Drew Danielo inducted into Wakesports Hall of Fame
Drew Danielo – skateboarder, skimboarder, wakeskater, wake surfer, father, innovator. If you’ve never heard his name before then you’ve been living under a rock because wake surfing owes a lot to Mr. Danielo. From creating tricks to winning contests to influencing countless riders over the years, Drew has done it all in the sport of wake surfing.
Starting his career in watersports as a professional skimboarder for ZAP, Drew had already made a good name for himself in the skim world by the time wake surfing began to blossom. Having been introduced to wake surfing by Bob Smetts, founder of ZAP and Phase 5, Drew took to it about as naturally as you’d expect. The ability to do all the tricks was there, all Drew needed was to figure out the nuances of the boat wave compared to an ocean wave. Luckily for Drew, it was a fairly easy learning curve and after getting to spend the day behind the boat in the late early 2000’s learning with Cobe Mikacich and Keith Lyman, two legends of wakeboarding, he was dialed in and throwing tricks just like he was in the ocean.
As wake surfing grew in popularity, Drew found himself spending less time at the beach and more time behind the boat. And once competitions started to pop up, that’s when Drew’s talent began to shine through. Fast forward to the World Wakesurf Championships in Merced, CA in ‘03, Drew was ready to make his mark at his first competition. Just sneaking into the finals as the last qualifying position, Drew wasn’t very hopeful of making it onto the podium. That is, until he hit the water. He recalls something just “clicking” during his run and surfing feeling as natural as skimboarding. By the end of his run, he was World Champion. He went on to win Worlds again in ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘11, and ‘13. Not to mention his National titles and more. Drew not only was constantly pushing himself and innovating during his free-riding, but was a force to be reckoned with in the competitive scene. Honestly, if we were to write out all of his contest wins, it would go on for days.
Even with all of his accomplishments in contests, what really sets Drew apart is his love for the sport, being on the water, and his drive to share his passion with as many people as he can. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Drew in person, you know this to be true. With a career spanning 20+ years, he’s still just as stoked as ever. Whether it’s during a team shoot, at a boat show, a clinic, or anywhere else, Drew continues to be one of the best ambassadors for wake surfing out there. With all that said, we here at Phase 5 would like to congratulate Drew Danielo on his well deserved induction into the Wakesports Hall of Fame!
P5 - Drew, congratulations on being inducted into the Wakesports Hall of Fame for 2022! How stoked are you and what does it mean to you?
Drew – It took a little while to sink in. I was excited but the more I talked to people about it, the more I realized how big of a deal it really is. To have my name included with guys like Shaun Murray, Scott Byerly, Cobe Mikacich, Parks Bonifay and so many others is a real honor. Also, I’m super stoked to be inducted with Shawn Watson. I have always looked up to Shawn’s smooth riding style.
P5 - Now that you’ve retired from the contest scene, what have you been up to?
Drew – Working full time with Phase 5 keeps me plugged in which I really enjoy. Also, I spend a lot of time at the baseball fields watching my son play. And most recently playing golf with my wife Nicole and enjoying the struggles of trying to get better at golf.
P5 - How often do you still get out on the water?
Drew – Not as much as I would like to, that’s for sure. Last year, I only got to ride a couple of times. Luckily, it only takes a quick warm up to get comfortable again. Hopefully this year I will see more lake time.
P5 - Does your son share your love of watersports?
Drew – My son enjoys being on the boat and loves wake surfing when the weather and water are warm. But he could kind of take it or leave it. He has found his passion at the baseball field and it has been a really fun journey watching him compete and strive to be his best.
P5 - If you never took up skimboarding or wakesurfing, where do you think you would be today?
Drew – Wow, this is tough to answer. Probably working your standard 9 to 5 job somewhere and cruising the skatepark in my off time. Skateboarding has been my real love since about 2nd grade. After chasing it for so many years, I have come to the reality that concrete hurts and I can’t afford broken bones so I don’t get on it as much. But, I still enjoy a good mini ramp session!
P5 - What advice do you have to give to the groms who are coming up in the sport?
Drew – This answer never changes for me. Chase your dreams, enjoy wakesurfing and competing. But remember the reason you started, because it was fun and you enjoyed it. Never lose sight of that.
P5 - Who helped you along the way and who would you like to send a shout-out to?
Drew – I want to give a big thank you to my wife and son who allowed me all the time away to travel and chase this journey. Also to Bob Smetts who has believed in me for a long time and gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream and to be a part of such great companies with Phase 5 and Zap Skimboards. Not to mention every company who took a chance on me: Phase 5, Centurion Boats, Boardco.com, Nautique Boats, Omen wakeskates, Roswell and everyone else I may have missed. Thank you!
Photos: Jeff Mathis