Now familiar to us all, the West Side riders (WSR) have established a legendary style that has helped wakeboarding to be appreciated and recognized as one of the elite board sports today. Troubled by lake regulations, patrollers, conservationists, skiers, fishermen and even threats of ballast limitations, this group still manages to use this southern California lake as the site to demonstrate their already acquired board skills behind a boat.
A structure of such riders has assembled at Canyon Lake, California and lead amusing lifestyles, gripping tightly to their foundations existing in surf, skate and snow. Ricky Gonzales, Randy Harris, Cheryl Newton, the Marquardt clan and wakeboard photographer Kelly Kingman frequent these waters and are accompanied by a cast of characters who all support one another and share similar interests, resulting in a collection of fascinating athletes.
Meet Ryan Augustine — 19-year-old Canyon Lake local who loves to surf, skate and ride snow. His favorite wakeboard moves include a Pete Rose, slim chance and corkscrew 5. When asked if he would ever move or relocate, Augie replied, “Yeah, I was thinking of moving two streets over to Big Range Drive in Canyon Lake; is there anywhere else?”
WBM On-Line: What’s going on out on Canyon Lake these days?
Augie: “Lately there hasn’t been much else than sick riding, coming from the pros and the up-and-comers. At the local contests there isn’t anyone who can’t bust at least one invert, in any class, beginner through open divisions.”
WBM On-Line: Give us a sense of what it’s like to be a part of it.
Augie: “On a nice, hot day in Canyon when it would be optimal for riding, we get on the lake and wait. That’s a big part of life if you ride in Canyon. We have to wait for the skiers to finish their six passes before we can skeedaddle on down to the wakeboard section. Then if there’s more than one boat back there we have to wait our turn to bust big. Now on a day when there are between seven and 12 boats out you’ll be waiting about two hours in order to get a ride. But once the wait is over, let me tell you, the riding is sensational.”
WBM On-Line: What are the other board scenes like in Canyon?
Augie: “You get a hefty fine for skating anywhere, and there’s a lack of very good skate conditions. But there is a large motocross turnout in the area. Big namers like Brian Deegan and formerly Jeremy McGrath roost near our waters. But they’re all into dirt and fire, where I’m into water. Snowboarding is also a popular pastime for this area. We’ll pack up at 8 in the morning and head up to Snow Summit and go huge all day long and then head home for a good night’s rest and a wakeboard set the next morning.”
Ryan’s favorite riders to watch are Randy Harris, Ricky Gonzales, Matt Staker and Chase Heavener, and if you get a chance to see him ride, you’ll see such influences. You also notice his knack for riding a wakeboard with a high level of talent matched by a deep respect for other riders and board sports in general. “I have the most respect for skate boarders because they got big cajones, they go big, technical, and get hurt on the hard surfaces. A close second is surfing because it’s on the water and you just can’t go out and be immediately good at surfing. You have to know the water and have very good balance. Also the technicality of it is almost reaching the point of skating. (I guess Christian Fletcher is pulling McTwists on a surfboard!) Also, those big wave nut bars are crazy too.”
WBM On-Line: Where is wakeboarding headed in your mind?
Augie: “I see wakeboarding progressing to bigger wakes, more moves and sliders. It’ll just get better from here.”