A decision had to be made. Move forward with year three of an epic wakeboarding adventure knowing a tropical storm was off the coast.
Or sit back and watch the opportunity pass by.
As it turned out, nothing was going to stop Red Bull’s professional wake crew from their 2020 South Florida Loop Trip. The third time was the charm as the Red Bull athletes proved on their 200-mile adventure from Titusville to Miami along Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).
“We kind of took a gamble,” said Wake Skate World Champion Brian Grubb. “We knew we had our start point—Titusville—where we ended the loop last year and wanted to continue all the way down to Miami. So we knew where the start-finish line was. But it looked like it would be super rainy all week. A hurricane came through a few days before.”
The timing worked in the team’s favor. The storm blew through and it rained for three days. After that, the crew rode all the way down to Miami in four days and never got rained out.
Grubb was joined by fellow local and international Red Bull athletes, including first-timers Meagan Ethell and Guenther Oka, Italian wake champion, Massi Piffaretti, and wakeboarding vet, Parks Bonifay. The crew boarded a Malibu 23 LSV and a MasterCraft X-Star for the latest competition, which featured wakeboards, wake skates, eFoil and foil surfing along the IWC.
“Parks and I are kind of like the older guys on the team,” Grubb said. “We’ve been with Red Bull a long time. That’s why we started doing these trips two years ago—and we’ve just had a lot of fun with them.”
Guenther Oka turning a bridge into his personal playground. © BRYAN SODERLIND
Although the riders live in Orlando within close proximity to each other and spend ample time together on projects and trips, these journeys have a work hard, play hard quality—with the emphasis on play. After months of strapping into the wake boots for competitions and tournaments, it was a change of pace to have multiple days to just ride on the water.
“I think the best part about the trip is you just have to pick where you’re going to start from and where you’re going to end and then kind of have an idea where you’re going to stay every time,” Grubb said. “The rest of it, you just see what the water does, run into a lot of cool people, finding some cool zones to ride on and see what comes to you once you hit the water.”
While the first episode featuring the South Florida Loop launch dropped last week, Grubb was stoked about footage captured while riding the electric hydrofoil boards around the sand bars in Days 2, 3 and 4 (weekly episodes dropping until September 2nd).
The team also devised a bungee cord setup to perform slingshots into the surf wave from the back—an exclusive move Grubb was thrilled to reveal.
“Not too many people have that equipment,” Grubb said. “We actually did some slingshot whips with the foils—which have never been done before—that was pretty funny. We had a lot of toys with us.”
Meagan Ethell joined the Florida Loop for the first time. © BRYAN SODERLIND
Days on the IWC consisted of early mornings, glassy water rides and finding great wake spots all while trying to make it to the next stopping point before nightfall.
“Day 2, we got up at 5:50, on the boat at 6, waiting for the sun to come up. We had perfect water, deep. Just ride the channel. We’re heading south, probably rode for 20 miles. You’re covering a lot of ground and getting good content. Just epic riding.”
Massi Piffaretti and Brian Grubb are no strangers to the Florida waters. © BRYAN SODERLIND
After the 2018 coast-to-coast run through the Okeechobee Canal and last year’s exploration through North Florida, Grubb has refined the water tripping process. Choosing to venture out during midweek instead of the weekend when the crowds roll in, offered the team wide open spaces to execute their craft.
“On these trips, you do a lot of both. We ride a lot in the morning when the conditions are good. Then when the conditions deteriorate or get windy, we tie the boats together and cruise down south or pull up under a bridge and make lunch. You’re on the water all day, every day. I know Meagan and Guenther had a really good time on the trip—and they definitely can’t wait to do another trip like that.”
Tune in Dates:
Episode 2 - August 19, 2020
Episode 3 – August 26, 2020
Episode 4 (Final) - Sept. 2, 2020