Pictures courtesy of EPIC WakeBoats
WakeGirls: How old are you, and where are you from?
Raequel: I am 20 years old and from Chico, California where you can wakeboard and snowboard in the same weekend right now!
WG: How did you get into wakeboarding?
Raequel: We had a little boat while growing up that we would take to the lake for family outings. Wakeboarding was something we did a few times a year until I was about fourteen. Then things really kicked off because we met our friend Kyle at a little clinic and he started taking us out on his boat with his friends all the time. That’s how we really learned how to do tricks and become aware of local contests. Our friend Justin hooked us up with quality CWB boards and convinced us to try riding the Pro Tour stops. From there everything has swiftly become an incredible, gnarly dream come true!
WG: Who do you usually ride with, and where do you do most of your riding?
Raequel: Shawna, my Mom and Dad ride together. Part of why I love wakeboarding so much is because it brings our family together so well when we go on camping trips to certain lakes in our area. I also ride with the Chico State Wakeboard team a lot, whether on Lake Oroville or winching a mountain flume. Marcus Kistler on the team has been helping me quite a bit lately. Oregon rippers like Alex Scagliotti and Rob Carter come down and shred with us too! We also ride with Teri and Michelle Leroy, who take us wakeboarding and bungee jumping!
WG: What board and set up are you currently riding? What do you like about it?
Raequel: Shawna and I both ride the CWB Sapphire 134 women’s board. It has a core spine on the bottom that makes landings a lot softer because it makes the water split as you land. It’s not too slow or too fast and it lets you build the speed up however you want. I ride with the Ember bindings because they are extremely comfortable, while still allowing you to come out of the bindings on those awful face plants. I haven’t used soap in years since my feet fit right into them due to hinge tech!
WG: What are your plans for 2009?
Raequel: As far as competitions go, we will be at all of the Pro Tour stops that women are going to this year, plus Nationals and Worlds. Collegiate Nationals in San Diego kicks off in April, and then Board Up Miami is the next weekend. Local contests like INTs and Rail Jams will be exciting too. I have a really exciting clinic planned in Denver with Mile High Wakeboarding.
Other than that I will hopefully have time for camping with friends and family.
WG: How does it feel to land a 720?
Raequel: Landing a 720 for the first time felt out of this world because I had been trying it for over a year! It still feels amazing every time I land it.
WG: What is your favorite and least favorite trick to do and why?
Raequel: It’s hard to choose, but one of my favorites is a melon front flip to fakie because you can hold the grab for so long. That’s the best feeling in the air that I can think of at least. I probably get more excited after I land a 7 though. Just seeing how much you can poke out a grab behind the boat or a press on a rail is really fun too.
WG: Are there any specific tricks that you’re working on for this season?
Raequel: There are a few. I want to work on more backside spins because most of mine are frontside.
WG: What do you like to do when you are not wakeboarding?
Raequel: I am a sucker for anything you can do outside. I snowboard and ride my dirt bike, I ride my bicycle to pretty places, I go camping and hunting, running/hiking in canyons and finding caves, finding rope swings…those are a few things I do.
WG: We read on your blog that you were going to start hunting again. Did you, and if so, tell us about it.
Raequel: I had knee surgery at the end of last summer. (I’m all better now, thankfully!) Since I couldn’t stress my knee right after surgery, I found other ways to still enjoy outdoors and be intense. My other gimp friend at the time took me to the mountains and we started shooting clay pigeons a lot. When pheasant season came around, I was “prepared” to not miss very much while hunting with my Dad. I also bought a hunting puppy, Bella. She got really good at pointing over the winter. I went quail hunting too. I clean and cook all the birds that I hunt and have come up with some good recipes!
WG: We read that you were a fantastic cook at the Shasta houseboat trip last year. What is your favorite dish to make? Can you share the recipe?
