When the 2018 Nautique WWA National Wakesurf Championships descended on Waco, Texas it was an action packed weekend full of surfing and family fun. The Super Air Nautique G23 was on hand to dish out perfect waves as surfers of all ages battled it out for National titles.
A group of employees and athletes from the Nautique Boat Company visited the island of Puerto Rico to help rebuild a home devastated by last year’s hurricane. Even after a full year in recovery, there is still plenty of work to be done in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria caused significant damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure on the island.
Summer is in full swing and all around the US we’ve been hosting Nautique Swervin’ Weekends for the second year in a row. We caught up with Nautique team athlete Zack Worden to ask him a few questions on how they’ve been going so far. Zack has had the privilege of traveling the country and attending a handful of these laidback waterski events and coaching whoever wants to come out and ski. Zack has been dedicated to helping people of all ages get out and waterski for the first time and also providing current waterskiers with some tips to become better. We’ve hosted a good amount of events so far this season but there are plenty more Nautique Swervin’ Weekends on the horizon! Sign up for one near you right here.
So, how many Swervin’ Weekends have you done so far in total? Since last year I’ve done a total of seven Swervin’ Weekends, and I’ve got two more on the books for 2018! It’s been really fun so far, and looking forward to finishing the summer strong!
What do you like most about these events? Getting back to where it all started for me. It’s all about fun days on the lake and learning how to ski. A majority of the skiers who attend are learning to ski for the first time, or haven’t skied in years and want to show their kids that mom and dad are still “cool”.
Roughly how many first-timers have you taught? Tough one, I’d say we have at least six “first-timers” at each event so that would probably be upwards of fifty.
Since you’ve been going to these, what’s the youngest first-time skier you’ve gotten up? In Illinois last year we got a 3-year-old up behind the boat! She’s going to be a star!
Oldest? We had a kid that came out and he made a bet with his dad that if he ran the course then Dad had to learn to ski. Dad was probably 55ish and got up on his second try!
Has there been any cool memorable moments for you? Two guys, Jeremy and Levi, joined me at the Seattle stop in 2017. Jeremy hadn’t skied in 15 years and I taught Levi to ski on combos. Fast forward to 2018 and now their entire family spends the weekends on the lake. Jeremy can almost run the course and Levi rips around on the slalom ski. It truly brings a smile to my face to see families growing and bonding out on the water. Because of Swervin Weekends the waterski community just added another family!!!
How has the reaction to the new Ski Nautique been this year? People were in shock. It was something they have never seen before and better than they could have ever imagined. For seasoned skiers, the wakes (or lack of) blew them away. For new skiers the amount of room in the new Ski Nautique is unparalleled and the ease of getting in and out of the back of the boat was a fan favorite.
What parts of the boat make it better/easier for teaching and coaching? Being able to walk freely around the boat is a huge coaching tool when teaching any level of skier. Leaning against the engine box to show skiing position is a plus but my favorite would be the multiple angles to enter and exit the rear of the boat. Being able to help a skier put their skis back on and have room for multiple people to be in the back of the boat at once is awesome. It’s a very user-friendly boat.
I’m guessing you do a little coaching with people that already ski as well during the events, how have they reacted to the new boat? They love the attention to detail when sitting in the boat. Every little thing has been thought of. You hear a lot of “wow, look at that” and that sort of thing. Then there are the wakes. Every single skier mentions how impressed they are with the wakes. We also hear a lot of how there is nothing back there and how small the wakes really are.
Everyone has their own way of getting a newcomer up for the first time. Any tips for those people teaching first-timers this summer? Remind the skier to stay as still as possible. Keep their arms out and knees bent and have them imagine they are doing a cannon ball into the pool and to hold that position until the coach tells them to stand up. It works every time!
We got the chance this week to catch up with David Deep, Founder of Wake For Warriors, to see what kind of plans he has in the works for the upcoming summer season. If you don’t already know, David and his amazing team take veterans out for a day on the water with their friends and family to relieve stress and create lifelong memories. With events planned all year long, we at Nautique couldn’t be prouder to help support Wake For Warriors and give back to these heroes.
What exactly is Wake For Warriors?
Wake For Warriors is a non-for-profit organization that hosts multi-day watersports camps in several locations across the USA. Our mission is to connect with injured military veterans by sharing our passion for all things wake.
