Continuing on with our countdown of the Top 20 most influential wakesters of all time, we give you numbers 15 through 11. Why only 5 at a time, you ask? We wanted it that way, that’s why. Plus the Top 5 will be be in print in the Fall issue. Excited? We are. Again, we are defining influential riders as those who had an impact on the WAY that others rode a board and approached the sport. Read through and see what you think. If you missed numbers 20 through 16, we aren’t mad, just a little disappointed. That feels worse than us being mad, doesn’t it?
You can’t be the first World Champion in wakeboarding and NOT be on the list of the most influential. Aside from his back-to-back titles “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” was the first face of compression molded wakeboards, which is kind of a big deal if you think about it. It is like being the first world champion on a twin-tip board and becoming the face of modern day wakeboarding. The late 80′s and early 90′s were all Perez, until he ran into the buzzsaw that was Darin Shapiro.
In the mid-2000′s there was a definite aura of “The Rusty Effect”. Pro riders were starting to feel like sitting around and playing video games all day might not be enough to keep up with this dude that was riding 4 and 5 times a day, everyday. Guys started to hit the gym, take it more seriously, and treat pro riding like a job rather than a free pass. Well, at least they tried. Rusty has been the best example of working hard to get to the top and set the bar for what it takes to be a professional. The double-up smashing can only be compared to a young Parks Bonifay where it didn’t matter what was going on, they just wanted to hit them.
Known as the rider that had more spin variations than anyone, Collin was one of the first proponents of proper grabs and legit tricks. He was vocal about the gymnastic state of the sport of wakeboarding around the turn of the millenium and backed up his opinion with non-inverted riding that was blowing minds. Collin was snapping out grabs halfway through a switch heelside 540, then linking it to a perfect wake-to-wake melon backside 540, followed up by back to back toeside backside 360′s with perfect grabs. He stood out like sore thumb in the time when S-Bends and ungrabbed back mobes were king, but it was a refreshing, visionary sore thumb. Collin’s riding impacts even riders today who may not have even heard of him, but the first guy linking back to back switch and regular tech spins can see his influence felt in kids chasing back to back toeside 900′s.
Has there ever been a rider like Keith Lyman? Will there ever be again? Hard to say. If you can move through the air like a steezy Shawn Watson, but can charge as hard and go as big as Randall Harris and Dean Smith, you might be the next Keith Lyman. Odds are, you can’t. Don’t be upset about that, riders have tried for years to look as good and go as big as Keith, but never seem to get close. Go big? Sure. Look stylish? Ok. But to do both all while dropping video parts like Keith’s in Push Process with the revolutionary wake-to-rail stunt, you would see their name up on this list too.
Shane has been great at all aspects of wakeboarding tracing back to the PT Cruiser days, but his impact is felt the heaviest in the rail game. Being that we are measuring the influence that each of these riders has had on others, Shane was an easy choice in that nearly any rider that has approached a rail in the last 10 years would say that they wanted their hit to look like Shane Bonifay’s at one point or another. Having the best nosepress is the rail riding world’s equivalent to having the best method. Shane has laid the groundwork to make a case for both of those titles.