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Who's Riding First?


Amber WingThe boat is turned off and floating in the middle of the lake, loaded and ready to pull the first wakeboarder. Who has the pleasure of riding first? Everyone is familiar with this situation. From my observation, there seems to be three scenarios.
Social riders don’t get the opportunity to ride every day or whenever they feel like it. Most of the time it’s the weekend and the boat is in the water at 6:00 AM trying to beat the other boat traffic. They have been waiting, dreaming about wakeboarding all week at work, so everyone wants to ride first. Wakeboarding Etiquette 101 suggests that the boat owner will ride first. If they are not feeling it, next in line is whoever helped hook the boat up or who contributed the most to the preparation. In a nutshell, the boat owner decides the order.
Then you have professional riders/coaches at wakeboard camps who have the opportunity to ride 24/7. This scenario is a little different and quite the opposite to the social riders. No one wants to go first and the more I think about it, I have no idea why. You would not believe the long-winded creative excuses that riders come up with. These include:

  • Ladies first
  • Shotgun LAST
  • Amber, you know I don’t ride first
  • I have to stretch. You ride first.
  • I am not a morning person (we ride at 10:00 AM)
  • I don’t ride before noon
  • I had a big night
  • Just not feeling it. I want to watch you ride so I can get motivated.
  • And my favourite from Ben Greenwood: “Oh, I am not going to ride today.” Then after everyone rides, “Oh, I changed my mind. Yeah, I will take a set.”

Amber WingI am sure there are more that I am missing, but that list covers the majority of it. The old scissors-paper-rock comes into play when all else fails. In my boat, I ride first 99% of the time as Ben Greenwood and Hayley Smith, the two people I ride with most days, do not ride first. There is no discussion. It has somehow become law. So now I have a reputation that I love to ride first.
So here comes the twist...the photo shoot. The professional riders have to wake up when it is dark, ride way earlier than they ever dream of and, yet, it is almost a fight of who goes first. This scenario comes down to a tactical approach, a battle to get the best light. For an early morning shoot, you don’t always want to ride first as you are waiting for the light to become a little more magical. As a result, the ideal riding spot would be second or third. However, for an afternoon shoot you want to ride towards the end, but not too late. Otherwise, there will be no light and not really enough time for a good set.
It's kind of funny how in your consistent crew everyone moulds into a riding spot. The riding order becomes an unspoken rule and works like clockwork. Next time you're out in the boat, I hope you are entertained while watching the shenanigans of the riding order unfold in front of your own eyes.  
Happy wakeboarding folks!


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