There are a few ways to jump-start your career in wakeboarding — some are more glamorous than others. Moving to The Projects outside Orlando is anything but. First off, it’s in Bithlo, Florida. Anyone who has experienced this jewel of a town will quickly realize that it’s no jewel at all. Secondly, fire ants. The genetically advanced “super ants” as I like to call them are probably more ferocious at The Projects than in whatever country they originally came from. Last but not least: cabin fever. The utter lack of human-to-human contact for days on end is enough to turn even the sanest among us into Jack Nicholson in The Shining. While it’s not the Ritz Carlton, The Projects has many positives. Chief among them, it gives its residents all the time in the world to hone their craft, which has led to long-term pro careers for a ton of riders.
Matt Raulerson has endured all those things and more over the past year and a half to make himself a better rider. Mow the lawn, go ride. Feed the emu, go ride. Get Pat Panakos a Coke from the Circle K, go ride. This has been Matt’s schedule for quite a while now and it’s paying off. Take one look at him hitting rails and it’s clear that he’s yet another chapter in the saga of highly talented Projects riders. Matt has super-good style and a really creative way of looking at things. Part of a new school of rail riders, Matt realizes that the days of making your mark with boardslides and lipslides are gone. He’s constantly pressing and overturning, tapping out of stuff, and making everything look legit. Plus, he keeps coming out with new rail concepts and different ways to hit things. But remember: Matt is a lone wolf out at The Projects, so if you’re ever headed that way, be sure to bring him a magazine and some Pop Tarts. Maybe a little friendly conversation too, just to make him feel like he’s still part of society. — Shawn Perry
Sponsors: CWB, The Projects, Zinka, Marine Products, The Wake Park Project