Get to know the athletes of the Pro Wakeboard Tour
June 4, 2018
Harley Clifford Nickname: The Phenom DOB: Sept. 14, 1993 Resides: Orlando, Florida Hometown: Redland Bay, Australia Stance: Regular Best PWT Finish: Overall Champ 2017, 2015, 2014
Since Clifford won the 2014 and 2015 Supra Boats PWT overall titles, everybody was looking to see if he could three-peat. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards — Clifford went down with a devastating knee injury early in the season. While nobody knew exactly how good he would be upon his return, everybody knew he'd still be a force to be reckoned with because he wasn't going to come back timidly. Simply put, Clifford pushed any doubt out the window at the very first stop as he took the top spot in epic fashion. He followed that win up with third-, second- and first-place finishes, the last of which sealed the deal for him to win his third overall PWT title.
What to Watch For: Clifford isn't just the best boat rider on the planet right now; he's among the best ever to strap into a wakeboard, so consider yourself lucky to have the chance to watch him do his thing in person. What separates him from most is his uncanny ability to put down a run in any situation and seemingly never to crack under pressure. Obviously, his bag of tricks is one of the deepest in the game — and watching him pull them out on command is akin to playing a video game. If he's really feeling the pressure, look to see if he'll bust out a nose grab crow 7 (toeside front roll with two full rotations) or the elusive 1080 spin.
Nic Rapa Nickname: Rap-O DOB: July 24, 1997 Resides: Clermont, Florida Hometown: Hawkesbury, Australia Stance: Goofy Best PWT Finish: 2nd Overall 2017
Rapa followed up his incredible 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign just as you might expect: with an even better 2017. Throughout the year he was in a constant battle for podium positioning with Harley Clifford and Mike Dowdy. When it was all said and done, Rapa finished second overall and is among the favorites at each stop of the PWT. Known for being extremely consistent and controlled, Rapa mixes some of the toughest technical tricks with a lot of amplitude, which really sets his riding apart.
What to Watch For: If Rapa makes the finals, look for his signature indy moby dick out into the flats (a back flip with a backside 360 rotation). He boosts this trick bigger than anybody else. Rapa also has several double-flip variations in his repertoire, which you're guaranteed to see in this year's final rounds (and probably semifinals).
Mike Dowdy Nickname: Dirty Mike Dowdy (DMD) DOB: Feb. 1, 1994 Resides: Orlando, Florida Hometown: Pinckney, Michigan Stance: Goofy Best PWT Finish: Overall Champ 2016
Before the 2017 season, the 2016 PWT might have been the most contested. It definitely had one of the wildest finishes. Dowdy found himself with the overall title that year, and every stop since then he's among the favorites to make the podium. Most known for pushing the double-flip aspect of wakeboarding to entirely new levels, Dowdy also has every other trick in the books in his bag, which means he's always got a shot at the W.
What to Watch For: Should Dowdy make the finals, look for his signature corked 720 that he can grab twice. If he's really pushing it, he'll take it to 900. The way he spins and passes the handle is unique — it's like a combination of an off-axis spin and an inverted back roll (mobe). Of course, Dowdy also has multiple double-flip variations on lock.
Another Aussie consistently challenging for a podium spot at every contest he enters, Teunissen has quickly risen in the ranks to become one of the best boat riders on the planet. Don't let his laid-back approach and Aussie accent fool you. He's as focused and determined as they come and has been pushing boat riding to the next level.
What to Watch For: Like most of the other top contenders, Teunissen has several double-flip variations he can use when he's in the finals. If he's really feeling like pushing the envelope, though, look for him to unload a giant backside 900 into the flats. Most riders wouldn't risk a giant backside 540, but Teunissen can up that in a big way. He also has a more consistent 1080 than any other rider.
Tezuka has made a name for himself with his big air and smooth, fluid style. Sometimes it looks like the kid has springs in his legs because of the way he can pop off the wake. That amplitude, along with his fun personality, has made Tezuka a fan favorite on the PWT for years.
What to Watch For: Tezuka has been adding double flips to his bag of tricks as well as 1080s and some other technical tricks. Look for him to mix those in, along with signature moves like a giant indy backside 180 into the flats, to separate his riding from the others.
Flegel is known around the PWT for dominating the wakesurf portion while also consistently making the finals in wakeboarding. He is the only athlete who competes in both areas, and the fact that he does so well at both is testament to him as an athlete. In wakeboarding, Flegel is known for mixing technical tricks with his own style, which has helped him over the past few years as he has risen in the ranks on the PWT.
What to Watch For: Word on the street (and his Instagram) is that Flegel's been getting more and more consistent with double flips as well as 1080s and the elusive crow mobe 720. Should Flegel make finals and look to make some noise, watch for him to pull out any of those moves and put the other competitors on notice.
At 6 feet 1 inches tall, Siegele is one of the tallest riders on the PWT. He's also one of the most textbook riders in the game — you can always count on him to put a stand-up run into the books. There must be something in the water in Australia because the country continues to churn out riders who make an impact on the PWT. While Siegele's name isn't as well known as some of his fellow countrymen, don't lose sight of him. He's always capable of knocking somebody off.
What to Watch For: Siegele has a 1080 in his bag and has been landing it much more consistently as of late. Should he need to move the needle and drop a serious hammer into his run, look for him to pull this one out. Anytime a 1080 is landed in a contest it immediately ups the ante in a big, big way.
Jake Pelot Nickname: Jake the Snake/Jake from State Farm DOB: Oct. 22, 1997 Resides: Orlando, Florida Hometown: Orlando, Florida Stance: Regular Best PWT Finish: 9th Overall 2017
As a rookie last year, Pelot defied the odds and finished ninth overall — quite the accomplishment considering the veteran talent he was up against at every stop. An Orlando native who grew up surrounded by the sport (both literally and figuratively, as his family lives down the lake from wake legend Shaun Murray), Pelot has progressed in his riding the past couple of years to become one of the most well-rounded wakeboarders in the game.
What to Watch For: Pelot's riding has taken big strides and he's put a lot of work in to make it stand out among the other pros on tour. He's become very good at rewind spins, which not many other riders on the PWT are doing. He'll approach the wake wrapped, spin a full 360, then rewind himself 180 before landing. It's very different and very cool.
Damien Adam Nickname: Vicious From Mauritius DOB: Dec. 18, 1994 Resides: Orlando, Florida Hometown: Grand-Baie, Mauritius Stance: Regular Best PWT Finish: 9th Overall 2016
The man from Mauritius, Adam is known among his fellow pros as a rider who has the potential to put down a solid run every time he touches the water. If you haven't Googled it yet, Mauritius is a small island nation off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Adam moved to Orlando to pursue a wakeboarding career, and he's made the most of it by finishing in the top 10 overall the past two years.
What to Watch For: Adam is known for a unique style and doing a lot of tricks differently than the rest of the riders on the tour. He has his own view of wakeboarding. He regularly lands tricks wrapped, grabs them differently, and throws a lot of different tricks into his passes, which really helps separate him from the competition. If needed, Adam might also pull out a switch toe 1080, which he started landing last fall.