Park rat, skinny-stance-dancer, mustache-wearer, bangs-rocker, board-graphics-designer, style master, video creator, part time rapper, full time entertainer (if you’ve been to the last two Wake Awards then you know)… when it comes down to labeling the wakeboarder known most commonly as Wes Jacobsen, there really isn’t a label that works. That’s why he’s the Most Interesting Man in Wakeboarding. For the past few years as a co-leader of the Space Mob crew and the heavy-lifter of The Coalition videos, Wes has arguably had a larger impact on the world of park riding than any other wakeboarder in the game. His unique approach to his own riding – and how he displays riding in his videos – has helped usher in a new style of park riding. Just check out clips from parks around the globe for evidence – you’ll see kids buttering, snake-biting, hand-dragging, and jibbing like never before. After spending the last few years based out of the infamous Valdosta Wake Compound, Wes is going more global this year, having already completed a trip to Asia and with a three-month stint in Europe coming this summer. So look out, world, The Most Interesting Man in Wakeboarding is coming for you.
You started out as a park-rat kid at Trophy Lakes. How did you originally get into wakeboarding and how did you end up at Valdosta?
I started snowboarding when I was about 13 years old, but it was hard to get to the mountains enough to progress since I lived in Spartanburg, SC. Also, my family wasn’t loaded so we couldn’t afford many trips to the mountain each year. I always knew about wakeboarding and thought it was dope, but I never had the means to do it. In high school though, my family was able to get a Sea Ray that we slapped a tower on. This was my first introduction to wakeboarding. I rode behind that boat for a few years, but never really progressed that much and was kinda bored of just going back and forth across the wake trying to learn different aerials like the cool kids. After high school I chose to go to the College of Charleston where I heard they had a wakeboarding club. A couple years into it, my buddy and I began running the club, building new rails that we hit behind the ski boat, and gaining a lot of new members. In my final year of college, Trophy Lakes bought three straight line cables which really changed my perspective on wakeboarding. Through the club we hosted fundraisers to build features for the cables, a handful of which are still being shredded at Trophy Lakes today. During those years I became viciously addicted to rail riding. After managing Trophy Lakes Cable Park for a few years after college I moved to Jibtopia in Semora, NC. I lived there for one incredible season before I planned my first trip outside the country to CWC in the Philippines. That’s where I met Quinn Silvernale and Oli Breumlund. During that trip Quinn told me about his plans to build VWC and he said that I was welcome to come live and work at the new park. He assured me that it would be the best park in the world one day, and he was right. After CWC I moved to VWC and the rest in history!
In a sentence or two, describe the Valdosta vibe and what makes the place so unique.
Valdosta is so unique because it is truly built by riders for riders. Once you visit Valdosta you immediately feel like a part of their family.
When’s the last time you rode a wakeboard behind the boat?
I rode behind my parents’ Sea Ray two years ago and it was terrible. I really just don’t get it. I just want to hit rails, forever.
From your experience, what’s the biggest misconception about park riding these days?
I think that people still associate park riding with traditional wakeboarding, when in my mind it is almost an entirely different sport. I see park riding as a big part of the future of the sport. You can have fun doing both, and fun is what it’s all about, but cable parks aren’t a bastard stepchild. Not only are they a totally different way to ride and have fun on your board, but it’s a whole different experience in terms of the social aspect, riding with your friends, and progressing.
What’s your advice to riders who haven’t tried out a wake park yet?
Just get out there and do it! You won’t be disappointed! Most people that talk to me about wakeboarding describe them riding behind a buddy’s boat on a lake and having a terrible time struggling to get out of the water. My response is always, “You have to try a cable park, it’s completely different than boat riding and it’s so much fun! You can actually ride WITH your friends!”
A lot of your riding is really unique and technical, but also really approachable for the average Joe because it’s not double flips and 1080’s. What influences your riding? And how do you think of some of the lines you come up with?
Snowboarding and skateboarding definitely influence my riding, but just riding my wakeboard influences me the most. Just trying things that feel good and that are fun to do on the water is most important to me. I think a lot of people get too caught up in doing “hard tricks” and forget that we are shredding on top of water, which I think is the coolest part about our sport. I love trying to incorporate tricks that are more involved with the water than the actual rail, like snakebites, butters, shovels, reverts… Luckily, they seem to be catching on.
Progression in park riding doesn’t always mean going bigger or doing more spins. Like style, progression can be totally subjective. Wes’ unique riding requires a precision and a flow that can only come with two things: time on the water and creativity.
The Coalition videos have helped bring back a pretty epic, raw, backyard-style of video. What’s been your goal with those? And what’s next?
Well, next we are working on our third movie “The Coalition – The Trilogy,” which will be ALL winching and hopefully releasing sometime in 2020! I also plan to bring back the Coalition video series starting right where we left off with Vol. 7. My goal with all of my content is to get people stoked on the new school of wakeboarding and trying to make it look like skateboarding and snowboarding video parts.
Who’s your favorite rider to watch right now?
Crosse Bearden is the future, past, and present of wakeboarding. If he’s not up next, I quit. JK, but fo real…
You’ve been putting up some $pace Jacob$en songs on Spotify. How’d you get into making your own beats and raps? When’s the EP drop? And will you be the next rider to rap to your own riding section?
I’ve always been a music head and wanted to make music, but had no idea where to start. Since I’m not that musically inclined, I thought rapping would be my only chance at making music. I finally decided to give it a go, linked up with a producer in Spartanburg, SC, and during the few winter months off before going to Thailand I recorded my first five songs – some of which are now doing pretty well on Spotify. I do plan on making an album in 2019, but we’ll see how it goes since I’ll be very busy with wakeboarding. I don’t plan on using my own music for my section, but I do want to make music videos for some of my songs and I would like to incorporate some wakeboarding in those. However, I would like to encourage other people to use my songs in their edits if they feel so inclined to do so! It might be a good way to get a Space Mob repost!
You’ve done the art for the Coalition board (and others), you’ve got music on Spotify, you’re making award-winning wake videos, and you’ve been running around the planet shredding some international parks… what’s next for the most interesting man in wake?
I want to keep traveling, keep pushing my own riding, keep making videos and movies, keep making music, keep making art, and see how high we can climb. I’m going to Europe for three month this summer to travel around to different parks and spread the Space Mob love!
Space Mob: The future
Bangs: My forehead
Biscuits: Where’s the butter?
Golden Bear: The Greatest
Wake Awards acceptance speeches: Drunk, fun and loud
Waffle House: Texas Bacon Chicken Melt Plate, Scattered
Fanny packs: Used to be dope, still are!
Skateboarding: Hurts, but worth it
Instagram: Has too much power
Dos Equis: Two X