Weight: 160 lbs
Hometown: Canyon Lake, CA
Sponsors: Hyperlite, O’Neill, O’Town Water Sports
This wondergrom has been immersed in the culture of wakeboarding since day one. Before he could even ride, Jacob Valdez was that “cute little bro” at the local contests in Southern California, cheering on his older siblings, Robbie and Eddie and eager to learn to shred himself. His time to shine arrived and immediately it was obvious this kid was something special.
Riding in the style power plant known as Canyon Lake, California, Jacob began learning moves at a brisk pace, and did so without looking mechanical or contrived but with mad grace and fluidity. The local heavies quickly took Jacob under their wing and imparted their wisdom to him through both actions and words. His progress quickened even more. Soon Jacob was entering contests. Shortly after he started winning them. At first it was the local contests. Then he won the Junior Boys division at Nationals. Then Worlds. He stepped up to the Boys division and success followed with National and World titles there as well. He proved it was no fluke. Jacob Valdez was legitimately one of the bright stars of wakeboarding’s future.
Funny enough, the guys from whom Jacob draws his inspiration were not the high-end competition riders but the leaders of the freeride movement, guys who ride at a faster boat speed and longer line.
“My riding is inspired by Randall Harris and Ben Greenwood just because their style is so much different that the status quo,” Valdez says. “There is always some steeze in every trick they throw, from the simple to the technical. That’s how I want to ride.”
Jacob has become an anomaly, having a wealth of success in contests yet being one of the most stylish freeriders you’ll find. This combination makes him one of the most dynamic double threats set to devastate wakeboarding well into the future.
Words: Jeff Barton Photos: Rodrigo Donoso