Text: Luke Woodling Photos: Cy Cyr
For the second straight year, we set up a photo studio in the WBM booth at Surf Expo and shot the latest offering of wake gear for our 2009 Board Buyers Guide, which will arrive in your mailbox early next year. Photographing nearly every new board, boot, skate and wakesurf board in less than three days isn't exactly a cakewalk, but it's worth it. We love getting to check out all new innovations and graphics at the same time. We figured you might too, so here's a look at some of the highlights from next year's gear.
Liquid Force | liquidforce.com
|Ronix | ronixwake.com
2009 highlights: One wakeboard and boot
Ronix reinvented its entire boot collection for '09, moving to a baseless design that has made every boot a third lighter and a third lower. The new shock-absorbing footbed is the only thing that now separates your feet from your board, so boot-to-board response is better than ever. Danny Harf's best-selling One wakeboard and Chad Sharpe's new Viva are just two of several new boards. Ronix also released it's second generation of super-light Dark Core boards in the shapes of Harf's, Sharpe's and Parks Bonifay's pro models (the DHV2, CSV2 and PBV2, respectively.)
|Hyperlite | hyperlite.com
2009 highlight: Roam flex board
Hyperlite evolved its line so much last season we figured they might just take '09 off. Not so. The company has issued new or redesigned product in every category. Two-time Wakeboarder of the Year Rusty Malinoski's Marek pro model wakeboard definitely leads the way, but perhaps the most interesting new item is the reinvented Roam. Wake's original flex board has shaken off its snowboard-style shape in favor off a wider and blunter profile intended to increase its speed and edge responsiveness. It also features Hyperlite's new Enduro base. Don't know about you, but we can't wait to try this one.
|CWB | ridecwb.com
2009 highlight: Onset wakeskate
We introduced the new Onset, CWB's first pro-level wakeskate, back in the July issue, but Expo was the first time we got our hands on the 100-percent finished skate. We were impressed. The rubber that sandwiches the board's top and bottom deck seems tough and resilient, and it doesn't hurt that the dude who has been riding the Onset (that'd be Stuart Shinn) won Wakeskate Move of The Year at our 2008 Wake Awards Friday night of Expo. CWB also introduced a new Transcend, Andrew Adkison's recently redesigned pro model wakeboard, and a slew of new easy-entry men's and women's Hinge Tech bindings.
|Byerly | byerlyboards.com
2009 highlight: Blend wakeskate
After a lengthy interview with Byerly shaper Scott “Butch” Bouchard for a feature in the December issue, we could tell you a lot more about the all-new, super-strong Assault series wakeboard than we can about the new Blend. But this is Byerly, after all, so we had to show you the wakeskate. While we don't know much, we can tell you that the name is a nod to the board's one-part-wood-one-part-composite construction. In addition to the Assault and Blend, Byerly also debuted a new boot that allows you to adjust your forward lean on the fly.
|Gator Boards | gatorboards.com
2009 highlight: Doyle wakeskate
The photo that accompanied the new Doyle wakeskate in the 2009 Gator Boards brochure provided one of our best chuckles of Expo weekend. It's of the skate's namesake Ryan Doyle throwing a 3 shove with a samurai sword clutched firmly in his left-hand — an apparent nod to the board's Hero Quest-style graphics. Unadvisable on so many levels, but you have to respect the man's commitment to theme. GB also introduced a new all-wood, bi-level wakeskate called the Sylvan, four new women's wakeboards, and five new closed-toe boots.
|O'Brien | obrien.com
2009 highlights: Decade board and boot
The brand-new Decade is Daniel Watkins' third-generation pro model wakeboard and represents almost 10 years of collaborative wakeboard development. The Decade builds on the advancements made in Watkins' first two pro models, the Player and the Natural. This one features a wider profile from nose to tail, O'Brien's next-generation DETLA base, refined molded in fins, and the biggest rolled edge in the company's line. In addition to the Decade, O'Brien has a whole slate of new boots for 2009 as well as two new wakesurf boards, two new wakeskates, and a brand-new bamboo construction of their Traffic skate.
|Company | companywake.com
2009 highlight: Recruit wakeboard
Though we'd already done a couple of interviews with Justin Ste
phens about his new board brand and have been checking in on the blog at companywake.com pretty frequently, we still weren't sure what to expect from Company's debut at Expo. Well, the suspense is over, and the first offering looks great. Design is definitely one of Company's strengths, and the clean, red-and-black graphics of the Recruit are just classic. Company also introduced a second shape called the Severance, which features the same flex-style construction as the Recruit. We didn't get a chance to check out Company's new boots, but you'll be the first to know when we do.
|JStar | jstarwake.com
2009 highlight: Lidberg wakeboard
Once tough to find in the States, JStar is set to have a much larger presence in the U.S. in 2009. Team rider Ike Eisenhauer flew over from Australia for Expo and took out some time to walk us through the new line. Almost everything was new or redesigned for JStar's stateside push, including pro model boards and boots from Eisenhauer, Keith Lidberg, Jeff Weatherall and Jack Blodgett.
|Slingshot | slingshotwake.com
2009 highlight: D3 boot
Slingshot had a little Pantone problem with its Expo samples, so they didn't want us training a lens on their new gear until it was perfect. Even with the color snafu, though, Slingshot's '09 line looks dope. Take for example the dressed-up style of the new D3 boot, which is the third generation of Slingshot's original Driver boot. This taller, stiffer boot features the company's new Speed Pull lacing system and Firm Flex tongue, and it allows you to change your duck on the fly.
|Integrity | integrity-wake.com
2009 highlight: Glow-in-the-dark skate
This limited-edition skate — Integrity is making only 50 and each will be hand numbered and signed — was one of the most unique things we saw Expo weekend. With all the fluorescent lighting bearing down on us from the ceiling of the Orange Country Convention Center, we never actually got to see this bad boy glow. Oddly enough, the glowing wasn't even the skate's coolest feature. That'd go to the clear Durasurf bottom, which proudly displayed the company's Centra-Fuse bamboo core, which is also available in the company's new Nick Taylor and Ryan Lemons pro models. Another interesting development: The guys behind Integrity told us about plans to bring back the Mutiny brand. They already have a high-end wakeboard in the works. More info on that when we get it.