WW: Your name is R.J. Pabon. Is that spelled with periods after the R and J or do you do a JD Webb thing without the periods? What do the R and J stand for?
RJ: R.J. Stands for Robert Junior.
WW: What’s your wakeboarding background like?
RJ: I started wakeboarding at the age of five on a secret river in Mexico. However, when I was younger I did not really ride too much and was too timid to try any real trick. In the summer of ‘09 it really clicked in my head how much I love the sport of wakeboarding and how much I wanted to start improving. I have continued to excel ever since that point and I am not stopping anytime soon!
WW: Regular or goofy?
WW: Don’t you wakeboard for ASU? Is this your first year?
RJ: Yes, this is my first year wakeboarding for the ASU Wake Devils. It would be awesome if you can like our team page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
WW: The collegiate scene is pretty underexposed. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
RJ: The collegiate wake scene is underexposed for sure. However, each year it is slowly getting bigger and bigger.
Ahhh, there is so much to say, but I’ll try to make it short. Well, as of now there are two separate “wake leagues,” I would call them, but you can do both like the WakeDevils are doing. There is the Collegiate Wakeboard Association, which is run by Chris Walker. He has done a lot for college wakeboarding. His series championships is part of the Alt Games, which is an event that holds finals for collegiate surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc. Last year the finals were at Mission Bay in San Diego, which was an excellent venue.
There is also the Collegiate Wakeboarding Series, AKA Empire Wake, which is run by Rob Mendieta. This series is a lot of fun and growing fast. There are five stops all around the country and you can attend any of them to help your team get higher up in the rankings. The top 16 teams make nationals. This year nationals are going to be a can’t miss. They are April 18-22 in Las Vegas!
A big thanks to Chris and Rob for all they do in the sport of collegiate wakeboarding! You can like Collegiate Wakeboard Association, Collegiate Wakeboard Series and Empire Wake on Facebook and you can check out Empirewake.com for information about the stops and collegiate rankings!
WW: Do they have a collegiate ranking system? Where do you rank amongst the top collegiate riders?
RJ: Yes, Empire Wake ranks the top 20 teams and the ranking will change after every College Wake Series Stop. This is my first year ever competing so I am learning a lot from the more experienced riders, but I have definitely improved a lot since coming to ASU. I have been learning tricks pretty quick. Watch out for me on the collegiate wake scene in the next few years. I will be fighting my way up to the top!
WW: Where does ASU rank?
RJ: Well…since you mentioned it, WakeDevils are currently ranked FIRST in the nation!! We have a great group of riders that love the sport and thrive to improve their skills.
WW: Do you get to travel much as a team?
RJ: Yeah, actually this year we did Collegiate events in Washington, Chico and Tampa. Traveling to these contests was the most fun I have ever had in my life. We got to compete, meet other wakeboarders from around the nation and rage our faces off. What could be better?
WW: Where does your team usually ride?
RJ: When our team rides at school we usually ride at Lake Saguaro and Bartlett. Beautiful lakes and if you go mid-week the water is prime!
WW: What are you studying at ASU?
RJ: Business Management.
WW: Are you originally from Arizona?
RJ: No, I am from Glendora, California.
WW: Where do you ride when you’re home?
RJ: When I am home I beg my dad to take me down to our house in Mexico, to tell you the truth, because he insists on leaving the boat down there and we are not that close to any lakes or rivers. That’s why I went to Arizona, so I can ride more and excel!
WW: Do you have a regular crew of friends you ride with?
RJ: Yeah, my usual crew in AZ is Chelsea Clark, Ryan Platt, Broc Schall and Mike Montella. In Mexico it is usually Robert Pabon, Joe Pearson and Nathan Tourtellotte.
WW: Was wakeboarding your first and only sport you got into or do you have secret talent in another?
RJ: Nope. Before this year baseball was my number one sport. It is an awesome game, but there is no time to wakeboard with all the baseball practice. I realized my passion for wakeboarding is way stronger, so I switched over and haven’t looked back…crazy, huh?
WW: Which pro riders inspire you?
RJ: I would have say Phil Soven. He has added so many new moves to wakeboarding and has been shredding ever since he was a little boy. I remember seeing Wide Awake and he was like eight years old shredding better than some of the pros. He has so much talent and desire to get better its crazy!
WW: What’s a normal day in your life right now?
RJ: Wake up, go to school, try and hope I can find someone to take me wakeboarding (oh, if anyone out there wakeboards near Tempe, hit me up on the FB and let’s ride, haha), then go home, do some homework and then PARTYYYY…Hey, what can you expect. I got to ASU!
WW: Are you working on any new tricks right now?
RJ: Right now I am working on adding more style to my tricks, like finding new ways to grab my 3’s and start grabbing my 5’s. Then pretty soon I am going to start working on a toe 7. Spin it to win it!
WW: What’s your favorite trick?
RJ: Even though I love to spin, my favorite trick would have to be the front roll. I love just boosting it off the wake and not knowing where I am in the air. It’s a pretty crazy feeling.
WW: What’s the key to making a trick look good?
RJ: Pshhh, one word: STYLE. Without it you are not entertaining to watch. That’s why I am stopping to learn new variations of spins and flips for now to learning to grab the ones I have right now. Style makes your riding looks SO much better.
WW: What’s the hardest crash you have ever taken on a wakeboard?
RJ: Probably would be boosting a backside 1 and coming down nose first. It was wild. Still can’t seem to take that trick big without eating it. I will get it eventually!
WW: What’s your current board and binding set up?
RJ: I ride a lovely 2012 Watson Hybrid with extremely light 2010 Company Pro bindings. I love my setup!
WW: Do you ever ride cable?
RJ: First time riding cable was this November when we went to the Florida competition. We rode McCormick’s and OWC. It was awesome; a whole new feeling to wakeboarding. It was a lot easier than riding behind the boat also (sorry, if that offended anyone, haha).
WW: What do you college kids listen to these days? Give me the top five off of your iPod.
RJ: I don’t know about everyone else, but I love a mixture of dance music and chillin’ music.
- Avicii - Levels
- Vinylshakerz - One Night in Bangkok
- Wolf Gang - Lions in Cages
- Wiz Khalifa - No Sleep
- Deadmou5 (featuring Lissie) - The Longest Road
WW: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
RJ: To learn a 7 and a mobe. Also to help the WakeDevils get a team boat. Any boat companies want to sponsor or help out the NUMBER ONE collegiate team in the nation? Got to try!
WW: Would you like to thank anyone out there?
RJ: My dad Robert Pabon for doing everything he has for me and getting me started in wakeboarding. Joe Pearson for teaching me to do new tricks and always wanting to ride with me no matter how old he is. Nathan Tourtellotte for calling me a pussy until I tried a new trick. Ryan Platt for bringing back the WakeDevils and doing so much for our team. Chris Walker and Rob Mendieta for doing so much for the collegiate wake scene! Damien Klaas for being the first legit rider I saw shred in person and showing me how sick tricks look when you take them HUGE!! Kristian Kastari for showing me how awesome wakeboarding truly is and teaching me what style is all about! R.I.P. man, you’re the best.