If you spend time with professional wakeboarders, you may know that the amount of free time they have on their hands is disproportionately high in comparison to the average person. You may also notice that riders are more competitive with each other than most people. This combination leads to hobbies spreading throughout the industry like wildfire and each rider trying to be the best. Riders will go hard into the hobby until everyone is burnt out on it and something new sparks their interest. Some honorable mentions before we get to the main list include: ping pong, YouTube channels, RC helicopters, golf, and paintball.
Right around 2006 – 2008 bowling was the thing for riders to do each night after spending a day on the lake. Wakeboarding Magazine’s own Ben Greenwood claims responsibility for starting this trend out in Clermont. Before long, there were several bowling leagues around Orlando with a variety of riders joining them and even a few who got season passes at different allies. Eventually, there were even gear guide issues shot at the bowling alley, and Bryan Soderlind held a legendary 60s/70s themed lifestyle bowling shoot. One year at the World Championships the after party was held at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, where some of the final scenes of the movie Kingpin were shot.
If you watch any wakeboard video put out by the Pointless crew back in the day, you will notice how much of the B-roll involves them riding pocket bikes. These little 50 cc pit bikes were not just exclusive to the Pointless crew though. It seems like almost every rider had one of their own. Riders would bring them to contests to get from point A to point B and eventually riders got into racing each other. They got so popular for awhile that some of the guys built their own mini tracks at their homes, and even OWC had their own mini track for a few years.
It all starts innocently enough – a simple bet between friends on a game or poker with the guys. This can quickly grow and grow. For a while there were monthly or weekly poker nights at riders houses, some guys would go out on gambling cruises on a semi regular basis, and for a while there was always a contest in Reno, Nevada. This annual competition would usually lead to nights in the casino. Once again, the competitive nature of athletes would escalate things. If one person was up, then everyone else would place higher bets to try to catch up. This went as far as one athlete, who will remain anonymous, spreading a rumor that he was up over $7,000. From there he watched the madness of every other rider trying to catch up with him. Needless to say, the house always wins.
Call of Duty
After a long day at work – or in this case, a long day on the water – it’s not uncommon to kick back and play some video games. Things changed for gaming though when video games went online and you could play with friends from around the world. This hit the wakeboarding community hard. Riders gravitated to Call of Duty most of all. Over one off season, where time on the water is at a minimum, it looked like just about everyone was hooked on it and were all shooting each other online. Some guys are still pretty involved, but ever since it was brought into the X-games – over wakeboarding – it seems like most guys have put down the controllers.
Not all fads are bad, and this one seems more like a trend that is here to stay. Recently riders have been focused on their health more than ever before. We are seeing athletes who are training in the gym just as much, if not more, as they are on the water. Several riders have gone as far as opening their own gyms. Riders have also become more conscience of what they eat and are sticking to strict diets to increase their performance on the water. The level of competition has become so high in our sport that everyone is looking for anything that can give them that extra edge, as well as keep them healthy enough to stay on the water.