Texas – The Early Days

By: Pat McElhinney

Texas – The Early Days

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow did Texas get so tangled up in the roots of the early days of Wakeboarding? Well it could have been like this:

It was the summer of 1990. Stacey and I had a place on the river and a good friend of mine, Ross Laechlin came by one day with a high school buddy of ours Lance Brug. His family moved to Hawaii his junior year, but he came back from time to time to see his Grandmother. Lance was truly one of the first. He had unmatched style, stood on the podium at the first and second World Championships, the owner of Kirk Hawaii Boards, and a true Hawaiian legend. The day they showed up Lance had this little glass surfboard with him. It had windsurfing foot straps on it, and he said he had it made for behind the boat. I just looked at him and said bring it. I had tried a skurfer a few years earlier and wasn’t too impressed.

August 1990. I’m holding the prototype board Lance brought to Texas

After I saw Lance’s first set I was in awe, and after mine I was hooked. His four-day visit to his grandma turned into a thirty-three day stay at my house. We were on the water every day, and the more I rode, the more this board thing started picking at my brain.(you know what I mean) A few weeks in, and after Lance, me, and everyone else wanted to ride this board it started to show some wear. Lance ordered five more from his partner in Hawaii. I knew one would be mine. About a week or so later the boards arrived. Each one of its own, hand-made, and bad-ass. Did I say one was mine? They had come straight from the surfboard factory in Hawaii, and had no grip pad on them. Lance said he had heard of a guy in Austin that was into the boards, and could hook us up. We jumped in my truck and headed for Austin. This would be my first meeting with wakeboard guru Jimmy Redmon.

Here’s the board I rode in 1990

On the way there I was informed that Jimmy and his brother had a shop that made pads for jet skis. On the side Jimmy had a board company, Red-line Designs. Yep that’s right! Boards made for behind the boat, made right here in Austin. He had been riding side stance behind a boat for years. Jimmy was great, he was stoked to meet us, showed us his jetski pad operation, and then showed us some of his red-line stuff. We got our grip pad, and exchanged numbers. On the way home my head was spinning. I knew Lance would have to go home soon, but here was a guy that was into this as much as Lance, just right up the road, and cool as shit. That day was the start of a twenty five year friendship with Jimmy.

On the way home from dropping Lance off at the airport, Stacey leaned back in the seat, and said, “Ok I know that look, what are you thinking?” I told her I could feel this, I could smell and I could taste it. I told her this board thing was going to blow up, and we could be a part of it. She not only smiled, and said let’s do it, she grabbed my hand, and ran step for step right by my side.

Early Redmon design by Jimmy Redmon

In less than two years the Mcelhinney Wakeboard School was up and running. Stacey was elected Secretary of the newly formed World Skiboard Association, and opened the first bank account right here in Seguin, Texas. Jimmy Redmon was made head judge of the WSA, defining the way contest were run, and setting the standard for years to come.
I had taken second place at the 1992 world championships, and singed a nice contract with O’Brien. (Beginning a career trying to catch Darin, but hey, COME ON! Have any of you ever tried to catch a Scud Missile?) But that’s another story…

Later that year the president of the WSA, Todd Weatherill landed the O’Brien rep gig in Texas, and moved down to reinforce this triple threat.
By the end of 1992 Stacey, Todd, Jimmy, and I were so mixed up in the politics of it all, well Texas was destined to be a power player. As a new year was fast approaching, an old battle cry started to ring. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

With Tommy’s help and advice, he passes the torch to Kendal Curtis who brings the 1993 Worlds to Dallas. Texas is now the third State to host this contest. (4th worlds)
The Dallas Worlds brought the exposure of this new sport to many, and soon Texans were coming out of the wood work to be apart of the action. (Many name you know. More to come on them)
The sport was still very young. The West Coast had some guys on boards, but they were pretty much doing their own thing. The industry in Florida had not accepted us as a legitimate sport yet!!!

1992 Worlds. Darin got 1st, Eric got 3rd and I received 2nd place

It was Time for Texas. Stacey and Todd helped with the WWA for years to come. I rode the Pro Tour until the 1998 flood pushed the waters of the Guadalupe River up four feet in the second floor of our house. (again, another story) And Jimmy, well he continues to write his legacy. I’ve always said, if you want to be in the right place at the right time, you better be in Texas. Thank God I am.

Keepin’ it real,

Joe Ciaramella
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