Phase 5 2023 ROTY: Whitley Stewart

The Phase 5 Rider of the Year honors go to a rider who proved themselves in every aspect of the sport. Great contest results, a solid presence online, coming out to photoshoots, and an all-around stoke for riding are all taken into consideration when choosing a winner. The 2023 ROTY was someone who not only embodied all of that, she took it all to the next level. She took top honors at every contest she entered except one that she placed second, was constantly turning heads with her riding, and always had the best attitude when out at events, photoshoots, or just chilling on the boat. For those reasons, we chose our 2023 P5 ROTY to be Whitley Stewart! Whitley has been on the team since 2018 and every year, she just gets better and better. Whitley just began college at the University of Georgia this past year but it definitely hasn’t interfered with her riding. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2024 brings for Whitley. We chatted with her about taking the ROTY crown, what that means to her, and where she sees this year heading. Check it out below!

PHASE 5: Congrats on such an awesome 2023 season and being named the Phase 5 Rider of the Year! How does it feel?
Whitley: Thank you! It’s such an honor. I feel so blessed to be named the P5 Rider of the Year. Phase Five has been with me since I first started wake surfing. The first board I ever rode was the Phase 5 Scamp…ever since then, P5 had been a dream sponsor of mine. In 2018, my dream came true and I was officially part of the team. They have been with me ever since and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without this amazing team!

PHASE 5: What were some of your favorite moments from 2023?
Whitley: 2023 was one of the best years that I’ve ever had. I had so many amazing memories from it. I was able to live in Florida until May and then came back home to Georgia for the summer. I was accepted to the University of Georgia, so I moved to Athens in August. On top of all of that, I had a great season filled with a lot of training. My favorite moment was probably winning the World Championship again. I had worked really hard last season, and it was so rewarding to feel like my hard work paid off. Game days in Athens are definitely up there too though!

PHASE 5: What are you looking forward to in 2024?
Whitley: I have a lot of goals for the 2024 season. I am wanting to do more international competitions this season and am looking forward to traveling to new countries. I am looking forward to warm weather soon and being able to have some fun boat days with my friends.

PHASE 5: You almost missed the Regatta altogether! What else did you have going on that weekend?
Whitley: Yes! I definitely came in a little late. I had a daddy/daughter date night with Phi Mu, the sorority that I am in at the University of Georgia. We had such a great night with my friends and their dads. The 4 am wake up call came very early though Saturday morning!

PHASE 5: How has the offseason been treating you? What have you been doing to stay sharp for 2024?
Whitley: The offseason has been a true offseason for me, unlike past years. Usually, I am training throughout the winter, but I decided after Worlds, that I wanted to give myself a real break for a few months and not pick up my board. I have surfed only a handful of times since September, but it was much needed. I am now itching to get back on the water and train. It has made me look forward to this season way more than in years past. I have been off water training during the winter. I do a mix of strength training and pilates to keep my body in shape and ready to get back on the water soon.

PHASE 5: Is there anything you would have changed about 2023? If so, what is it and why?
Whitley: 2023 was such a fun year! If I had to choose one thing that I would’ve changed, it probably would be to just stress less about what the future holds. I get so nervous before competitions, so one thing that I will be doing this year is worrying less and enjoying the moment that I am in.

PHASE 5: Congrats again on such an awesome 2023! We’re looking forward to seeing what you do this year. Is there anyone you’d like to shout out or thank?
Whitley: Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to seeing what this year has in store. I always want to thank my parents for all that they have done and continue to do for me! I also want to give a big shout out to Mr. Danny B who gave me my first lesson and got me started in this amazing sport. Lastly, I want to shout out all of my amazing sponsors… Phase Five, Centurion Boats, and the Boat Shop at Lake Lanier.

Contest Results for 2023:

World Championship - 1st Place
Nationals - 1st Place
Masters  - 1st Place
Appalachian Open  - 1st Place
Wild West Shootout  - 1st Place
West Coast Open  - 2nd Place
Mid-Atlantic Open - 1st Place

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