Rider Highlight: David & Vanessa Williams

This power couple from Tampa, FL are two of our newest additions to the Phase 5 team. David and Vanessa Williams have been in the surf scene for quite some time. They run the Tampa Wakesurf Academy so they’re always out on the water teaching/coaching or riding themselves! David is definitely known for his longboard skills while Vanessa prefers a more standard board. We caught up with them to see what Phase 5 means to them and what they have planned for the 2024 season. Check it out below!

PHASE 5: Tell us about the Tampa Wakesurf Academy. How long have you been doing it? When did you start it? You know, that sort of thing.
David: I started doing lessons in 2020 because of COVID. It’s been really rewarding working with riders in the area and getting them stoked on riding. Once I started doing more contests, I started working with more riders that had a little more experience so I could help shape them for stepping up into the next division for contests and stuff like that. I don’t run it 24/7 or anything but the time I do spend out there is great.

PHASE 5: How long have you been wakesurfing? Did you start as an ocean surfer or just straight to the wake?
Vanessa: I’ve been riding for 3.5-4 years. I started out skimboarding and ocean surfing and it just turned into riding behind the boat!

PHASE 5: How did you get your start wakesurfing? Have you always been drawn to longboards or is that more of a recent thing?
David: I started wakesurfing in 2018. I had been skimboarding and surfing for a while before that but I was at Lake Carroll in Tampa one day when Sam Langley pulled up out of nowhere and took me out behind the boat. I had no idea people rode behind the boat like that but after one set, I was instantly hooked! And as for the longboard, growing up surfing in the gulf, I was usually riding a longboard so it just made sense when I started riding behind the boat!

PHASE 5: How do you feel about longboard riding? What’s your favorite Phase 5 board and why?
I feel like longboard riding can be really innovative if you can figure it out. It’s so different from regular surfing, whether that’s surf or skim. I’m on the Phantom at the moment and I love it. It’s such a fast, poppy, and stable board but I really love how it rides when you’re in revert.

PHASE 5: What are some of your favorite tricks to do on the longboard?
David: My favorite part is honestly riding doubles with my kids but actual tricks, I really love riding in the tube, hanging 5, hanging 10, and shoving that big board around!

PHASE 5: What are some of your plans for the 2024 season?
Vanessa: For 2024, I want to train and really hone in my skills so I can hit the ground running when the contests start going off. My main goal is to podium at Masters this year and keep my winning streak alive! Last year I was undefeated in WWA contests on surf and skim in my division so I want to keep that going.

PHASE 5: Anyone who has been around you knows how stoked you are about the sport. What is it about wakesurfing that gets you so hyped?!
David: I love surfing. It’s such a great sport because you can do it with your friends and family. You get lost in the moment when you’re out there and the whole world shuts off around you. You’re not worried about emails or bills or whatever. It’s just you and the wave.

PHASE 5: What are some of your favorite memories of wakesurfing?
Vanessa: I really love riding with my daughters and working on their surfing skills. It’s so much fun being out on the water with them as a family. Also in 2022 at Nationals, I won my division (Masters Women), Dave won his (Veteran Men’s), and our daughter Lily won hers (Girls 13 & Under) so to be able to share podiums with them will always be one of my favorite memories!

1 Response



March 22, 2024

So proud of all if you! My awesome family!!

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