Influential wakeboard riders

Wakeboarding has progressed at an unbelievable pace the last ten years, and there have been countless changes and evolutions to how riders ride and where.

So who helped sculpt some of that change and push wakeboarding to where it’s currently at? Take a look at the list below.

10. Bob Soven

From reality TV star to one of the best riders in the game, Bob Soven’s arc through the decade was unlike any other rider, and his influence can’t be denied.

Whether you loved him for harassing his older brother Phil on TV (and online), his semi-serious-yet-light-hearted approach to new tricks like the “billion dollar baby” (tantrum to frontside 360), or pushing the limits with double ups and big stunts, chances are you were influenced by Bob in some way, shape or form over the last ten years.

While Bob the personality sometimes overshadowed Bob the wakeboarder, there’s no denying just how good he was the last ten years. He was featured on multiple magazine covers and became known for going huge and riding with his own legit style.

And if you think his influence fizzled the last couple years, think again. Without Bob’s viral antics, you wouldn’t have things like the Wakeskating World Championships or some of the funniest “wake beef” ever seen on social media.

9. Steel Lafferty

Known now for going viral with videos like a wakeboarding bottle cap challenge and chip-shotting over a golf-course-cruising alligator, Steel burst onto the scene in 2009 by becoming the first rider to ever land a 1080 off the wake. He kicked off the decade by winning both the 2010 Check Out Award and the Trick of the Year for his toeside backside 900 off the double up.

Steel Lafferty wakeboarding (air-time upside down).
Steel Lafferty burst onto the scene in 2009. Pic – Jason Lee

That same year he also became the first rider to ever land a handle pass backside 1080 (Aaron Rathy landed a backside 10 first, his was wrapped). While Steel’s approach to and presence on social media has changed over the decade, his approach to riding has not. In fact, he’s one of the big reasons double ups are still a thing.

Look to his Real Wake parts the last few years, his second Trick of the Year win in 2017 with the mute double back mobe, or his viral “Rusty vs. Steel” backyard bet for proof. Steel charges like few others these days, and does tricks that even less can pull off.

At the same time, he’s shed light on how to approach social media and bring eyeballs to wakeboarders in entirely new ways.

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