On Board With: Parks Bonifay

Parks Bonifay continues to make an impact on water sports.

Parks Bonifay Interview
Professional Wakeboarder Parks BonifayBryan Soderlind

Parks Bonifay has known fame since before he knew much else. As the first-born of Cypress Gardens show skiers Pete and Betty Bonifay, Parks set a Guinness World Record in 1982 for water skiing at the tender age of 6 months and 29 days. Since then, the “amazing ski baby” has gone on to become one of the most influential and legendary pro wakeboarders in the sport’s history, having been featured in a video game and had an award-winning documentary made about his life. These days he’s on the water as much as ever, continuing to live the only way he’s ever known how.

What was it like growing up in a show-ski family and having the Guinness World Record as the youngest person to water-ski?
Growing up at Cypress Gardens (now Legoland) was pretty damn fun. I got to run around and play all day! As for the record, honestly, if I didn't see the pictures and video myself, I don't think I would have believed it — I've held 6-month-old babies and have thought to myself how crazy it really was to ski at that age.

Before you turned 30 you'd been a character in a PlayStation video game and had a documentary made about your life. Does it ever seem not real?
No, it definitely seems real! I think it's all perspective; this is the only life I've known. Since I can remember I've been on the water: water skiing, barefooting, wakeboarding, you name it! I've never stopped, even to this day. But watching a documentary about yourself can seem surreal! [laughs]

How often are you on the water these days, and what are you doing most often?
If the weather is nice and I'm in town, I'm out on my boat or out at Lake Ronix (private training complex for the Ronix wake team) four or five days a week. What I'm doing depends on what I feel like. Some days that's wakeboarding, others it's wakesurfing, and I've been footin' a lot recently too. I live on a 13-lake chain, so it's fun to go explore.

You and several other wakeboarders recently made a trek across Florida via the Okeechobee Waterway with your wakeboats. What was that adventure like?
That was one of the most fun trips I've ever been on! In all my years growing up in Florida I've never really thought to do that. We were just living on our boats, stopping where we could, and exploring. Makes me wanna do more!

One place in the world you haven't wakeboarded that you would really like to ...
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.!