Bob Soven is one of the most likable personalities in water sports and he might have just singlehandedly put wakeskating back on the map with his announcement of the Wakeskate World Championships. The Active Water Sports team sat down with Bob just hours after his huge announcement to learn more about his upcoming event and all the other fun stuff he is doing these days.
What’s new with Bob these days?
Man, I would say it’s a lot of the same shit… spearfishing, surfing, hockey, and then wakeskating. That’s where a lot of my time goes. Other than that, I just do what my sponsors ask me to do.
You got a puppy recently. What has it been like raising the dog on a boat?
Bodhi is great. He’s fine on the boat when there are no other dogs. If there is another dog, he just humps all the time. He’s a boat humper. Only does it on the boat but he’s killing it. He’s getting into herding. It’s pretty cool to see how smart he can be. Border Collies are the smartest breed so we’ll see what he does.
Nice. So, how long have you been in wakeboarding now?
Let’s see, it has been twenty-three years.
So, from your days on Wake Brothers, to where you are today, how would you describe your illustrious career?
A rollercoaster. There have been the peaks and summits of being at the top, the being injured and floating under the radar for a while. I think I’m in a good spot again. I’m pretty happy with my career. There’s definitely things that I would change if I could have done things a little differently, but all in all I think I did the right thing most of the time.
Is it safe to say you’ve now passed your brother in wake notoriety?
Yeah, I mean, he had a tight niche pocket of exposure that he was clocked. I feel I transcend a lot of different boundaries not just in the wake community, but beyond. So, I don’t think there was much competition. He had a good run though.
Have you always been sponsored by Liquid Force?
Yeah, they were my first contract in 1997. We’re looking at 22 years together.
What has it been like having a sponsor that supports you with everything you want to do?
It’s awesome. Don and Aaron are my big brothers more than my bosses because they’ve been there since I was seven years old, raising me. It’s definitely a dynamic that many people don’t get to experience with their bosses. Unless you work for your dad. It’s been cool. I’ve gotten to experience a lot, learn a lot. It’s given me a lot of freedom to do what I want with my career. They’ve always been stoked and on the same page.
You used to compete. When and why did that come to an end?
It’s a grind and I was at a spot where I was looking to do more. Part of me wishes I had competed a little longer, but man it is a grind. I give it up to those kids that do it because you got to ride every day to compete and be at the top. You have to travel every weekend. It’s a great lifestyle, it’s fun, but it’s definitely hard on you. And, so, I think a part of me was ready to focus on other stuff. I’ve been competing and touring since I was ten.
We have to talk about your social media rant earlier this year where you called out some of the guys competing these days. Can you talk a little more about that?
Yeah I mean I just don’t fully agree with some of the guys’ antics and how they portray themselves, but that’s their gig. I look at the days of Danny Harf, Park Bonifay, Shane Bonifay, Watson. I feel like these guys today are just very different in the way they portray themselves. I mean some kids are awesome, don’t get me wrong.
I just sounded off on it and some of those kids I definitely disagree with. Noah got carried away so I ran with it. I was going to compete in wakeboarding and I still might. You might see me at nationals. I might ride wakestate.
If you entered the next pro wakeboard tour stop, how do you predict you would finish?
These kids are really good. And luckily I think I’d come in and have that x-factor, the bro-factor that the judges are looking for. I’d be doing stuff different than what they’re used to every weekend because I think even if my tricks aren’t as hard, just the breath of fresh air that I think I bring to the tour would get me pretty far. So I would say semis, maybe finals.
You’d at least bring more ladies to watch the Pro Wakeboard Tour. You just mentioned your Instagram beef with Noah. Would you consider yourself the world’s most talented redhead wakeboarder?
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely not Noah. Maybe Amber Wing.
It looks like getting off the contest train has been quite enjoyable. You’re traveling, barefooting, kickflipping, wakesurf boards, doing massive two boat wake to wake jumps. How do you come up with all this stuff?
I’m not sitting in a think tank with a piece of paper writing down ideas. My brain is kind of always on a roll, so they just come to me. Trust me I have had some bad ideas through the years, as well. They haven’t all been good, but yeah I think it’s kind of like how a painter can easily be creative. It’s pretty easy for me to think of new stuff. It’s all I know.
A lot of wakeskating going on recently, what’s up with that?
Yeah, so, I wakeskated growing up a little, but never good. I kind of just did it behind the jet ski for fun and I’ve always found myself to be closer friends with all the wakeskate guys so it will always have a spot in my heart.
Just recently my parents bought a ski boat so I’ve been wakeskating way more and getting carried away with it. The whole Wakeskate World Championship idea came up because WWA was flirting with whether or not they were doing wakeskating in worlds.
I still don’t really know if they are or not, but I’ve moved forward with my event. I talked to a couple of the guys and told them what I was planning, told them I’d get money and they are all about it. Most didn’t really take me serious though. Now we have about $15,000 raised and a venue site. Everything is ready to go so it’s on! I will be competing too.
You just announced the Wakeskate World Championships on Instagram. What are the details on this event?
So here’s what we got confirmed. Saturday, August 24th will be the event day. It will be in Georgia at this Olympic rowing venue. GoPro is doing a video for their YouTube channel. Alliance Wake is covering the event as well as hosting the video premiere at Surf Expo.
There will be sixteen riders. All the names aren’t confirmed yet so I don’t want to jump the gun there. But all the top guys that you know, Coco Mendez, Danny Hampson, Brian Grubb, Reed Hansen, Nick Taylor and George Daniels. There will be a lot of guys coming out of retirement, which is super cool. I think if we have one big event every year for wakeskating, I think that’s enough to keep people riding. I mean if you could potentially win over $10,000 that’s worth spending a couple hours every week having fun and getting ready for the competition.
You are accepting Venmo donations for the athlete first prize, how much money are you planning on raising and how do people donate?
Venmo @WakeskateWorldChampionships We are up to 263 dollars (laughs).
*Since the time of this interview, Bob has received countless donations including support from Active Water Sports, Remote Wakeskates, Radar Skis, Lead Wake, Body Glove, Reed Hansen, Harley Clifford, Danny Hampson and more. The total $ amount raised has not been disclosed.
Hey, $263 should cover a decent part of the bar tab for the winner.
Yeah, I got a lot of people that play that say it’s a bit of an altruistic kind of event to just support wakeskating. I think it will be a good return on people’s investments. I know a lot of people within this community that just want to support wakeskating so I think that’s the big push.
Full disclosure: I’m not making any money off it. None of the judges, announcers or anyone is making money. The Wakeskate World Championships is definitely everyone coming together and trying to make something happen for the sport.
What final words do you have for your fellow competitors?
I mean, let’s think. I would like to beat them all and come in second to Hansen. That would be ideal. And if I could choose third, I would want Grubb third just to really give some credibility to my second placement finish. But, yeah I’d definitely prefer Hansen to win.
Awesome, really appreciate your time Bob.
Make sure to follow Bob Soven to watch all of his wild shenanigans and stay updated on everything World Wakeskate Championships.