Wakeboarder Shaun Murray has accomplished more in his 30-year career than most do in a lifetime, from winning contests and incredible video sections, to getting his own video game and even competing on American Ninja Warrior. We caught up with Murray about his career.
What kind of boat and board did you learn to wakeboard on?
I’m not sure of the year, but it was a TriHull Galaxy. If you search a little ways back in my instagram feed you can see me sitting in it. My first board was the Skurfer Rage 1988.
You’ve had 23 pro model boards with Hyperlite in your career. Do you have one that really stands out?
It’s been 26 years with Hyperlite and 23 pro models currently. 2020 will be 24. The Bug board, from 1998, was the first big change when I wanted my board to be a lot wider, which allowed a much more free-flowing rhythm and style. Up to that point our boards were a little too aggressive and ski-like. Don’t get me wrong, I love skiing to this day, but when I’m standing sideways I’m going for a different feeling.
What’s changed the most about wakeboarding during your career?
Boat and wake sizes. They’re huge! And honestly not too cheap. But, it’s one of the best investments to be able to spend time with your kids and friends in an environment that really doesn’t exist outside of boating. Your kids want to be there, as well as their friends. Everyone is encouraging others while they’re riding, pushing each other, having a great time.
You’ve competed semi-regularly on American Ninja Warrior the last five years. What’s the experience been like? How does it compare to a professional wakeboarding contest?
I built the my backyard gym without even thinking about ANW because I wanted to be light on my feet and to be able to swing around like a monkey and get what I call “Monkey Strong.” Monkey Strong is something you’ll see on my Hyperlite board graphics from the past five years. I started competing after a few months of working out on my backyard gym when I saw you could apply to be on the show. ANW is a pretty crazy process. You have to apply, and if you get accepted, you get one shot to run the course, which is what you see on TV. You don’t get to touch the course before you go, let alone practice. You fall and that’s it for the year. Way more stressful than a wakeboard contest, but so many similarities. Training, eating right, training more, counting down the days. But it’s super fun and I love the challenge.
Where’s the coolest place wakeboarding has taken you?
When I wakeboarded behind a Super Air Nautique G23 on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
What’s it like being a character in your own video game?
That’s super crazy, especially since I’ve played video games since I was a kid. Seeing myself riding in the game and on the box cover of the game is something that is kinda weird but I’m super thankful for.
Since Wakeboarding Magazine started its “Readers Poll” in the mid-90s, you’ve made the top ten favorite riders list every year. How?
I’m not exactly sure, but I can tell you that whatever I do, I try to find a way to do it as good as I can and figure out a way to enjoy it. I’ve been able to travel the world for over 25 years, and meeting people in so many different countries has been and continues to be really fun. When I was a kid I had an opportunity to meet Andre The Giant who I thought was super cool, but I must’ve caught him at the wrong time while he was eating at a restaurant in the airport. He got really mad at me and my brother and my feelings about him instantly changed. Since my career started I’ve never wanted to give anyone a bad feeling like I experienced. In fact, I want them to walk away knowing that I’m a normal person like anyone else who likes to have some good times and conversations.