On Tour With Nic Rapa

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Nic Rapa – Raising the BarRodrigo Donoso

Nic Rapa’s name might not be one you recognize as quickly as some of the other top pros in wakeboarding, but the young Australian is working hard to change that. By claiming fourth overall in the 2016 Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour and ­earning Rookie of the Year honors, it’s safe to say he’s well on his way. What makes Nic’s achievements, along with his lofty goals, so remarkable is the fact that he’s been riding a wakeboard for only six years. Needless to say, heading into the 2017 season, every pro is on alert, and you should be too.

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Nic Rapa at the Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard TourRodrigo Donoso

You had a lot of success as a junior rider, but 2016 was your rookie year on the Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour. What was your mindset going into it? Did you have any particular goals, or did you just want to go out and give it your best?

My summer season in Australia last year, I was super focused: in the gym twice a day and riding two or three times a day. I knew I was one of the better junior men’s riders, but I also knew that in order to compete on the next level, I’d really have to step up big time. I was more nervous than anything — seeing my name with guys like Harley, Cory, Dowdy and others on the start sheet was intimidating. It was only a few years ago I was living with Harley, wondering if I’d ever be half as good as he was. So, I just wanted to work harder than I thought anybody else was working so I’d at least not make a fool of myself.

You turned a lot of heads over the season and ended up fourth overall, which won you the Rookie of the Year award. Did you think you could do that well?

Going into it, I knew Rookie of the Year was possible because there were only three of us (rookies). Fourth overall I don’t think anybody expected, but some of that might have been because of Harley’s injury. You can’t ever predict when an injury will happen though. I think deep down, I felt like I could get up there. My dad has always been a big supporter and always made me feel like I can do more than I can. He always tells me I can do something. It was all possible, I just had to make it happen.

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Nic Rapa at the Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard TourRodrigo Donoso

What was the most challenging part of the 2016 PWT for you? Was it the overall level of competition, one specific event, or one trick or pass/line you couldn’t quite nail?

The hardest part for me is ­taking your tricks from home and seeing them on paper, and then taking them to a contest. You put a crowd in the mix, you put the best riders in the world in the mix, and you put your mind in the mix, and it gets difficult. JD Webb really helped me piece together some solid passes, and once I got over some of the intimidation and nerves, it really clicked. The overall level of riding is insane though; that’s the hardest to compete with. Any one of those guys could take a win at any stop.

The 2016 year was big, but your name is still relatively unknown. What do you think you can do to continue growing in the sport?

I’ve been really focused on making a name for myself and doing well in the contest side the last couple years, and I’m still going to do that for 2017, but I’m also going to make a conscious effort to do more photo and video shoots. I haven’t had a ton of photos published in the mags (in the U.S.), and I’d really like to change that.

What are your goals now heading into your second year of the PWT? What happens if you don’t finish higher than fourth overall?

I think the only thing stopping me from finishing fourth or better is myself. Like I said, any one of the guys out there can win a stop at any given moment, and if I’m one of them, then I’m the only one stopping myself. I’m really focused and driven. It’s ­really hard to say “I’m going to be first on tour this year” though. I don’t think anyone can say that. Everybody is too close with their tricks and passes; it’s really anyone’s game out there. My goal is to just come back better than I was and give it everything. I don’t want to be the rookie fluke who can’t follow it up.

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Nic Rapa on podium at the Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard TourRodrigo Donoso

What was your favorite moment during the 2016 PWT?

July 24 was a big one for me. It was my birthday, I turned 19, and was at the Edmonton stop. The competition was really tight throughout the day, but I managed to get third, and that was my first-ever pro podium. That was really special for me. I’d put in a lot of work all year leading up to it and had a couple fourth-place finishes, so to make the podium felt really, really good.

What are you most excited about for the 2017 PWT?

I’m stoked to go to some new stops and meet new people. I think the PWT is a really fun environment to be in for riders and fans, and there’s no better way to see some of the best riding in the world.