Every once in a while, something comes along that changes everything…
Wakesurfing draws heritage from nearly every major board sport of the twentieth century. The surfing industry lends powerful snaps, luscious bottom turns, and graceful carving with the poise of a ballerina while skimboarders have borrowed from the exploits of skateboarding tricks making even the coveted kickflip seem soon within reach. But the dichotomy between surf style and skim style in wakesurfing has been vastly due to the equipment utilized in pursuit of both major influencers. The greatest inhibitor for wakesurfing has been developing a board capable of retaining surf style characteristics while equally allowing versatility of performance with spin-based tricks.
Parker Payne has endeavored to overcome this technology gap for over six years through countless wakesurf board prototypes. Parker needs no introduction in the world of wakesurfing. He is one of the youngest riders to have competed on the Pro Wakesurf Tour winning numerous podiums while also earning second at the CWSA world’s in 2015 at only the age of sixteen. Nearly half of his life has been dedicated to taking wakesurfing to the limits of physical possibilities. Earlier this year, Parker teamed up with Florida-based Phase 5 Wakesurfers to collaborate on a joint project of creating the most versatile surf style wakesurf board on the market and bring it to production.
How did you get involved with wakesurfing?
The first board sport I got involved with was actually skateboarding; I think my parents bought my first skateboard when I was in preschool. They later purchased a boat, which led to wakeboarding and eventually wakesurfing. At first, it was just about fun… I didn’t even know there was a competitive aspect to wakesurfing. I started attempting skateboarding tricks behind the boat trying to progress, challenge myself, and compete with my friends but it eventually became about pushing the industry.
When did wakesurfing become a competitive sport for you?
I was thirteen at my first competitive wakesurfing event. I competed in the amateur division for twenty contests finishing undefeated for the season. I competed half the next season in the outlaw division before the Competitive Wakesurfing Association had a meeting with me - including Keenan Flegel - stating I had to turn pro. In that next competition as a pro, I landed a surf style 360 shuvit and a surf style big spin beating out everyone except Keenan and taking home second place. That was really the driving factor that led me into competitive wakesurfing.
What was your progression through wakesurfing boats?
The first boat I wakesurfed behind was a 2004 Tigé 22V with an aftermarket wakeboard tower - it was a ski boat through and through. My dad went to the local shop to rent a big, long surfboard that would stay afloat because we were basically riding whitewash… that is how I initially got hooked on wakesurfing. I progressed through newer and better boats from there but Tigé was where I started. Supra Boats was different from all the other boating manufacturers I had worked with - they were one of the first companies to recognize wakesurfing was going to equal wakeboarding in popularity. Supra called me stoked on wakesurfing and wanted to work on the journey together. I took the opportunity and the partnership with Supra Boats has taken me to the top.
Who were your biggest influencers for wakesurfing?
Keenan Flegel for wakesurfing, Shane O’Neill as a skateboarder, and Redmond “Red” Gerard for snowboarding. All of those guys can do every trick really clean as well as land regular and switch. The Art of Flight was a huge influence in my younger years as well… I look up to all those guys who just went really big and got amplitude.
Tell us about competitively riding surf style and skim style wakesurf boards.
I originally started on a Phase 5 Icon in 2010 then began training with a coach who put me on a surf style. Initially, I cross trained with the skim style wakesurf board to learn various tricks - like 360s since it had a smaller fin - but I continued to push the surf style board until I hit a peak. You simply can’t get the technical tricks like you can with a skimboard; a shuvit on a skim style board is an amateur division trick while a shuvit on surf style board could be considered a pro level trick. Every time I encountered a wall, I went back to the skim style board to train eventually becoming just as good on both styles of wakesurf boards. I used this to my advantage competing in both styles in the CWSA tournaments and the “pick your own ride format” for the PWT events.
What other board sports helped lend to your competitive wakesurfing career?
Funny enough, I actually met Sean Silveira competing in Flowrider events long before he joined the wakesurfing community. Texas actually has real winters so during the cold months, I spent time at a local Flowrider venue called Aquashop in a controlled climate where I could continue working on tricks. When I first heard Sean was going to be competing in wakesurfing, I thought, “I can’t believe it… he’s going to crush us all”. But yeah, I definitely spent some time flowboarding. Finless skim style - like flowboarding - is very similar to snowboarding in that you have sharp rails and no fin, which forces you to learn edge control.
