Thanks to COVID-19′s far-reaching effects around the world, the 2020 season of the Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour was unlike any other, by a long shot. While the cancellation of live, in-person events was a bummer for athletes and fans alike, it opened the doors to an entirely new way to conduct PWT contests: virtually. For the first three stops of the season, the top riders were required to film their own six-trick lines (no falls allowed, and no editing/cutting). These runs were posted for both fans and official PWT judges to score. It allowed fans both an up-close look at some of the most progressive riding in the sport, as well as the opportunity to have a say in determining the winner. The results were positive, despite the extreme changes. Kudos to Supra for coming up with the format and living up to the mantra of “the show must go on.”
For the fourth and final stop of the year, Supra was able to safely organize and hold a live event (albeit without any crowds/fans). This allowed the riders one chance at a traditional contest format: each competitor riding the same boat, in the same conditions, under the same pressure. Thanks to some incredible riding in the first three virtual stops, Nic Rapa, the defending 2019 PWT champ, had the overall points lead heading into Stop 4. In the end he pulled through with a victory, sealing deal and allowing him to hold onto the crown. Now that he’s back home in Australia for another endless summer, we caught up with the two-time PWT champ to get his thoughts on the unique season.
For you, what’s the biggest difference, or the hardest thing to overcome, between live, in-person events and filming for the virtual/digital events?
At a live event everyone rides the same wake same conditions and the winner is whoever is the best on the day. Digital events are a whole different animal. Any rider can be anywhere, riding any wake, and there are so many variables! It made it very interesting!
What was it like trying to come up with runs for the virtual stops of the PWT this year?
It’s definitely tough. I knew what I wanted to do each time, but dealing with Florida weather and the variables it got a little trying at times!
Which stop took you the longest to put a full line together?
Stop 3. I was out in the boat filming my run until 20 minutes before it was due for submission! That was crazy.
The progression throughout the season, especially between you and Cory constantly adding tricks, was crazy. Do you think we would have seen that if the season had been all standard, live events?
I think every year the tricks are getting crazier and more advanced regardless of the format. Obviously, with the video-based format, we were allowed as many attempts as we needed to get our lines done, so this allowed for some really cool parts. We definitely stayed busy and got it done!
Was it hard transitioning back to in-person style event for the 4th stop?
For me, no, it felt great. I had had other events throughout the year that kept the normal contest feel there for me, it was just a matter of staying focused and landing what I knew I needed to.
Does winning the overall title this year mean anything different to you because it was such a different type of year?
It feels great. With the digital events being tough and different I’m pumped to overcome that – and it’s even better to go back-to-back with the overall PWT title last year.
Since it started in 1992, the only male riders to repeat as overall champs on the PWT are Darin Shapiro, Parks Bonifay, Phil Soven and Harley Clifford. What’s it mean to you to be amongst names like that?
Wow. Reading that gives me chills. That’s epic! It gives me a sense of belonging and like I got introduced to wakeboarding for a reason. I’m very humbled, for sure.
What are your plans for the winter back home in Australia?
Well it’s summer here, so I’m enjoying more warm weather, haha! I have been catching up with friends, family and having fun back on my board. Life’s good!
What can fans look forward to from you in 2021?
I’m always working on becoming the best version of me, both on and off the water! I’m stoked to keep progressing and pushing the limits. We’ll see if we can go for the three-peat!
Watch Nic’s 2020 PWT runs here: