Local wake boarder makes some big waves

Local+wake+boarder+makes+some+big+waves

At the age of 18, professional female wakeboarder Raimi Merritt has already proven herself a force to be reckoned with after having won the IWWF Wakeboard World Cup six consecutive times, the most recent being in Australia in March.

“I grew up around water skiing,” said Merritt whose father, Steve Merritt is former World Champion barefoot water skier. “He introduced me to waterboarding when I was about 9, and I’ve done it ever since. I guess you could say it runs in my blood.”

Raimi had only been training for about two years before she began taking part in competitions, which obviously paid off given the fact that she won her very first one. “It was the nationals,” said Merritt. “I won that, and my older sister got second place.”

Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida Merritt moved up to Orlando about five years ago with her oldest sister to dedicate herself to her training. Her parents have since moved to Orlando as well.

“I try to get out on the water at least twice a day,” said Merritt of her practice schedule. She works out in a gym almost daily before heading to the trampolines. “One of my coaches was a professional wakeboarder as well, and is now part of Cirque de Soleil. He helps me practice my tricks on a trampoline so that I don’t take as many falls when I go into the water.”

This method seems to be paying off given that Raimi was the first female wakeboarder to land an S-Bend trick on the water. “That’s where you do a raley and then a 360 in the air before landing on the water,” said Merritt. “But my favorite trick is a Toe Side 360, which is where you cut into the wake on your toe side and then do a 360 before landing.”

Practicing on the lake behind her home is much easier to do now that boat sponsor, Nautique, has provided her with a brand new boat. “Now I’m able to go out and practice behind my boat a few times a day with my family,” said Merritt, who took the extra time to show us her board, provided to her by wakeboard sponsor, Hyperlite Wakeboards.

She is also sponsored by MonaVie, a sports energy drink company.

As far as other water sports go, Merrit only wants to compete as a wakeboarder, but she doesn’t mind trying something new. “I do try other waters sports – like surfing and barefooting. Kiteboarding is another one I’d like try. That’s definitely on my list of things to do as well,” said Merritt.

All of Raimi’s hard work and talent seems to truly be paying off, as she has just won first place in the women’s heat number one at the Pro Wakeboard Tour.

To keep up to date on all Raimi Merritt news and accomplishments, follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook.