Surface To Air

Hyperlite pro Gunner Daft joins forces with a new 230 SLX, featuring Dynamic Running Surface, to take carving wake to the cutting edge.

There’s something carefree and easygoing about Gunner’s wakeboarding style, but this 18-year-old is serious about his sport. He’s on premier wakeboard brand Hyperlite’s Legion Team. “Gunner makes wakeboarding look fun,” says Greg Nelson, a rep for the company. “What I like about Gunner is that he is technically correct about his grab on the board. On the highest end of any sport, there is a right way to do stuff, and Gunner does it right. But part of doing it right is bringing your own flavor to it.”

Sea Ray’s 230 SLX is just the tool for a boarder to hone his or her individual style. Its optional Dynamic Running Surface™ technology reimagines the watersports experience by automatically optimizing running attitude and trim for unparalleled stability and performance. Greg says such balance and stability enhancements help to create a better wake, while also aiding the driver in boat control to provide consistency for the guy or gal out there working to defy gravity. “If it’s not consistent, the athlete’s not going to be comfortable,” he adds.

“I could tell when edging out, it didn’t lean,” Gunner confirms while toweling off on the back of the SLX. “This boat is really solid and doesn’t shift around. I love it. It’s awesome.”

The Dynamic Running Surface system improves acceleration while reducing bow rise and keeping the boat at the optimal trim. “It’s safer for everyone involved,” Greg says. “When you’re going from 0 to 18 mph, you want to keep the bow down for the driver and provide a clear line of sight while getting up on plane faster.”

Hyperlite is the longest-standing brand in the sport, which came into prominence in the early 1990s. As a pioneer in the wakeboarding industry, the company has long championed the sport—from its early days, before the existence of the finer things like wakeboard towers and racks on boats, to the present, where boats like the 230 SLX are crafted with athletes and thrill-seekers in mind.

Along with helping to develop the sport in its early days, Hyperlite continues to be a wakeboard innovator. “That all starts with our athletes,” Greg says. “Through their continued input, it allows us to build the best product that we can.” It’s also the same reason Sea Ray likes to invite guys like Gunner and friends to test new models and share their expertise on what it’s like out behind the boat when they’re turning their worlds on a whole different axis. Onboard, Gunner chills out for a bit with two other pro boarders, Jacob Valdez and Massi Piffaretti, the latter of whom is also his roommate. The guys are borrowing the boat from the great folks at MarineMax Daytona, thanks to the help of service team leader Kim Burch, who hooked them up for a day for their early morning practice session.

Gunner grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma, but moved to Orlando a few years ago to really pursue the sport. He learned to wakeboard at his family’s lake cabin when he was just six years old. He credits a friend of his father’s with helping to get him started behind the family boat. Gunner, a natural water lover, took to boarding with ease. He practiced out at the lake whenever possible and learned he had a talent for performing jumps and grabs in his early teens.

The “I-learned-it-at-the-lake” tale is a common one among pro boarders, says Greg, who works with athletes at all levels. “This is a family sport,” he says. “We really embrace that. If you can get your kids away from the phone and away from the video games and get them out into the boat for the afternoon, that’s huge. Our sport wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the families who helped these kids get started. There are so many facets to our sport, and right at the top of the list is family and having uninterrupted time with your kids.”

Family life has always been at the forefront of the Sea Ray lifestyle, as well. The 230 SLX features plenty of space for the whole crew to get onboard for the fun. “It is really roomy,” Gunner says as he stretches out in the bow. Plus, optional wakeboard racks keep gear out of the way for safe maneuvering onboard when not in use. The retractable stainless steel ladder and a very generous swim platform aid wakeboarders and all other watersports enthusiasts for easy gearing or suiting up.

The optional Dyanamic Running Surface technology creates an unparalleled experience for wakeboarding and waterskiing by offering the ability to create preset wake height and shaping. Large triangular planes integrate with the 230 SLX hull to manipulate the water. Gunner says he can feel the difference out behind the boat, and can’t believe the ease with which the boat handles when he finally gets a shot at taking the helm. “It’s just really smooth,” he says.

After soaking up a little more sun, Gunner gears up for another run. He warms up by moving across the wake before performing an effortless “indy late roll to blind.” Up, around and back down with nary a splash. In other words: smooth.”

Check out more from Hyperlite’s pros by visiting the Signature Team gallery.

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