Interview with Vukasin Cupic – 21Rope clothing – where is wakeboard going?

This will be definitively one of the interviews with the longest intro from all. I know about Vule, since I know about wakeboarding. At first he was the loudest man I noticed on the cable speaking bul*hit around, but after a while when I gave myself a chance to listen what he is talking about I heard that he is just loud and not talking just bul*shit around… Of course, we all have our good and bad moves, none is without sin… but with couple of good moves he proved that he deserves to be part of wakeboarding history as well as future…


For all of you who don’t know who is Vule… Here is the short intro about all his hard work to put wakeboarding on his No.1 thing in his and our lives.


He’s triple overall European champion (2005, 2006, 2007), he has two World Gold medal IWWF (2006, 2007), he is World champion 2008 (WWA)… 5 times national champion in Serbia… 2005 on the first time ever organized obstacle session on a tour stop he was 2nd.


When he stopped riding he started with his own brand Rope, to make unbreakable wakeboard for the riders to feel safe coming on their main competition, but also investing a lot of his private money to make 2 famous wakeboard movies E-70 and Hipnose…  Now Rope is sponsoring 25 athletes (8 are international wakeboarders)… With all this results he brought being part of wakeboard scene he has right to speak out loud… So read his interview…


But before we start with it, I have couple of my thoughts to say it out loud… Can I, I think I can… because I tried to make an interview with both federations. I sent mails 3rd of November, last year and never got an answer… Yes, I ask a lot of questions.. one of those were questions about prize money, others about having two World championships… but always when I asked, did you finish it… I got an answer “Sorry, we were too busy”… Doing my full time job, doing BoardForce, doing wakeskating I know what means to be busy, but I just can’t understand that in almost a year people cant find time to answer simple interview…


Or even, when I have a camera men in front of the official at the Worlds in Turkey… I got negative answer for an interview, with a big question mark about “its” head… “I don’t know the questions”…


If you are doing all the best for the sport, why you are afraid of interview, why are you afraid of promotion of the sport in live? Why if you have nothing to hide?


There are lots of people running our sport and I never seen them riding wakeboard, just walking around the lake… even in history, there is no mark about them as being wakeboarders… of course some of them did a lot for the sport, but some of them made some riders to quit competing, to leave their federations… Big top athletes never again showed themselves on the World’s or European’s… hate or injustice? Instead of getting up, it seems sometimes that we are falling down… We have less riders on the official competitions, best competitors joined other associations, no more reviews after big European events in the federation…


And then you are starting to ask yourself a question… What is going on? World Trophy should be ripping event with huge prize money… 100.000 USD if I remember… but none from the riders get a payment… bing bang… IdMa… company who was organizing this big event for couple of years suddenly disappeared from the scene… 100.000 USD vanished… erased… where is it, you ask, none knows… You ask the riders… every rider is mad and furious but none wants to speak out loud… just says to me “Yes I didn’t get the money, donno if I will ever see it, but please keep this confidential, don’t mention my name”… and yes I won’t mention names of those riders, but from the other side I don’t understand why none speak it out loud. Why everybody hide it, why everybody are afraid, of what, not getting money which is also a question will they ever get this money… Company went bankrupt! Other association… great, big prize money… but did you ask how long they have to get the money from the competition, how many months pass… where is this money in a meantime?

And, hey, wakeboarding is fun and sport, but some people dedicated their lives to this sport, they dedicated their body for this sport… and results are injuries too… do you know how long you have to wait in some countries to get surgery? 2-3 years… I waited so long, so I know. But for professional athletes 2-3 months mean a lot… and some of them are still waiting this prize money to pay for their rehab. Very few riders are able to get salary from their sponsors… At least not in cable scene, so prize money means a lot for all competitors.


Couple of years ago you had not so many competitions, but you knew when you come to ECWT, Worlds or Europeans that you will see all the best European and World riders… Remember of Worlds in 2006, Feldkirchen, Austria…then remember the Worlds 2010… and then you come to other comps in States… and you get American style… having just few European riders who can afford to come…


Seems like we got quantity but lost quality…


I just hope for the future, that riders will be able to get their prize money on time, that we will get more promotion of the sport in the magazines and TV, not loosing Pro Women category because it’s not fun (it was more than fun at Protest Cable Call this year… Denise de Haan doing 8 inverts in her run), not having just 2.5 journalists at the events…(honorable exceptions!)… that we will have more live streams… more big events like Protest Cable Call or Telekom Extreme Playgrounds in this year… Having more big wakeboarding names getting involved into federations and associations… being part of the big events as Bernhard Hinterberger is wakeboard promoter for Telekom Extreme Playgrounds, or like Daniel Fetz being part of H2O Wakeparade (btw. I got so good feedback from riders who were participating this event) or Sjors van de Kerkhof for Telekom Extreme Playgrounds..


Ask your question, what we all can do about progress of our sport… getting into Olympics, gossip or we really have chance to join… If so, lead us what we can do… Big prize money which is announced, never paid out… Pro women category turned into amateur after only 3 years of existing… Forced media partners who gravitate only on one side… You scratch my back, I scratch yours… What’s next? Getting into the ice age or we gonna evaluate once and for all time?

Hey Vule, whatsupp? How are you doing?

I’m working a lot, training… But not wake as they don’t allowed me… L

I haven’t seen you on last competitions, did you quit riding, start surfing or only stop competing?

I’m surfing a lot J as nobody owns waves, so its literary free ride! I’m not competing anymore although I miss competitions… I miss adrenalin, fear, people, friends, and most of all trainings. During training days before competition all you can see is great wakeboarding, as everyone gives their best to kill the pressure, and you can see best rides, styles, tricks… Best days really!

