Although September is usually the busiest month of the year around the WakeWorld offices, it's also one of the most exciting. Most of that excitement is derived from the annual wakeboarding trade show, Surf Expo. The show also includes surf, skate, kite, clothing and a whole bunch of other stuff, so that's why it isn't called Wake Expo...maybe someday.
The WakeWorld crew usually makes a week of it combining Expo with photo shoots, flesh pressing, parties, premieres, awards shows and generally getting an opportunity to talk to just about everyone in the industry on a face-to-face basis. And if we get all our "work" done, we might even sneak in a run at OWC to satisfy our west coast cable/obstacle-deprived riding appetites.
This year started off with Randy Murray (our photographer) and I making an early morning visit to Harley Clifford's house for a photo shoot with Harley, Sean O'Brien and Shota Tezuka. We had to wait out some early morning wind, but it turned out to be a great morning of riding with some fun guys. Harley's X-Star provided a mackin' wake and Sean's new Axis followed behind to get some great shots. It was my first time meeting Shota and the guy is definitely a personality with a laid back have fun attitude that will take him far in the business. I don't need to tell you how well he rides. We finished the shoot off by capturing Sean's wake-to-wake osmosis 7 on video. It was a great start to the trip.
The next photo shoot was that evening with Shaun Murray, Kaesen Suyderhoud and Freddie Wayne out at The Boarding School, but we had some time to kill while the sun was high. We decided to hit OWC since most of the board companies were allowing demos of their boards for free and we were jonesing for some water time. Kaesen put on the hard sell and set up his pro model board, the CWB Saber, for me to try out. Randy and I got our fresh gear out on the water and had begun the process of shaking a lot of rust off since neither of us had been to a cable park in a while.
I had just been victimized by the flat rail (yes, the easiest hit out there) for the second time and had begun my walk of shame back to the starting dock when I saw Randy attempting the same rail. His fall looked pretty strange as he came down on the rail pretty hard leading with his shoulder. I yelled to see if he was ok, but then decided he was fine when I saw him taking his board off. I headed back to the dock and got back in line again and before long Randy came into view holding his arm with someone else carrying his board. I guess he wasn't ok and I felt like crap for leaving him out there like that.
As Randy approached I could see a bone attempting to make its way out of his skin at the top of his shoulder. Yuck! Since Randy had previously broken his leg behind my boat, I knew the routine. It was time to chauffer him to the hospital. There was plenty of help from OWC staff and several of the pro riders (Although I'm not sure Bob Soven's failed attempt to put Randy's arm back in the socket could be considered "help," especially since it turned out that it wasn't out of the socket in the first place.) as we removed our gear and headed for the parking lot. Sean O'Brien's dad is a doctor at the local hospital, so Sean was nice enough to call ahead so that we would be taken care of when we arrived. How connected are we??
JOB (that's what the hospital staff called SOB's dad) hooked us up and diagnosed Randy with a 5th-degree separated shoulder. Randy left with a new sling, a handful of painkillers and strict instructions not to do anything until he saw his orthopedic doc to possibly get surgery. Obviously, we missed out afternoon shoot with Shaun Murray and crew, but since the trip had just started, Randy was intent on shooting Dean Smith, Amber Wing and Brenton Priestley the next morning.
It was our second time on an Axis boat in as many days as we boarded Dean Smith's vessel the next morning. Dean couldn't stop ranting about how much he likes the wake and it was obvious why. He had it loaded down so much that I could barely see him behind the rooster tail when he was directly behind the boat. Cathy Williams came out and provided a chase boat, so Randy got a smooth ride and was able to get some shots despite his bad shoulder.
In fact, Randy made it through the rest of the week snapping 99% of the photos in this article. He even survived a blow to the shoulder I gave him at the Parks Roast when I momentarily forgot about his injury (with friends like me, who needs enemies). He did two full days at Expo tracking down all your favorite pros and getting shots of them with their boards, along with lots of product shots. He even made it to the Wake Awards one night and the Parks Roast the next before returning home to shoot a wedding just hours after his plane landed back in San Diego. What a trooper! And, yes, I did make it out to OWC on my way out of town to get in a full ride. I'm proud to say that I had such a successful run that I was cut off for my first time ever!
There are over 300 photos from Surf Expo below, but to make them a little easier to view I've broken them up into categories. So if you just want to see a particular category, click the links below. If you want to see it all at once, just scroll down.