What has been the goal of the program since you started it?
Our goal has been to provide an opportunity for these riders to get on the water after experiencing life-changing injuries. Many of our veterans are learning to wakeboard or surf for the first time ever. Often they are a little apprehensive at first but that doesn’t last long. What motivated us to start Wake For Warriors was the special feeling that they get when riding behind the boat. In the wake, they find a challenge to self, a sense of accomplishment, and a peace that is hard to find in other parts of their lives.
Has that vision or mission changed at all after you began putting on events?
It has. Initially, we were more focused on the mechanics of getting people up and riding and making sure everyone had a good time on the water. However, our mission has evolved into building relationships that last beyond the 3-day event. While we still have a great time at our events, we’ve found that building community and being involved in other parts of our riders’ lives is of greater importance.
What are your plans for 2018?
Right now we have 14 events planned for 2018. We will also be attending the Masters at Callaway Gardens and a few other Nautique-sponsored events. Our events list and details are on our website (wakeforwarriors.org)
Which pro athletes will be in attendance?
We are extremely fortunate to have Jodi Grassman, Drew Danielo, Shawn Watson, Danny Harf and Austin Keen as part of the Wake For Warriors family. We’re hoping to get Mike Dowdy, J.D. Webb and Shaun Murray out to some of our events this year. It’s been really awesome to see these pro athletes show up at our events and jump right in. They not only share their expertise but they’re also great people to hang out with for a few days.
What boats will you have?
The Wake For Warriors team has a Super Air Nautique 230 . Thanks to our partnership with Nautique, we are excited to be adding a Super Air Nautique G23 this year. We will also be partnering with several Nautique dealers across the country to coordinate volunteers and provide boats for our events.
What have been some of the most memorable moments so far?
There have been so many great memories over the years that it’s hard to pick out a few. The Minnesota Wakesurf Championship when Doug (with some encouragement from Drew Danielo ) hit his first transfer during his competition run. Everyone in the boat and on shore went crazy. Tony (our first double amputee participant) riding wakeboard doubles with Shawn Watson was really cool to watch. The expression on the face of Julio the first time he got up on a surfboard after an entire day of falling. Seeing Stefan nail a 360 and then watching him surf standing up on his brand new prosthetics a few months later. When Matt presented me with his Purple Heart medal and thanked me for helping him feel normal again.
Any future plans or ways you want to grow Wake For Warriors in the future?
We are looking for ways to expand without compromising the family atmosphere at our events. We talk about having a facility that we could run our camps out of but no one has hit the lottery yet. We are also opening up slots to non-veterans when we have capacity.
How could someone get involved or donate to Wake For Warriors?
Veteran participants can sign up at wakeforwarriors.org. If someone is interested in hosting an event or volunteering they can send us a message on the website, via Facebook or Instagram. Tax deductible donations can be made on wakeforwarriors.org
2018 Wake For Warriors Schedule
Apr 27-30, 2018
Lake Olympia, Florida 34761, USA
May 3-6, 2018
Lake Austin, Texas, USA
Wake For Warriors Partners with Get Wet With a Vet and One More Wave
May 17-20, 2018
Navy Recreation Facility Lake Allatoona with MarineMax Atlanta
Jun 7-10, 2018
Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Hosted by: Bill’s Marine Service.
Jun 20 - 25, 2018
Lake Harding, GA
In partnership with Team Semper Fi.
Jun 27 - 29, 2018
Lake Norman, North Carolina
In partnership with Pass The Handle
Jul 18 - 22, 2018
Lake Minnetonka, MN
Wake For Warriors teams up with MarineMax on Lake Minnetonka, Wiggle Your Toes and the Minnesota Wakesurf Championship
Jul 26 - 29, 2018
Skaneateles, NY 13152
Aug 16 - 19, 2018
Table Rock Lake, MO
The Team at MarineMax will host their first Wake for Warriors event on Table Rock Lake
Aug 23 - 26, 2018
Lake Harding, GA
In partnership with the EOD Warrior Foundation
Sep 12 - 13, 2018
San Vicente Reservoir, 13500 Moreno Ave, Lakeside, CA 92040, USA
Wake For Warriors heads west to shred with M2O Marine