The Reader’s Poll, an institution of Wakeboarding since 1996, has long been your way to voice which riders are your favorites. Yes, it’s a popularity contest. And yes, it’s now heavily influenced by individual riders’ social media followings (but social media is a popularity measuring tool of its own). Most importantly, none of those things are bad. The Reader’s Poll is a reflection of you, the fans, and without you none of the riders (or us at the mag) would be here. This year’s Reader’s Poll was one for the record books, literally. The response was by far the biggest in the history of the franchise, and the results as a whole aren’t too surprising, but there is definitely one big one for a first-timer.
MEN’S WAKEBOARDING: #1 HARLEY CLIFFORD
This just in: Harley Clifford is popular. The now three-time reigning champ (and six times in the last seven years) once again found himself atop the Reader’s Poll. To be honest, it’s easy to see why. Harley is really good at wakeboarding. Like, really, really, ridiculously good. He’s also got that sweet Aussie accent, and he’s not too hard on the eyes either … right, ladies? Over the years, as he’s racked up the trophies and accolades (and Tinder swipes), and pushed the sport further and further, he’s built the sport’s biggest fan base. And as you can see, they love him.
MEN’S WAKEBOARDING: #2 DAVID O’CAOIMH
Yep, we were surprised too. This was David’s first time on the Reader’s Poll, and he made it to No. 2, which speaks volumes for the following he has built. While the fun-loving Irishman has a mere 17,300 Instagram followers, his bread and butter has become his YouTube channel. Through his videos David has managed to not only reach, but also entertain a huge audience (read: 2 million views in two years). In turn that has helped the sport reach all sorts of people in a fun, relatable way. That’s why he landed where he did, and rightfully so.
MEN’S WAKEBOARDING: #3 SHAUN MURRAY
Shaun Murray might just be the Energizer Bunny of wakeboarding — his popularity continues to remain at the highest of levels. The legend, who just last month snagged his seventh cover of Wakeboarding, was at the top of this list four years in a row (1998 to 2001) and has been in the top five 18 of the 22 times the Reader’s Poll has been held. Simply put, Shaun Murray has been the most popular rider of the last 20 years. These days it has as much to do with his fun-filled videos he’s been making for YouTube and social media as it does his unbelievable riding. Either way, fans of yesteryear and today still can’t get enough.
01: Harley Clifford
02: David O’Caoimh
03: Shaun Murray
04: Steel Lafferty
05: Mike Dowdy
06: Parks Bonifay
07: Cory Teunissen
08: Rusty Malinoski
09: Bob Soven
10: Massi Piffaretti
WOMEN’S WAKEBOARDING: #1 AMBER WING
While an injury kept her off the water for much of 2017, it didn’t stop Amber from doing what she’s done for more than a decade: traveling to contests and demos to interact with fans and teach others about the sport. For good measure though, Amber quickly proved she’s still one to watch when she did get on the water — just before we went to press, she posted a video of her landing a toe 7. She’s still got it, and that’s why she remains a favorite.
01: Amber Wing
02: Dallas Friday
03: Meagan Ethell
04: Giorgia Gregorio
05: Alexa Score
WAKESKATING: #1 REED HANSEN
Reed Hansen isn’t just one of the best wakeskaters in the world, he’s also one of the coolest guys. Having accomplished pretty much everything in his wakeskating career, he continues to wow the industry and fans alike with his unbelievable skills while also trying new things. If you don’t follow Reed on social media, you should. Whether he’s playing catch with a football with friends while riding, snatching 5-foot gators out of his Battle Falls park, or training to be a pro wakesurfer with the help of his brother Trevor, Reed has kept everybody entertained.
01: Reed Hansen
02: Brian Grubb
03: Daniel Grant