After spending most of his nearly 24 years of life riding a Liquid Force wakeboard, Phillip Soven, the kid they used to call 'Froggy,' one of the most dominant competitive riders to ever strap on a board and the star of MTV's WakeBrothers, is pointing his career in another direction. Phillip recently announced his move to a new board sponsor, CTRL Board Co.
WakeWorld had the opportunity to talk to Phillip about embarking on this new path and he was incredibly candid and forthcoming.
WW: How long did you ride for Liquid Force?
PS: I first joined the liquid Force team in early 1995, at the age of six after doing a demo at the 1995 Worlds in Orlando. At the time, they didn’t make kids boards yet, so Jimmy [Redmon] would cut off the tip and tails of boards and reglass it, as well as making the binding inserts to fit me.
WW: Why did you leave Liquid Force?
PS: To be completely honest, when it comes down to it really, I just felt that it was time. It was time for a change, a fresh start maybe. All in all it was time for something new and different. I appreciate the time I spent working with them and for what Tony Finn and Jimmy Redmon did for me growing up, but decided it was time to make a change and pursue other opportunities.
This industry is always changing and I want to be on the cutting edge of things. Nothing against LF, but I want to be much more involved. The great thing about a younger brand is they are the ones creating new technologies and top end quality and pushing the boundary of what's commonly accepted as "the correct way of doing things" to get into the mix with the longer standing brands who don't necessarily need to keep pushing forward, but, in a sense, may tend to be more conservative and focus more on just the marketing side of things than the actual board design/innovation process. At the end of the day I was ready to embark on the next chapter in my life and my time with LF had run its course. I always want to be moving forward. Plateauing or settling just is not an option for me.
WW: CTRL is a relatively new company. What is it about them that attracted you?
PS: Well, the fact that it is a new brand was a big factor for me. CTRL, while being a new brand has had huge buzz over the past couple years abroad with a major impact in Europe. It's not really a "start up" brand anymore. These guys know what they are doing and doing it well with an awesome team of experienced and passionate riders, owners, reps and manufacturers.
I wanted to go somewhere with a fresh slate where I could get much more involved and create a mold with the team, rather than just going to a larger established brand and making myself fit into their mold. With CTRL, I can have a hand in building a brand from the ground up. The company is named for the way things are run. It is controlled not by a board of investors, megacorp (or an umbrella company), whose focus is solely to make profits and just pump out products that will sell with marketing being the main concern instead of over the actual product quality and innovation as it is with CTRL.
CTRL truly is rider-owned and rider-run and controlled by guys who are themselves wakeboarders and have worked extensively in the industry for a long time who are passionate about the sport and whose main concern isn't making you "think" this is the best product, but instead actually building it and making sure no detail is overlooked or simply just cut out to lower costs. It's all about the product, innovation and the quality of it. Anything less than top of the line just isn't enough. Those price point "cookie cutter" boards just don't meet our version of "par." CTRL is built to a higher standard. I'm very excited about this move and bringing this company to the masses.
WW: Will you be getting an ownership stake in CTRL?
PS: Well, let's just leave that one to the imagination for time being. Interpret it as you will, as I think it's best for me not to comment too in-depth on it right now, but know that as of now, the focus is not to make a quick buck, but to really make the best product possible and take advantage of the best technology and ideas available to be ahead of the curve.
WW: CTRL is mostly known as a cable board company? Will they be making a more traditional board to suit you or will you be adjusting your game to utilize a cable-inspired board?
PS: For starters, being known as a "primarily cable board" company by no means says it only makes boards specifically for cable. In fact, I have been riding the Supreme and the RX behind the boat and am very happy with the way they ride. The first time I rode the RX, the first thing I said when I got back into the boat is, "Wow, that board pops off the wake more than any other board I’ve ridden." Yes, though, there will be more options in the line focused more directly on the boat riding aspects as well as a wide range of flex to stiff and mixed boards. That being said, there won’t really be anything "traditional" about them.
WW: When can we expect to see a Phillip Soven pro model and what will it be like?
PS: We are in the process of making my pro model board and boots, which we hope to make available for this summer. One of the things I love about working with CTRL is how when it comes to making my pro model, we really are going back and forth making every little change necessary. So, when I tell them, "You know, I really would like to make this more or this less," that's exactly what happens. No detail is overlooked.
With other brands, you're given a hand shaped prototype and told, "Here’s your new pro model. If you want any changes, let us know. Then we'll decide if we want to change that or if we are going to keep it as a selling feature." With CTRL, all designs are made in CAD from day one, so we have the ability to make new prototypes much more accurately and relatively overnight with changes down to the very last millimeter. This is the ideal method to make a pro model truly designed to the specifications and mindset of the pro.
WW: What are your plans for 2013?
PS: For 2013, my main goal is to work as hard as I can to regain my title on tour. I am coming out guns blazing. I am focusing a lot of my efforts to this new brand as well as I have a lot of faith in it. I am going to do everything in my power to be the best brand ambassador I can be, as well as working closely within the company to create cutting-edge products! I will be focusing on doing more video and photo shoots as well as giving people a look into my more diverse side of riding, which hasn't always been a huge focus for me, but I do enjoy doing it. 2013 Is a new year and it's going to be a great one.
WW: Is there any other sponsor news for 2013 you'd like to share with us?
PS: Well, as I'm sure many of the people reading this already know, Malibu has released a 24-foot version of the MXZ, which is a great addition to the line. Arma Energy will be releasing products around the country soon, which has been much anticipated. Verizon Wireless will once again be a sponsor of the Wake Open, which I'm very happy about seeing them getting heavily involved in supporting our sport as they have been a great company to work with. Sanuk continues to make great new kicks. CTi is at the top of the game in their field, as always. As for other deals and sponsors you'll just have to wait and see what happens!
Thank you WakeWorld for giving me this interview and letting me give you all a small peep into what the future holds! It's going to be a good one. Wakeboarding is not just an activity for me; it’s my livelihood and the thing that has structured my life. I could not be more grateful and it wouldn't be possible without all of you out there supporting the sport and us as riders. Also...don't believe everything you see on tv (no comment beyond that)!
Phillip Soven is sponsored by Malibu Boats, Performance, Ctrl Board Co.,
Sanuk, Arma Energy, Verizon, CTI, Toyota and Ethika.