So, why don’t you start again?

I found out few weeks ago that IWWF prohibited me to compete, although I didn’t receive officially any notice from them so far… But I heard that at Court from local Federation as I’m suing them. My attorneys are waiting for replay from IWWF because I want to check first is that really true or just one more setup from local Federation. I would like to compete again but they are not allowing me to ride at local Cable. That is also one more reason for my legal action, beside misappropriation of money.

Being World champion made you very known person so boards you have developing „Rope“ lots of people wanna ride now? How did you came up to this idea?

Rope wakeboards are definitely products of love. Kind of love child of us all and wakeboarding – Emil, Miho, Robi, Sima and me. We all lived wakeboarding for several years, competing, training, traveling together, and now as we are getting older this is our way to improve sport. We want to help young riders, make movies, and move the borders in every way.

Why do you think that is so special board?

As I already said – its board made from love of wakeboarding!

Who are Rope team riders?

At the moment Robert Pokovec, Lovro Klepac, Efi Levi, Yong Il Kim, Emil Tzolov, Marius Klauenberg, Andreas Skjødt Kjaergaard and Daniel Ratkovic. Also we have local team riders from all countries where we have distributors. But we are also planning more surprises!

Except wakeboards you have some new products, skate, snowboard and women clothing from this season? Is there more plans for developing?

Kite, definitely for next season and lot of standard stuff but updated J

What about cable, did you ever thing about having your own spot called Rope wakeboard cable? If so, where it would be and how it would look like, your dream cable?

Yes! In Wonderland! The story about my cable is old one, everyone knows that already… That wouldn’t be public cable but Proride Heaven J, lake with 21 obstacles, and island for parties in the middle. But! There is one big but! There is island bridge 80 meters from operator, and you should use kicker, a-frame or something big in front of it like pop to over jump it, so you have to ride really good to pass and go on. And you have to ride wake ONLY!

Being for a long time in a scene you have your eyes also on your back what do you think about having two federations and two world championships?

There is no problem with Federations, there is just problem with people leading it. IWWF is managed by cable owners and not ex-riders like in all other sports. I don’t think that’s good, because their connection with wakeboarding is business. They can’t improve sport because that improvement often goes against their personal interest and that interest is profit not sport. Just look at so called Euro-stops and you will see what their idea of wakeboarding is… They are organizing some judge clinics for huge money without paying prices for last years competitions… Some judges with international license are 19 years old, and that is definitely wrong. You need years of experience, national and regional competitions… All that is not just sad but shameful. And every time when someone starts to ask the right questions they start to speak about Olympic Games trying to hide themselves behind Olympic spirit, but not having it at all… And about WWA, we all can thank them for higher price money at IWWF competitions. As we all know what their idea of prices was – big words and Olympic sprit for riders, profit for cable owners. People from WWA are aware that young riders who are competing and dedicating their youth to wakeboarding have to earn something for living, therapies, and unfortunately even operations very often… They have to live from something, not just for something! There is just one problem with WWA – they are acting sometimes like wakeboarding is all American… Yes, they invented it – thank you very much J – but it belongs to all of us now.

Do you think that sport grew up since WWA get into European scene?

Of course, especially regarding obstacles. Before WWA standards obstacle tricks were at amateur level on European competitions.

What do you think about having so many competitions around the world. This make’s it quite heavy for riders to be everywhere…?

International competitions are not for everyone – just for best or pro riders. And I don’t see that as a problem. The problem is that lot of IWWF so called international competitions are actual local events with few guests from abroad. And that should be said. Just look with your eyes open this ridiculous Euro tour! But you can get more money from sponsors if you called something international even if that is not true. At the end it’s all about money… So when you check event calendar on the paper everything is full of major competitions and in reality it isn’t more then six or seven pro year – and that’s ok.

Olympic games, is it possible and if this dream come true how do you think that will affect to the waeboard, there are always double thoughts?

I don’t have doubts – it would be great. But that’s not real. In last years we are witnessing reduces made by Olympic Committee and not widening. I would be very happy to see wakeboarders on Olympic podium but as I already said I’m afraid that behind these stories is something else.

Being quite experienced rider what do you like better, two runs count, best run count or just one run and you can fall once?

New IWWF rules are definitely downgrading sport. You can compete with six or seven tricks. At first glance that is better for less experienced riders but in general these rules are downgrading wakeboarding. For really good rider seven tricks are not enough, he can’t show all he know and in the same time he can win competition easily, so there is no need to push the limit when average is enough. More severe rules are forcing riders to be better, to show more and to improve sport in general. It is absurd to see complete run with three water tricks like it was at Belgrade competition… It seems like they are simplifying wakeboarding so much that it’ll be boring even for us. At the other hand, WWA rules are forcing obstacles, you have to do at least 13 to 14 tricks for good result, to show that you can ride all elements good.

What would be the things you would like to change?

I would like to see more wakeboarders in IWWF, as it is in WWA. Secretary General can be somebody from business but president has to come from sport. It would be great to see Bernhard Hinterberger for example or other ex-riders at highest positions as they ARE wakeboarding. Look at Mr. Hans Otte – he was sportsman, he is giving his best to protect and improve sport and help young competitors. He should be the role model to others. what do you think abou it?

You are doing really great! Congrats! But you should speak loud and clear about problems we all have as well. That is the only way to improve our sport and that only matter.

Written by Nelly Mance, copyright

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