Words & Photos: Jeff Mathis
Florida is known for its beautiful waterways. Whether it’s the lakes, rivers, oceans, the Keys, or the natural springs that make up the state, but there is one lake, albeit man-made, that most surfers know and that is the famous “Blue Lake” just north of Tampa. Originally constructed as a limestone quarry, Blue Lake has made a name for itself in the watersports industry as one of those “gotta ride there” spots. Many famous wake videos and product shoots have gone down there so needless to say, we were insanely excited when we got the “ok” to have it to ourselves for the day. Add in our awesome team riders Sean Silveira and Jett Lambert, and you’ve got a recipe for some insane content.
It’s one thing to be able to go out to a spot you’ve only ever seen in photos and videos but Sean had another trick up his sleeve in the form of a helicopter. When I heard that news, I lit up with excitement. Not only because it would be my first time taking photos from a helicopter but also my very first time in one! I knew it was going to be a memorable day.
With the arrangements made and the crew locked in, we woke up bright and early the day of and headed down to the lake. We rolled up just as the sun started to rise and by the time we dropped the boats in, everyone was itching to ride. We started the day doing some chase shooting. I took stills while videographer Rory Kramer captured the clips. The wind was low, the sun was shining, and the water was beautiful so it made for a solid first session. Jett hit the water with his signature tech style and after he went for a run, Sean jumped in and started throwing down. Once we wrapped the chase sesh, we headed back to the dock to start cooking up ideas for the chopper. After we reloaded with some food and got our ideas straight, we headed over to where the helicopter was parked and geared up to take to the skies.
Taking off over Blue Lake was nothing short of incredible. The color of the water already pops but once you get elevated, the color really comes out and makes the photos that much better. The helicopter put Sean and Jett’s abilities to the test because if we got too close, the wind from the blades would blow their boards all over the place. So we had to be strategic with where we flew and how close we got. After a little trial and error, we had the angles locked in. Both Sean and Jett did their thing and we had stacked plenty of shots in no time at all.
After the chopper ride, it was time to relax and just enjoy the rest of the day. We did so by watching the riders take turns doing whip-in’s into the wave. Between linking up plenty of tech tricks and slayshes to getting absolutely booted off the wave, it was a lot of fun to watch. Once Sean and Jett were gassed, the other members of the crew jumped in for some shredding. One of those being the one and only Matt Manzari. Matt is a legend in wakeskating and has taken up surfing and foiling these days. He’s always got a good attitude and is an all around solid dude. Next our pilot Austin hopped in and got some one-on-one coaching with Sean. He was sooo close to nailing his first shuv that day. Next time, Austin!
But like all good things, the day had to come to an end. As we loaded up the boats and jet skis, we all looked back on the water one last time before piling in the cars. It was more than epic and we’ll be stoked on it for a while! We have even more content from this shoot dropping soon so keep your eyes peeled!