“There always comes a time where you think that nothing else can be done on a wakeboard, and sure enough someone goes out does something new.” Aaron Grace
Having been riding since 1999, Aaron Grace has seen it all. As a former ‘pro’ himself, he is now working within the walls of the Liquid Force offices in the US as Team Manger with some of the most talented riders ever assembled on one team. So what is life like for the man who has everyone else’s dream job?
Lets start with the basics. What’s your role at Liquid Force? Well my ‘title’ is Team Manager. However, I also work very closely with Matt Gleason and Don Wallace in the marketing department. I work closely with the R&D and product development department because I am the middleman between the athletes and product development so I am constantly relaying ideas/improvements/changes/etc. from the athlete to the engineers so that LF can always be at the top when it comes to innovation.
How long have you have been involved with LF, in one way or another? What is the Grace/ LF timeline? Well let me think… It has been a long time… I think I first started to ride for LF in about 1999, so I have been a part of LF in one way or another for almost 15 years. It seems pretty crazy to think about.
Are you involved with other companies as well? Yes. I run the wake program for both Spy Optic and Monster Energy.
What’s a typical day for you? It kind of depends. It always starts with me checking my phone as soon as I wake up to see if there are any e-mails that have come through during the night that need attending to right away. Wakeboarding has become a global sport, so I am constantly dealing with athletes in all parts of the world. Then coffee. Followed by more coffee. I usually get to the office around 8:45 or 9:00 and get into it… E-mails are a large part of my day. It is amazing how many e-mails I get throughout the day! And working for three different companies just means I receive that many more. Depending on the time of the year, my day can differ a bit. This time of year I am up to my neck in contracts. Once the contracts are wrapped up I move into organizing BROstock; helping to get the Monster Energy Triple Crown series dialled in; getting products to athletes, whether it be boards, drinks, glasses, et cetera… LF has just started to film for a new team video, so organizing shoots and everything else that comes along with a video is becoming a daily a routine as well.
LF have really embraced the cable culture both internationally and in Oz. Do you remember a time when LF consciously chose to start focusing on cable as well as boat or was it a gradual thing that changed as the sport changed. I think a lot of it came from a couple of our international distributors, Australia and especially our European distributor. Cable is 99% of the market in Europe and we had to produce product that was specific to riders needs in that area. The good thing is that right about the time we started developing these cable specific products, the cable “boom” started here in the States. It is great for the sport; it gets so many others involved that wouldn’t normally have the means to wakeboard or wakeskate because a boat is not needed.
As LF team/marketing manager, what role do you think riders play in the promotion of a brand and product and its success? The athletes are a gigantic part of the brand and marketing. You can have the best product on earth, but if you don’t have a big name behind it, promoting it, helping push it, showing how the well the product works, then the brand is not going to make it nearly as far or have the impact on the consumer. The athletes help drive the brand and show how great the brand is. From day one LF has always focused on having the best athletes to promote the best product. With that said, to get the best athletes, you better have the best product as well.
What is your role at Spy? I have always wanted to have the best team of athletes to promote the best brand in eyewear. I like to see companies that might not necessarily have a wake background, companies that come from surf, snow, skate, etc.… and support wake. Lately I have been getting Spy involved with sponsoring cable parks. They are also a big supporter of BROstock, which is great. BROstock pretty much sums up Spy’s overall vibe. It’s pretty cool to see a company like Spy, which has been around for 20 years now in the action sport world, support wake as much as they do.
Wakeboarding is constantly evolving, be it boat wakes getting larger and larger, cable parks, winches, wakeskating or wakesurfing… You have a connection with a larger board sport community, do you ever hear the words “Wow, I’d didn’t realise wakeboarding was heading in this direction!” and if so how do you reply? I hear that sometimes, but I also try to get it shown to influential people in action sports who don’t really pay much attention to wake. I’ll show them Daniel Grant videos, the Danny Hampson wakeskate video, Harley behind the boat, Graeme videos etc.… And that’s when they are blown away. I usually hear things like “I didn’t know these guys were doing that stuff, that shit is crazy…” And I’m like “Yeah, I know.” I am hoping that a cable park opens here in Southern California soon. I really think it will help out the sport globally. Just about every company that does sponsor, or should sponsor/support wake, is based in Southern California. We need to get the people from these companies out riding to show how fun the sport is and how great the athletes are, and in turn hopefully get more support.
Given that you have seen a lot, do you ever look at guys like Daniel, Harley, and Bob in disbelief at what can be done on a wakeboard now both behind a boat and on obstacles? Heck yes! And not just those guys. There are so many incredible wakeboarders right now. To think where the sport was ten years ago and where it is now is crazy. There always comes a time where you think that nothing else can be done on a wakeboard, and sure enough someone goes out does something new. Plus with how big guys are going now. Wakeskating is getting fucking crazy now as well. I can’t believe what guys are now doing. That blows me away more than wakeboarding.