What led to the development of your first pro model, the Day 1 Wake Payne Killer?
I originally started on a wakesurf brand called Austin Surf Company - my coach, Billy Clark, made hand shaped boards - but I would frequently break boards from doing big airs. At my third contest at age thirteen, Day 1 Wake was a major sponsor for the competition. The leading male and female got to play Rock, Paper, Scissors for a new Day 1 wakesurf board. I, of course, played Rock, which no one ever expects, and won the board. I talked with Day 1 Wake owner, Bryce McDonald, after the competition and we began developing a board that could withstand the abuse of competitive wakesurfing. The prototype we developed became the first of thirty generations of the Payne Killer, my pro model with Day 1 Wake. Day 1 gave me the opportunity to pioneer blunt nose wakesurf boards allowing you to ride revert while still staying in the wave. I also learned a single concave transitioning into double concave made the fastest boards while using a thinner board allowed faster rail-to-rail transition. The blunt nose also compensated for the thinner rails by providing more volume in the nose. The Payne Killer is the board that has taken me to numerous podiums throughout my wakesurfing career.
"I wanted to use all of my knowledge gained from years of wakesurfing pro and numerous generations of board development to create something everyone can ride, a board that feels fun and alive beneath your feet, is priced right, offers top quality performance, and is still durable." - Parker Payne
What can you tell us about the development of your new pro model, the Phase 5 Phantom?
The Phase 5 Phantom represents my career. I wanted to use all of my knowledge gained from years of wakesurfing pro and numerous generations of board development to create something everyone can ride, a board that feels fun and alive beneath your feet, is priced right, offers top quality performance, and is still durable. The Phantom is designed to be a pro level board friendly to all levels of wakesurfers including beginners. And unlike the traditional $299 “welcome to wakesurfing” banana boards, you won’t develop the inherent bad habits that hinder the progression of your wakesurfing abilities. This board will accommodate any hobbyist who doesn’t compete but still wants to learn advanced level tricks but it can also take those with a competitive mindset to the top tier of wakesurfing.
Each wakesurf board I developed over the years was a series of small tweaks attempting to gain better handling, more speed, and larger airs. The Phantom is not a board designed from the ground up but rather the culmination of all the trials and tribulations faced from over six years of board development. Joining Phase 5 has given me the opportunity to work with a high-end production facility with access to CAD designers, 3D CNC routers, and professional glassers - you simply don’t find that level of in-house wakesurf board production anywhere else in the US. Phase 5 and I went through several prototypes to find the perfect synthesis of all those elements - that is the Phase 5 Phantom we are now releasing to the public, and I’m excited for everyone to get their hands on this model.
What are the most difficult tricks you have had to dial in on this board?
The frontside big spin was one - I actually landed that during a Pro Wakesurf Tour stop - but the most difficult trick was probably the revert three shuvit, which is a total skim style trick. People will beat me up if they see me land that trick - especially the purists who believe surf style should strictly be airs, bottom turns, and snaps - but my goal has always been to constantly push the sport even if that means pushing a few metaphorical buttons. The blunt nose design accommodates for revert riding and my focus on skim style wakesurfing elevated my desire to bring those tricks to the surf style palette. My next big goal to accomplish during the offseason is landing a kickflip - I have been trying to film that video for three years. Living in Florida with a year round riding season will allow me to focus more time on that one trick. I can hardly wait to post the video of just popping the kickflip, stomping it, and riding away… then fade to black.
We had the opportunity to demo the final prototype and it is nothing short of expletive amazing. We even used the Phase 5 Phantom with some of our beginner students and found it garners better body positioning, more board control, and exponentially better results in contrast to lower-end wakesurf boards currently available on the market. This board is the epitome of what wakesurfing should feel like and it belongs on every boat and in every wakesurfer’s quill. The Phantom is the quintessential essence of bridging the gap between surf style and skim style behind the boat while simultaneously being the most fun we have ever had wakesurfing despite sampling hundreds of other wakesurf boards over the years. In all honesty, you should stop reading this and order one now - yes, it is that good. Tony the Tiger wanted to break his contract with Kellogg’s after riding this board stating, “Frosted Flakes just aren’t that great in contrast to the Phase 5 Phantom”. All kidding aside, the new Phantom is a pioneer in wakesurf board design and we tip our bucket hats to Phase 5 and Parker Payne for creating our favorite wakesurf board of the year.