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Wuyts' Wide Water Zeal

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All the boats edge toward the side of the river as families and competitors turn their attention towards the center. Banners, flags, concessions, fans and the sponsor, Red-Bull line the shore. The Rinker X1 boat cruises at a consistent 21.7 mph down the Wolf River creating a massive and steady wake. Gorgeous Red-Bull girls cheer and disperse free energy drinks as the funny, shaggy-haired Kaukauna boy glides on his wakeboard and starts his turn.
The announcer exclaims, “Taylor Wuyts is up next, known for his big air style and rotational tricks, here we go. Let’s see what he can do!”
Taylor’s wet feet grip his CWB board and water splashes on his 1080 vest. His knuckles clench on the rope as he jumps up, twists, and flies through the air and lands his signature, riveting Big Air trick. The judge’s faces were ecstatic as they scored him for smoothness and how big his trick was.
“Taylor Wuyts is going to leave Fort Fremont today with a perfect 10 score, 1st place!” The announcer excitedly claimed.
Taylor’s dad and the Red-Bull girls went wild and Taylor smirked and shyly said thanks as he received his plaque.
According to the dictionary, wakeboarding is a sport where one rides over water on a short surfboard and performs stunts while holding a rope towed by a speedboat. It’s derived from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing techniques.
So what exactly does it take to win a wakeboard competition? Do you go all out and extreme, or do you play it safe? Does it solely rely on the smoothness and the landing, or the motions and technique? Do you need a specialized boat and a CWB (Custom Wake Boards) vest and bindings? Or, is it the never ending passion for the water and the will to get better? According to Taylor, winning a wakeboard competition is a little bit of everything. “You have to have your own unique style. You need to have fun and enjoy what you are doing. You also need to be independent, go bigger with tricks and be smooth.” For advice, one should clearly listen to Taylor because he has accomplished becoming a three time wakeboard champion at Fort Fremont Marine.
Taylor always claims, “Go big or go home,” and that is exactly what he does. This attitude all started when he was nine years old and he got inspired by his older brother Jake to start wakeboarding. Practically living on their house boat in the Wolf River during the summers also added some inspiration to start this hobby. Summer days enjoying hackneyed tubing and swimming, the Wuyts family decided to try something different and wakeboarding stuck with them. Although his parents don’t compete, his dad always supported him and made his passion easier by purchasing a specialized boat that makes the wake bigger and steadier and by having other specialized wakeboard necessities.
Taylor doesn’t fit the typical profile as a wake boarder. Although extremely muscular, his six foot, two inch hefty frame and 200 pound body is much larger compared to the other competitors. Also, for constantly being in the sunshine his skin has a more fair color compared to the others. Plus, he’s not very flexible, he can’t touch his toes. Yet, his long torso, like Michael Phelps, helps him be an adept swimmer and according to Taylor, his ‘epic thighs’ and leg muscles aid in jumping, twisting, turning and landing accurately.
In addition, Wuyts’ whole mood changes when wakeboarding becomes the subject of the conversation. His eyes sparkle and you can see his great smile. People around Taylor know that wakeboarding is his zeal. This is expressed by his close friend Aaron Gagnow who claims, “Taylor is a god at wakeboarding. He wakeboards, that’s his life in the summer.” When Taylor was asked what his favorite thing about wakeboarding was he claimed, “My favorite part is being out there with my family and being able to fly through the air.” Taylor says that when he’s wakeboarding he feels free and is always thinking about new tricks and technique. Taylor states, “I can do hundreds of tricks like a nose grab front 180 (where you grab the board and rotate 180 degrees) and a stiffy (where you grab the board and shove it outwards), and all the Big Air (jumping through the air) tricks. Yet, I need work on my inverts (flips).” Taylor is coached by his older brother Jake and is supported by his family and friends. Taylor’s talent shines through with the two first place plaques he has received and the one second place.
Although Wuyts doesn’t have his house boat anymore he still considers it to be a big part of his life. The boat was two stories, could accommodate six people, and had furnished rooms, plus a clean patio where you could soak up some sun. Taylor explains, “The man that owns the marina sold our slip (spot where you anchor your boat) and all the other slips were way too expensive, so we couldn’t keep our boat in. Then my parents split up and we didn’t have enough money to afford it.” Taylor currently struggles with this set-back and feels as though losing his house boat may negatively affect how often he gets to wakeboard. Yet, Taylor always tries to stay positive and rarely ever expresses his negative emotions just so he can keep people happy.
If selling the house boat wasn’t an extreme downfall everything seemed to crash down when the family Rinker X1 went up for sale. Taylor explains, “My dad lost his job and it cost around five hundred dollars to fix the broken boat propeller. So, my dad ended up selling the boat, but next year we’re going to get a new one.” Taylor had to adjust from wakeboarding almost every day of the summer the majority of his life, to not being able to get out once in 2010. Taylor fears that he won’t get a new boat and regrets selling the old one but tries not to let it bother him. He’s worried that without wakeboarding, his dad, he and his brother won’t share as close as a bond. It was definitely a challenge, but Taylor keeps pursuing his passion by setting big goals for upcoming summers and one day planning to have his own boat that he can use with his kids in posterity.
In all, Taylor is an average sixteen year old boy that has learned to appreciate and love wakeboarding. A sport that is considered uncommon and unknown is understood and cherished by this sophomore. Wuyts finds himself participating in exclusive activities such as playing the bass guitar; hanging out with his friends and his pet snake Dave, skateboarding, wake surfing, wake skating and his ultimate favorite, wakeboarding. Through all the challenges and hardships, next summer expect to see Taylor Wuyts in his brand new boat, flying through the air, winning competition after competition because he will never give up on his devotion, no matter what.





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