Common Tongue : What is style?

Danny Harf

Danny Harf. Pic: Comps Nautique


Union considers itself a magazine that embraces the changing face of STYLE. So in a way, we are a faceless entity; a chameleon, adopting the current zeitgeist. But what exactly is style? And who gets to be the judge? Nobody and everybody. Each of us has our interpretation, our own explanation of the un-explainable. We love to talk about ‘it’, whose got ‘it’ and why ‘it’ is so significant. But what is ‘it’ and how important is it to wakeboarding/wakeskating?
The definition of style is illusive. It’s untouchable and it’s un-definable. It’s subjective. It’s the way we do things from wiping our arse to brushing our teeth; from the clothes we wear, to the way we sleep. It’s a title we give to the way we move, or the way we don’t move, the way we speak, the way we look, or the way we… (on and on and on)

Your style is purely an individual thing. It’s your personal radio wave broadcast to the masses. Grab or don’t Grab, Suck your knees or straighten them out, style on its own merit, is neither good nor bad. It’s not until the watcher comes into play that it begins to take on another meaning.

But who are the watchers? We all are. The media, the reader, the rider. We have all seen countless videos and read countless magazines. We all have our favourite riders and video parts that have subconsciously helped shape our riding. So without realizing, we play our part in the big debate, like it or not.

So the question is why do we care so much? It’s because style equals individuality. You’re style is your essence. And like all walks of life and all endeavors, the uncommon stuff stands out. The unique riders seem to speak a little louder. It could be the way you carve the water, your sticker job, your mid spin composure, whatever. Whether it’s wakeboarding, art, photography or just everyday life, Style is the difference between the ‘next best thing’ and the ‘who cares?’

Randall Harris

Randall Harris. Pic: Garrison

Randall Harris: Style is flavour.

“Every food has a flavour or a lack thereof. Whether a particular flavour is appealing to the sensory impressions or not is a matter of personal preference. Some flavours appeal to a wide variety of consumers and some are generally detested by most. Some flavours are ‘hate it’ or ‘love it’ flavours that divide the population. There are flavours considered to be an acquired taste, which require being subjected to over a period of time before being fully appreciated.
Style cannot be bought and style cannot be taught. Style can be developed over time. As a matter of fact I would say time spent polishing one’s craft might be a prerequisite of style.  Style is typically accompanied by a level of comfort and familiarity with the elements of said craft.
Style is not limited to certain tricks.  Style is in the details. It is purposefully accentuating movements and down playing others.  Style is self-expression.  The way a person walks and talks, their body language, their attire, and their aura can all be felt in and used to embellish their style. Vaya Con Dios.”

Chris O'Shea roosting

Chris O’Shea roosting. Pic:Schmidt

CHRIS O’SHEA – Style is subjective

All discussions about style are subjective, it is about opinions and reference points and not much else. It’s a subject that we can all be experts on, and a subject that I have based my whole career around. Or rather, my style is what has given me a career in the sport.
I’m not saying anything about whether I have the best style but I do believe I have had the best influences. Coming from skating and looking up to Randall Harris and Danny Harf. Watching them ride while growing up gave me knowledge and the understanding of what I liked and what I didn’t. Yes, I’ve been stubborn in the past, I’ve gone down the path of free riding because that’s where I felt the pursuit of style was rewarded fairly and where I would not have to sacrifice this.


“To me style is just being unique and different in a way that is appealing to your peers. I think style is simply the way something is done. Style can be good or bad, and everyone has a style. You just may like one style more than another, which is, simply your own personal opinion. In my opinion though, when it comes to wakeboarding, the best style is when someone can make something difficult look effortless. When a grab seems natural and not forced. Or when a really technical trick seems to be fully in control from takeoff to landing. I think the most stylish tricks are the ones you watch and make you want to go out and try it the same way. Or when someone does an old trick but makes it look like something totally new. So my advice to someone who is looking to improve their style is to watch other people ride, get inspired by what looks fun, and not by what looks hard! (bending the knees helps too).”

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