Much like with the Oscars, Wake Awards winners are voted on by a panel of industry experts. The annual affair has been running for over two decades, and athletes covet a Wake award as the highest honor.
The 2021 Wake Awards, presented by Boating’s sister title, wakeboardingmag.com, were bigger than ever, with 20 categories that included new awards for women, plus wakesurfing and wakeskating.
For the first time, there were separate awards for women in both the park and boat categories, making those awards equal to the ones honoring male riders and shining the spotlight on more female riders. Texas native Anna Nikstad repeated her 2020 win for Female Park Rider of the Year. In the men’s division, Brazilian Pedro Caldas won the Park Rider of the Year award for the first time, achieving a lifelong dream.
Slovakian Zuzana Vrablova and Thailand’s Daniel Grant won Wakeskater of the Year. Both athletes took the fan vote in the reader’s poll, making them not just the best, but also the most popular wakeskaters on the planet.
The Indmar Trick of the Year awards went to Julia Rick from Germany, who landed a KGB540, and to Orlando’s Trent Stuckey, who landed an impossibly dangerous Rage Cage for the first time. The Indmar Trick of the Year award in the wakeskate division went to Lake Havasu’s Cole Kraiss.
In the boat category, seven-time world champion Meagan Ethell won Female Rider of the Year. Ethell has previously won six ROTY titles and was also voted Fan Favorite Boat Rider in the reader’s poll.
In the men’s division, top honors went to Italy’s Massi Piffaretti, who made the biggest impact during 2021. Piffaretti teamed up with British video-grapher Dave Av, who won Best Content Creator of the Year, and the winning duo also received the Best Web Video award with the amazing short “Cara Italia.”
The Best Film award went to “The Coalition. The Movie. The Trilogy.” by Space Mob.
The men’s Check Out award winner was 10-year-old Kane Ward, who took the world title earlier in the season, becoming the youngest rider to land a double flip. The Check Out women’s award went to 15-year-old Rivers Hedrick, who rose through the ranks all season and delivered an outstanding performance at Milan’s Red Bull Wake the City contest with teammate Anna Nikstad.
Wakesurfing made its long-awaited debut at the 2021 Wake Awards with five-time world champion Ashley Kidd taking the female division and Noah Flegel taking the men’s. Both athletes also won the Fan Favorite Wakesurfer award in the reader’s poll.
The Full Scope award went to the best all-around rider in all modalities. Young Guenther Oka won the title for the fifth year in a row, attaining legendary status. The Full Scope -women’s award went to Jamie Lopina, who won the Moxie Pro women’s contests in both cable and boat categories this season. She never missed the podium all year long.
Operation Wakesurf won the Pass the Handle award for introducing the most people to the sport, and the Legend award went to wakeskate and foiling pioneer Brian Grubb, who still competes at the pro level.