The Wakeboarding Hall of Fame’s mission is to celebrate and preserve the history of wakeboarding sports and to honor its pioneers and innovators while displaying significant artifacts for admirers to view and commemorate, both digitally and in physical locations.
I am so proud and excited to serve as President for this inaugural year of the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame! Since 1981 I have been active in this wonderful industry and bought my first wakeboard in 1983 from the Australians at IMTEC in Chicago. Little did I know, Tony Finn was there consulting with them as well and planning his own line of ski boards.
Soon after this event in my wake history, I sold this first Australian board at Sloan’s lake in Denver Colorado to Dave Roberts. In 1986 I threw our first competition at Soda Lakes with Tony Finn, Dave Schnider, Bob Jessen and Ed Arenas! Ed was crowned our first champion at the event! A few years later Tony Finn asked me to judge at the first World Championships held in Hawaii and the rest is history. I was in waist deep in the very beginnings of this incredible sport and was watching history being made each day.
About 10 years into my career I noticed many in articles that the history of the sport was inaccurately being told. I also noticed as the years went by that many historical people had been passed by and never mentioned or honored. This was troubling to me and many of my peers. In the mid 1990’s I decided to start the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame and inducted Jimmy Redmond and Tony Finn two of my early buddies and pioneers of Wake. I let the project lie until recent events prompted me again to continue.
Recently our industry decided to celebrate 25 years of history. I could not help but think of all the people that still had not been honored or even their stories told. Eric Perez the first two time World Champion, Lance Brug, Tom Carter, West Coast legends, Texas Pioneers, Colorado legends, Herb O’Brien, South Florida cable riders, Canadians and Australians all came to mind. These people had stories to tell and nobody even remembered them. Two decades of Wake were about to be flushed away if something was not done to start the preservation process.
I called many of my early friends that were neutral in the industry and counted on their help to get the business side of the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame in high gear. Collectively we all agreed on my issues and put the foot on the gas pedal.
You probably ask yourself as we and many people do why we deserve to tell the story? Well nobody has all the answers and there are many accounts of what happened and many erroneous stories and legends that will have to be sifted though. However, in the meantime, the best way to honor and preserve these legends is to let the people tell their story as unedited and as true to themselves as they can. Everyone is included! Every board manufacture, every rider, every photographer, every boat builder has a story that is important to preserve. Will we make mistakes? Yes! By allowing the original pioneers the ability to tell their story then we can also allow the other stories as well to be told. There are many different stories in history of great events and many have a different angle and some expose untruths or unknown facts. Our stories and historical facts will most likely take on the same winding path. It is important to do something rather than let it all fall apart of continue to be misrepresented by apathy or just good intentioned historians not informed of the correct facts. This will be a huge task and it will take a collective effort of our members and advisors and yourselves informing us of events, dates, and other historical information that will need to be preserved. It will take a community willing to work toward a common goal. That goal and mission is to Honor the Pioneers and preserve the History.
I am so proud of the members of our board and our advisors that are coming in now that the structure is in place. Help us with your stories, your heroes that have not been mentioned, your inventions, your photos and your financial support when appropriate. It is an honor to serve this industry with you all. God bless you.