You may know Josh Palma as the winner of the Global Rider Search contest a few years back or you might have seen him on the big screen stunt doubling in Shark Night 3D or you might just know him as “that ripper with the dreads!” Either way, the man shreds on a wakeboard. Josh is one of the nicest and most laid back guys in the business and his lifestyle really shows on the water with his effortless style that everyone loves to watch. So sit back and enjoy a good read from the man known as Josh Palma.
WW: Josh, can you give us a little background check to kick things off?
JP: I'm a Florida native and started wakeboarding seriously about seven years ago. I grew up on the water, but was always really busy playing conventional sports. I'd say I got hooked when I was about 16. At that time, however, I had no idea that my greatest passion would one day be my occupation.
WW: How old were you the first time you rode a wakeboard?
JP: The first time I rode was with Joel Cahill on Spring Lake (ironically, the lake where Gator and Byerly used to ride). I was 13 and was rocking a Perez Hyperlite skurfer with neon green bungies. My setup was fresh.
WW: Did you ever get the chance to ride with those guys on your lake?
JP: Not really. I was just getting into the sport when I saw that crew out on Spring Lake. It was really inspirational and motivating to watch Gator and Byerly ride during that time. I remember that they were always trying tricks I had never seen and could hardly understand. True pioneers of our sport…legends.
WW: Did you start off with any other board sports or team sports first?
JP: I grew up playing baseball and basketball and actually played baseball for a bit in college. Wakeboarding was my first boardsport. Actually, I guess it would have been kneeboarding.
WW: What was wakeboarding like in the beginning for you?
JP: Wakeboarding was an opportunity to be free, clear my head, express myself and hang out with old friends and make new ones. Also, it was completely unstructured and encouraged creativity and originality. All the other sports I played didn't provide that type of freedom.
WW: Has wakeboarding changed at all for you now or do you still feel the same spiritual connection?
JP: I definitely still feel the same spiritual connection to my riding. I really don't feel that's something I'll ever lose. It's that innate love for riding that motivates me to reach my full potential as an athlete and to contribute all that I can to a sport that is still in its early stages.
WW: Any riders back then have any influence to you and your riding?
JP: For sure! I was a huge fan of the sport before I participated in it much. My biggest influences came from a few videos I had growing up (Mayday, High Wake Drifters and Switch). Murray, Byerly, Randall, Gator and Parks were definitely my favorites from that era.
WW: Do you have any favorites now in this era?
JP: My favorites in the current era are Danny, Parks, Murray and Randall. Really respect how those guys have remained relevant for so long and still continue to have a huge impact on the sport. In terms of the younger generation, I really enjoy watching Shota, Bob, Harley and Raph.
WW: A few years back you won an industry contest called, Global Rider Search. Has winning that helped you further your career in wakeboarding?
JP: Winning the Global Rider Search in 2004 was instrumental to my wakeboarding career. It paved the way for numerous opportunities and connected me with some of the sharpest and most influential people in the industry. Essentially, that contest put me on the map because I was completely unknown until that point. Chuck, Derek and the crew at Buywake.com have had my back since day one and I deeply appreciate all they have done to help me.
WW: You also made a switch over to CWB Board Co. a couple years ago. How has that been going so far? Do you have a favorite set up from their line yet?
JP: I've really enjoyed becoming a part of the CWB team the last two years. It has also been really fun to work on the development of new product with the crew at the factory. I've been rocking the new 2013 Faction boots and a 42 Transcend.
WW: What is your connection with The Boarding School in Orlando?
JP: I've been linked in with Murray and Travis since I started riding competitively in 2006. They have been incredible mentors to me and are now two of my closest friends. Travis is from south Georgia and is fairly racist, so that puts a strain on our relationship at times (laughs). They brought me on staff at The Boarding School in 2008 and I've been working at the best wake school in the world ever since. Come hang with us!!
WW: What was it like working on the movie Shark Night 3D as the man doing all the real action on wakeboard?
JP: It was an incredible experience that has opened a lot of doors for me. I had very little experience doing stunt work prior to the film, so I really just tried to soak it all up while on set. It was really cool to help get our sport on that type of stage too. Wakeboarding has done so much for me, so it was fulfilling to give back to the sport in that way. I'm looking forward to doing some more stunt work in the future.
WW: Do you have any more stunt work in progress right now that you can leak out?
JP: Nothing solid right now in terms of motion pictures. I'm going to do some stunt work for commercials this next year. It will get me some more experience and provide me with the flexibility I need for riding. Heading to L.A. sometime in the next few months to do some stunt training. Pumped for that!!
WW: Has the movie brought any new ladies into your life?
JP: Did you see me fight the hammerhead? Enough said.
WW: As the season winds down into fall, is there anywhere you like to go to ride or is Orlando just the spot to be?
JP: Orlando is definitely the place to be this time of year. Glass calm, big wakes and the water is still really warm. I'm working on a project with MasterCraft in Austin, Texas this week. Really looking forward to riding out there.
WW: MasterCraft has been in the watersports industry since the beginning. What's it like being a part of such a historical team?
JP: It's a privilege to be part of the MasterCraft family. Every time we have a team signing, I take a moment to look down the table of riders. From riding style to personality, it's the most diverse wake team in the game. As I noted when I started answering this question, MasterCraft is a family. To be welcomed into that family has been an honor and it has provided me with a handful of life-long friendships. Furthermore, having an XStar the past few years has been a huge contributor to the progression of my riding. The consistency and precision of the XStar helps eliminate unwanted variables and therefore accelerates progression. I can't wait for my 2013 Alpinestars edition XStar to be done!!
WW: Have you been shredding any wake parks lately or do you just feel that the boat is where it's at?
JP: I've really enjoyed riding cable this past year. I mainly ride OWC and I'm excited about all the new obstacles out there. I love riding boat but I enjoy mixing it up and keeping my riding diverse. There's so much crossover between boat and cable too...feel that doing both just makes me that much more comfortable on my board. I'll definitely be up at the cable a bunch this off-season!!
WW: Do you have a regular crew of riders that you tend to ride with the most?
JP: Not at all. I find it really beneficial to mix up my riding crew as much as possible. Everyone has different strengths/styles so riding with various people inevitably helps push and diversify your riding. When I'm in town, though, I usually ride with some combination of the following: Murray, Travis, Rattray, Langley, McKee, Steel, Daniel Powers, Jamie Hamrick, Dowdy or Scott Stewart.
WW: Is there anyone in particular that you ride with that you feel has a major impact on your riding today?
JP: Everyone that I listed in the question above has a continual impact/influence on my riding and progression. I can think of specific tricks that every single rider in the previous question has helped me develop. In a more general sense, Murray, Travis and Jamie play a big role in encouraging me to push myself and to think outside the box with my riding.
WW: So what's next for Josh Palma?
JP: I'll be competing in the King of Wake events this next year, but I will also be involved in several video projects with Alpinestars and MasterCraft. I'm excited to reach what I feel is my full potential in the contest scene, but I also want to work on some innovative tricks and to maintain my freeride approach. Really looking forward to getting more involved with stunt-work this next year as well.
WW: Any shout-outs?
JP: God, my family for their continual love and support, MasterCraft, Alpinestars, CWB Board Co., Buywake.com, Electric Visual and The Boarding School. Special thanks to Travis, Murray, Chuck, Shave and Aarne. Thanks to WakeWorld for the interview!