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WakeWorld Rider Link: Alissa Scharfer

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Alissa Scharfer

WW: Where are you from and how long have you been wakeboarding?
AS: I grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I first started wakeboarding the summer before I began college, in 2000. But being a total scholastic freak, I didn't get to do much riding during my college years.

WW: Where do you normally ride?
AS: I usually take out my dad's boat, a 19' Grand Skiff, on the intracoastal waterway. Although the boat is great for partying, and does wonders in shallow waters, it doesn't put out much of a wake. And the dual hull thing doesn't help much either. Not to mention, the waterway becomes a liquid interstate come weekends.

WW: When you came out with us, it was your first time riding behind a true wakeboard boat. What did you think of the wake? Did you notice much of a difference?
AS: Yes! I noticed a huge difference. I loved it. I felt like I had so much time in the air. It gave me much more time to think about what

I was trying to do. Maybe that's because I've spent most of my riding days behind a small Grand Skiff.

WW: How often do you get to ride?
AS: When I'm not preoccupied with school, I get to ride about once a week. I had a year break from studying so I was out on the water much more frequently. I also became quite the traveler, so for a few months my feet were binding-free. But seeing the world was at the top of my "to-do" list.

WW: How does the inner costal compare to riding in freshwater?
AS: Freshwater is much nicer...way more forgiving. Falls aren't as painful and the feel is completely different. Being less buoyant actually seemed to make me more comfortable riding.

Sean O'Brien spins 3 over Alissa

WW: Before you started wakeboarding, what other sports were you involved in?
AS: I trained in gymnastics until I turned 17-years-old. A major growth spurt and several injuries gave me more time to do other activities that I enjoy, as well as to try new ones. Besides riding, I like rock-climbing, surfing, skating, biking and SCUBA diving. I even get to go snowboarding every once in a while. I've tried a lot of extreme things, like sky diving and sandboarding. I'm definitely an adventurous girl.

WW: Do you think that your gymnastics background helped you with wakeboarding?
AS: Definitely. Gymnastics has helped me in every aspect of my life. I developed discipline, dedication and endurance because of the sport. And, of course, I am physically fit and flexible from years and years of training in the gym. My spatial awareness is much more accurate than most, and I'm quite the daredevil. My favorite event, the uneven parallel bars, also helped me to develop strong back, shoulder and arm muscles. Unfortunately, tumbling on the floor exercise was my weakest area, which would be most helpful when learning wakeboarding tricks.

WW: What is your favorite thing about wakeboarding?
AS: It's the closest you can get to walking on water. It feels like you're defying the laws of physics and gives you an unbelievable high.

WW: Are there any tricks in particular that you would like to learn?
AS: Lots and lots of flips and twists...ha! I don't know the names of all the crazy tricks I see the pros do, but I want to do it all. Honestly, a back roll would be nice right now. It was nice learning the grabs, but I'm ready for inversion.

WW: What other things consume your time?
AS: If I'm in school, it totally consumes me, aside from the occasional escape to kick back and have fun. If I'm on break, I'm almost always active...doing one sport or another. I do occasionally rest my body and relax by playing guitar or playing pool with some friends.

WW: You've had a really cool job for the past few years, what kind of work have you been doing?
AS: During my summers I would "work" on a 110 ft. liveaboard dive boat, the Gulfstream Eagle. Basically, the boat leaves South Florida, out of the Port of Palm Beach, and makes trips to the Bahamas to see some of the best

diving in the world. Each trip is about 4-8 days and carries about 17 passengers and five crewmembers. We go to West End, Exhuma and Cay Sal (my favorite). During each trip to West End, a shark-feeding dive is performed. The captain hand feeds sharks while customers rest on the bottom of the ocean floor and watch the sharks have supper. No cages, just open water. Not only did I assist in those dives, but I also helped fill tanks, cook, clean and check equipment.

WW: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while diving with sharks?
AS: Fortunately, I can't really come up with a great answer for that one. I once saw two sharks have at it during a shark-feeding dive. The captain released a large grouper head and two sharks went for it at the same time. They literally wrestled in a twirling ball for almost 30 seconds until one finally defeated the other and was gone in a second with his prize.

WW: What opportunities have you encountered because of diving?
AS: Besides seeing some of the best diving this world has to offer, working for Gulf Stream Divers has changed my life. Captain Mark Rose first introduced to me his passion of the sea and the sharks that patrol it. I was able to use video footage of the dives to do a long-term study on the effects of feeding sharks. I even made a trip to Brazil to present my research. I also wrote an article for Shark Diver Magazine about my experience on the boat and was featured in Maxim Magazine because of my job. The knowledge I gained also allowed me to start an educational outreach program called Project Shark Awareness, which has taught thousands of children about the biology, behavior and conservation of sharks.

WW: I'm sure you have heard this question a thousand times, but how did you get hooked up with Maxim? What was it like doing the photo shoot?
AS: A customer from the liveaboard dive boat I worked on sent my information and a

group photo to the magazine, without my knowing. They contacted me and said I had won the contest for Maxim's working girl. "Could I fly out next week?" they asked. I was like, "What? Wait...nevermind...yes, of course!"

It was awesome. They rented a large apartment in Manhattan (5 stories and very elegant) for myself and another model. It felt a little awkward getting all dolled up and having hundreds of pictures taken. And by awkward, I mean awesome! I still don't know who submitted that picture.

WW: So you just started med school about a month ago, how did you decide that you wanted to become a doctor?
AS: I love the sciences and love helping people. The decision wasn't that hard. I also like the fact that medicine can lead you in so many different ways. I could do research, be a general practitioner or write a column about medical advances. I'm sure that my exposure to medicine and hospitals at an early age had something to do with it too since my dad is a doctor.

WW: What area of medicine are you interested in?
AS: I like psychiatry a lot. I majored in psychology and am quite interested in human behavior. Recently I have been thinking about a more hands-on field. Maybe some type of surgery or perhaps interventional radiology. Basically, I don't know yet, but I'll have plenty of time to figure that out.

WW: Personally, I think that you should become an orthopedic surgeon and take care of all the wakeboarders when they blow out their knees. So once you finally become a doctor, you're going to buy a house on a lake, a brand new wakeboard boat and hire me as your personal wakeboard instructor, right?
AS: How big should the guest house be?

WW: That’s what I like to hear. Anyways, are there any people that you would like to thank?
AS: I'd like to thank my parents for buying me a boat and wakeboard to learn on, my boyfriend for teaching me basic skills and you, Sean, for showing me how to really get air. Oh yeah, and my gymnastics coach for helping me develop the skills of proprioception.


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Comments (1)

Commented on 1-6-2011 At 09:41 pm

Nice work guys. Sean thats a funny story mate, kind of like Sanders when he hooked up with Katy after she went for a lesson at his WB school.
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