Raequel: I like making family recipe dishes, and making my own. Last night I came home and thought I didn’t have anything besides canned soup for dinner. I found some coconut milk and frozen shrimp and I decided to make coconut shrimp with it. I just breaded the shrimp in a little flour mixture, and sautéed it with butter and a little bit of sugar with toasted coconut flakes. I’m usually healthier than that though, ha ha. My mom has handed down a lot of really good recipes like homemade chicken enchiladas, lasagna, pot roast and sauerbraten to name a few.
WG: What sets EPIC boats apart from other boats on the market? What are your thoughts on the 23e?
Raequel: Getting height with an Epic is effortless. I say effortless because you don’t even have to cut out much to achieve massive height, and you also don’t have to spend a bunch of time filling extra fat sacks to make the wake huge. All you have to do is switch the ballast button for a few moments and you have 4,000 pounds of stock filled up. Epic has made a boat specifically for wake sports, so just about every detail when it comes to hull design, engine, and sustainability is made especially for avid wakeboarders who want to go big. The 23e electric boat has been a secret in the works for quite a while and I am so excited to finally be able to open my mouth! Our sport has unfortunate consequences such as being “expensive” and “environment hindering”, but those misfortunes disappear with the 23e. Not only is it going to be inexpensive to ride, but it’s safer to you and the environment. There is way less fuel to burn, C02 emissions, and almost no carbon monoxide emissions with this boat. Shawna and I could probably take four sets or two really long wakeboard sets without burning a drop of fuel. We could wakesurf for three hours without burning fuel.
WG: Tell us about your other sponsors.
Raequel: CWB keeps on improving in design more and more each year. We have a team of extremely talented and comical athletes; lead by an extremely talented and comical team manager, Steve Bates. Check out CWB TV and the other videos on the website and you will see what I mean. Bern helmets makes the most awesome and comfortable helmets ever! For each sport they have different helmets and even different pads, caps and beanies you can change inside your helmet depending on which sport you are shredding! They also make helmets specifically for the shape of women’s heads. Arnette eyewear has quality, sick-looking shades that won’t even cost your arm and leg to afford. If the Vandall wears them you know they’re gonna be fly! Flojos shoes make sandals that don’t give you rashes, blisters or shin splints; just style and comfort.
WG: Are you involved in any board or gear design for CWB?
Raequel: I help out with graphic designs on all of their female gear. The structure of the boards has always seemed so perfect to me that I can’t think of much to improve the women’s boards.
WG: We understand that you had several injuries last year. How did they happen and what have you been doing to come back from them?
Raequel: I initially hurt my shoulder trying a front mobe in Florida, while I was working at the Wakeboard Camp. Three days later, I went to the OWC cablepark which I shouldn’t have, and I dislocated it. I worked really hard, rehabbing it and going to physical therapy until I was ready to wakeboard again. I rode well for about three weeks and then blew my knee out on my second trick at the Texas Pro Tour stop. I had surgery from the same doctor that works on the SF Giants and 49ers, endured rehab, I went on 20+ mile bike rides uphill to nearby towns and back to my house, and I waited six months to ride again. Now I am almost 100% back, doing mobes again and almost everything else. I wait until I really feel like doing each trick again, and then I land it right away.
WG: Do you have any suggestions on coming back from an injury?
Raequel: I gave my shoulder an A+ worth of rehab, which is why it feels like an A+ now (a year later). If you do a B-, a C, or an F, then that is how your injury might wind up. That’s the best way I can explain it. It’s hard to find the time and desire to keep up on the special exercises, but it’s worth it. Other than that, don’t go back until the doctor says it’s ok. Injuries are a terrible consequence of all levels of extreme sports. But we all can take comfort in knowing that they happen to almost everyone, and with proper care we can heal and return to doing the things we love.
WG: Which rider inspires you the most and why?
