Wake Surfing: Mark Payne's Best of 2014

The 2014 competitive wake surfing season wrapped up in Las Vegas at the World Wake Surfing Championships in late September.  It was the exclamation point on what was a fantastic year of wake surfing behind various brands of boats cranking out killer waves at venues all across the United States and abroad. 

As a hobbyist photographer I enjoyed shooting photos of the athletes, spectators and, at times, the landscape at the different venues.   And although I would have loved to make all the events, my "day job" had other plans for me.  Nevertheless, we attended a good number of competitions and thinking back through the year there were so many great memories and new friends from the wake surfing community.

Perusing my collection of shots that numbers in the thousands, I came across many photos of athletic excellence, rider camaraderie, cool boats, sweet boards and family and friends having a blast in our great world of riding inland waves.  Photographs of big air and technical tricks I have plenty of.  For this wrap-up, I thought I would pull out a few photos that caught my attention for other reasons. 


While the photo above certainly won’t win any awards, it did jump out at me as a reminder of the diverse locations wake surfing takes us during the year.  This picture is from early in the 2014 season at the Supreme Wake Surf Championship in Parker, AZ.  You’d be hard pressed to find a photographer that doesn’t like to shoot out West.  There’s nothing like the golden hours in the desert!  


The photo above I chose, again, not for its technical merit but more for the story it tells.  This is Allison Sos boosting at the 2014 WWS Shred Fest in Colorado – part of the Endless Wave Tour.  I’m shooting from the opposite side of the wake and you can see that she’s way above the lip even with a knee brace on!  Allison battled ACL/meniscus issues all year and just recently had surgery to repair it.  She, along with several others, fought through injuries to compete throughout the season.  It was great seeing the determination and commitment from all the riders  - the progression this year was very impressive at all levels!


Here is another one from the WWS Shred Fest in Fort Collins, CO.  And it’s Chase Hazen riding.  It’s no secret that Chase is known for his huge air and traditional ocean surf style.  I picked this picture because it doesn’t show Chase going big, but rather, going long.  In the Long Board competition, that is.  The lighting was soft and indirect in this shot because of a big line of thunderstorms slipping over the tops of the mountains from the West.  We got lucky with the weather and only had some wind and showers.  In addition to Chase “Walking the Plank” in this shot, we saw a lot of long board skills that weekend in Colorado.  


For this picture we’ll bounce back across the country to the “left” coast.  This is Raleigh Hager going really big during a pre-comp session for the NWWSA Wake Surf Open in Monroe, WA.  This shot caught my eye because of the perspective of being right behind her.  Even from the opposite side of the wave, it’s obvious just how high Raleigh gets above the lip.  


Here is another shot from the NWWSA Open in Washington.  And it’s Parker Payne doing something that he rarely does – ride a skim board.  He’s midway through a drifter and I really liked this picture because of the way the wave looks.  For one, it is lit up like there are lights shining through it from the back side.  And two, I love the way the nose of the board literally cut the wave.  It looks like he’s carving it with a knife!

by Mark Payne