Raphael Derome, 20-year-old wakeboarding phenom from Quebec, amazed the crowd of 25,000 spectators who lined the Garrison Channel at the Tampa Convention Center over the weekend as he dominated the field at Red Bull Wake Open and took home a lion's share of the $50,000 prize purse.
The contest, which was broadcast live to millions on NBC (as part of the Red Bull Signature Series), tested Derome and his rivals, more than 30 of the world's top wakeboarders, in three disciplines: Boat, Big Air, and Park.
“This was a long time coming for wakeboarding. Red Bull stepped up and made everyone in the sport realize this is what wakeboarding should be,” said wakeboard legend Parks Bonifay, who hosted the live event on site each day.
While Derome only managed a third-place showing in the Boat Final, there was no question that he was the most skilled, most complete wakeboarder in the competition, winning both the Park and Big Air competitions. Derome's closest competitor this weekend, Daniel Grant, managed a fourth place finish in Big Air and a third place in Park.
“It was a lot of pressure and there was no room for mistakes, so I went all out," said Derome, who signed on as a Red Bull ambassador just a few months ago. "I knew I needed doubles to win and I went for them. I’m super stoked I won.”
Derome added, “I’ve always been trying to ride all three events -- boat, cable and rails. I love all three aspects, and to ride a contest that is actually rewarding that kind of riding is a really big opportunity for me."
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