you rode that day and that's what counts. It's all cool. In this case, very, very cool!
Justin Thong - Yes that really happened. He wanted to be remembered on WAKEtv, he was wearing the g-string and he did butt-check repeatedly. There's so much more of that video we just couldn't show. It hurts just to watch it. But what came out of Justin's mouth as he was swimming back to the boat is the funniest string of expletives I have ever heard. We'll have to finally make that video called Too Hot For WAKEtv.
WAKEtv will be bringing you more from the front lines of wakeboarding, all the festivals and competitions in the 2001 season plus many more Featured Riders to inspire you to ride your best. For more information on WAKEtv check out http://www.WAKEtv.com or call 877-925-3880.