Wake History According To Todd Weatherill
Nobody ever invented wakeboarding. For that matter, nobody ever invented surfing behind a boat. It just happened. Both occurred when kids got their dad's boat for the day. It didn't matter if it was a $100k wake boat or a 21' Mako...boards were grabbed and used behind boats since the late 20's. Some people in the late 30's made them out of plywood disks and flipped the board and turned backwards to the boat. Sound like wakeskating? See what I mean?
Until these sports were organized they were just random acts of "I bet I cans."
But there are many noteworthy accomplishments in wakeboarding. Early in the sport, Jimmy Redmon, Tony Finn, Tommy Phillips, Todd Weatherill, Stacey McElhinney, Howard Bass and a small handful of other riders and their parents organized the sport. Many others have the bragging rights of being first to do the following:
Jimmy Redmon made the first U.S. shaped wakeboard and named it Redline Design.
Tony Finn marketed the first U.S. wakeboard and its name was Skurfer.
The first skiboard was the Surf Ski, designed by Aussie Jeff McKee. It was released by Wellington Puritan. McKee promoted the same design in Oceana starting in '82 or '83 under the name McSki.
Eric Perez is the first World Champion.
Darin Shapiro is the first to win the U.S. Open and took home all the prize money at 90% of the early contests.
The first flip in a competition was done by Kreg Llewellyn, a trick skier.
Trick skiers and hot-doggers like Tony Klarich, Russell Gay and even Darin Shapiro pushed the sport in its early days to new levels.
Pat McElhinney was pulling huge 540's before anyone else on a wakeboard. But remember, trick skiers were doing it already years before on trick skis. However, Pat had the first pure wakeboard 540. In fact it was a wrapped switch 540.
Lance Brug was a flip innovator from Hawaii.
The first sliders were anything in the way; buoys, docks, trees, stumps and boats...yes, boats.
The first persons to hit a ramp with a wakeboard were almost all three-event (ski, trick, jump) prodigies. The only distance-jumping wakeboarders back then were Stuart Barton, Bob Welsh and Todd Weatherill. Stuart won with 70 feet...then Shapiro (trained jumper) hit a ramp and laughed past us all by almost double.
The dirtiest grabs were dirty in the beginning too (ala Smith, Nelson, Goforth, Harwood). Josh Smith is my pick for best early tweaker.
The body slide was not created by Troy Navarro or Todd Weatherill. It, again, was created by a waterskier. A lot of waterskiers did it.
The first "golden boy" of wakeboarding was Chris Coogan.
The first WWA President was Todd Weatherill.
The first bogus company in the wakeboard world was Thruster Wakeboards...cool samples, great riders, no product to sell, but a huge sponsor check that "will surely clear." I mention no names because I am a good guy.
The "Dirty Dozen," which are the first professional riders, actually had 19 original members, but were termed the "Dirty Dozen" anyway.
Jimmy Redmon designed the first double-ended board about the same time as Neptune. He also is credited with the first three-stage rocker on a wakeboard. You can see it on the early Sano Boards. Again, wakeboarders were not first. The first three-stage rocker was in surfing designs.
The first compression-molded board was made by Herb O'Brien and his crew out of Redmon, Washington.
The first slalom wakeboard champion was "Barney" Ken Bernard.
The first finless board idea was at O'Brien and it came from Todd Weatherill (tie with Redmon...ask him).
Surfing behind the boat is documented in books back into the 40's.
In the summer of 1994, the First Inland Surf Tournament (FIST) was the brainchild of Todd Weatherill and put on by sponsor "Sail and Ski" in Austin, Texas off Lake Austin. Regular surfboards were used.
The Pro Wakeboard Tour came to be through revolution and victory over the Pro Waterski Tour, which was trying to keep wakeboarding out, the sport's organizers and, ultimately, the ski tour's demise. Wakeboarding is powerful...and organic. Why? Because they said we couldn't.
Yes, Byerly is that nice...really a good guy. He is every bit of legend, myth, person and champion that he is made out to be. He is one of the fathers.
Parks Bonifay's (also a three-event skier) first championship was in the Jr. Men division at the Worlds in Isla Morada Keys in 199...dang, I am old...can't remember the year. It is the same year Byerly won the Worlds I believe. The photo attached has him and second place Randall "Vandall" Harris.
The first year on the Pro Tour the wakeboarders had to ride and compete prior to the National Anthem...fun stuff. We faced t-shirts at the Waterski Masters that read: "Three event, not four."
The early champion for single year sales in a wakeboard shop was Tommy's Slalom Shop in Denver, Colorado and Bill Porter of Performance Ski and Surf. They both sold over 1000 boards each in 1991. It is a three-month season in Colorado.
Early in the sport, Lance Brug was making true surfboard/wake hybrids that were from Hawaii with innovator and pioneer Pat McElhinney.
The Raley came from Darin Shapiro's coach’s name, Chet Raley (also an early competitor).
The first wakeboarder that did a triple back flip was Butch Bendell. It was not on a wakeboard, but on a snowboard at St. Mary's Glacier in 1991 with a shovel-made kicker.
Scott Harwood did the world's best glide backwards with grab (indy glide).
The first Pro Tour host on ESPN was Tony Finn. Todd Weatherill was next. Then Jeff Barton. But the one that did more broadcasts than anyone was Doug Dunbar. He hosted the wakeboard segments on X-Games for a decade, even more for the pro wake and waterski tours.
The first rebel wakeboard magazine was called Launch Wakeboard Magazine and the editor was Jeff Barton (JB).
First wakeboard tower. Many believe it was Correct Craft because they patented it. Well, the first the pros got behind was Doug Dukane's boat. He was one of the original photographers and photographed many champions. He bought an offshore patrol boat in Florida and owned an old police car to pull it with. The thing was monstrous. The thing had a huge wake, pulling from the tower up high and blew knees out because of the killer landing. Shapiro flew almost 80 feet prior to landing from takeoff. It was a massive wake. Anyway, Larry Meddock (One of the staples at Correct Craft, whose son, Joey, is a huge successful photographer and former pro-rider) saw it, liked it and innovated the tower you see today. His design was the first made specifically for wakeboarding.
Trick skiers, surfers and snowboarders had a lot to do with the early trick progression in wakeboarding.
I will write more when my old mind remembers.