Raequel: The answer to that question has always changed, and probably always will. There are so many amazing people that I have met, who have influenced me on and off of the water. But the one person I know will always be influencing me is Shawna, because I ride with her the most and will always relate to her the most. We aren’t competitive against each other, but I am always inspired to push myself when I watch her ride. Someday when we start getting too old to do certain tricks, I’ll still probably compare myself to her and say “If she’s still doing it, then I can still do it.”
WG: What do you expect your sister Shawna to do this year?
Raequel: She is a crazy spinner. Whether it’s regular or switch, toeside or heelside, backside or front side. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a toe back three and/or a heel back five from her. I’ve seen her get close on certain mobes too that I don’t think many girls have done yet, if any.
WG: What is playing on your iPod right now?
Raequel: Latin music that I dance to in my Zumba class at the gym! Salsa, Latin pop, Latin rap (Pitbull)…ha ha. I love Tom Petty, Slightly Stoopid, Pennywise, Niel Young and Kenny Chesney.
WG: What is your favorite show on TV?
Raequel: I haven’t watched TV in months, but I like House when it is on.
WG: What is the last book you read that you really liked?
Raequel: I just read Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, which is probably the best nonfiction I have ever read. I also just read and really liked the play, Twelfth Night from Shakespeare. Other than the Twilight series, (which is probably what Shawna said she liked), Dean Koontz’s The Good Guy was a good thriller I’ve read recently.
WG: Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
Raequel: Working at a pizza place had it’s ups and downs, but it was all a good experience because it’s made me appreciate other jobs more. The very worst job was cleaning cat cages for this woman who breeds cats. When Shawna and I stepped into the house, it smelled like a lot of cat pee from the beginning. But when we opened the doors to the “cat rooms”, we had to slam them shut immediately, realize what we were in for, and try to breathe through our mouths while opening the door again. I don’t know how we endured the smell that day (it was a one day job). I could barely breathe. These particular weird cats looked more like rats too, even the kittens. I felt sorry for them all in their tiny cages and they kept on whining at us the whole time.
WG: Do you have any suggestions on how to get more women involved in the sport?
Raequel: I’ve been handing out flyers all week for the Chico State Wakeboard team tryouts and most girls say, “I’d like to but I suck.” To get more women involved, we need to let the ladies know that you don’t have to be clearing the wake to love wakeboarding. Girls need to know that it’s not just a guy’s sport, and that it’s ok to just go out and ride around as long as you are having fun. The guys I know love to help girls improve, and they love bringing girls on the boat because girls remember things like towels, food, water, and sunscreen. You don’t have to be doing flips or spins or even clearing the wake to be a “wakeboard chick”. If you have common boat courtesy (no mud on your feet, cash for gas, gratitude…etc) then you make a great boat buddy.
WG: What do you do to keep in shape for wakeboarding?
Raequel: I lift weights (small weights and lots of reps, I’m not trying to be bulky), jump on the trampoline a lot, and do lots of cardio. If I’m not biking or running, I’m on a machine or in the dance class at the gym. I even roller blade (it actually works the small muscles in your lower back that get sore from wakeboarding if you don’t ride often).
WG: What do you hope to see change in wakeboarding?
Raequel: I foresee and hope for more of a change coming with less gas being used in the wake industry. The Epic electric boats are a way that will change wakeboarding to an immense and positive extent. I know other boat companies are coming up with ways to be economically and environmentally efficient as well. With the USA alone consuming 17 million barrels per day, it is time to embrace habits that will sustain our sport. More cable parks as well as winching parks are in the works as well, which is going to make wakeboarding more available to people of all financial status.
WG: Any last words?
Raequel: Thank you to my Mom and Dad, who are the coolest parents Shawna and I could ever ask for. Thanks also to all of our sponsors; Epic Boats, CWB Boards, Bern Helmets, Arnette Eywear, and Flojos Shoes. Thank you God for the life that I have been blessed with and all the people I have met through wakeboarding. And thank you, Michael, for this interview and for creating this website for the girls!
Pictures courtesy of EPIC WakeBoats