If you take a gander at the many pro rider rankings from 2012, you'll notice that there is only one rider that appears in the top 15 of the King of Wake standings, Pro Wakeboard Tour standings, WWA World Series standings and WWA Wake Park World Series standings...Austin Hair.
That statistic probably surprises you. However, Austin has long been one of the most underrated riders in the world, but, obviously, one of the most consitent wake competitors in the business. Austin is able to keep up with the competition despite earning a degree, traveling the world like a madman and getting involved in all sorts of projects outside of wakeboarding, including his fine work for providing content for WakeWorld.
He's only 25, so continue to keep your eye on this hard-working lad from Orlando as he brings his competitive spirit into 2013. We were able to spend some time with Austin and find out what makes him tick.
WW: Who is Austin Hair?
AH: I'm just regular college grad who likes to wakeboard a lot more than most people.
WW: What kind of a name is Hair? Scotch-Romanian?
AH: Actually, scholars determined the meaning of the word was lost long ago. It's really anybody's guess.
WW: How long have you been wakeboarding?
AH: 12 years.
WW: Did you grow up around watersports or did you have to find wakeboarding?
AH: My mom had a waterski background, so that put us on the lake. Then I met some guys called the South Town Riders who introduced me to wakeboarding. We're still friends to this day.
WW: When did you know you wanted to take wakeboarding as far as you could?
AH: Probably a week after I got up for the first time.
WW: Have you ever ridden a kneeboard (I won’t tell anyone)?
AH: Well, I don't wanna talk it up, but I can do flips on a kneeboard like nobody's business.
WW: You’re sponsored by a company based in The Netherlands (Jobe). How did that happen?
AH: Actually, I got an email from them in 2011 saying they were looking to break into the US market. I said I could definitely help them do that. We've had a great partnership ever since.
WW: Is it expensive to get to the company Christmas party?
AH: It's more than I would spend on a gift.
WW: Tell us about your setup; board, bindings, boat, etc.
AH: I just got the new Supra SA 450 and the boat is insane. Supra has done a complete reshape of their image, and the wake is massive. Plus, there's so much more room to hang out inside the boat.
I just developed a new shape for the Jobe Austin Series. I ride boat and cable a lot, so I wanted a board that was good for both. It gets great pop off the wake and it’s got molded fins and a flexy tip and tail, which makes it great on rails.
WW: How is it being on the same team as Julian Cohen?
AH: Julian and I have a lot of fun together. We were already good friends before, so now that we're on the same team, we get to work together and let our ideas unfold.
WW: What’s on the radar for 2013?
AH: This year I'm going to be focusing on the WWA tournaments, as well as releasing videos periodically. I want to keep pushing my riding and making cool edits more this year than in the past. This involves making new rails, which I've already done in this new vid [see below].
WW: What do you like most about being a pro wakeboarder?
AH: I love getting to travel around the world to exotic locations and meeting awesome people.
WW: What do you hate most about being a pro wakeboarder?
AH: Sunrise photo shoots!
WW: If you could be a pro in another sport, what would it be and why?
AH: Surfing - you still get to wear boardshorts all day and travel to exotic countries. Plus, the feeling of getting barreled is unparalleled.
WW: If you had to dump your style of riding and take somebody else’s, whose would you take?
AH: I think Turtle's style is pretty on point.
WW: Double inverts seem to be all the rage these days. What’s that all about?
AH: I think double flips were never that cool before because no one was grabbing them. Then they went so far out of mainstream course that when people started grabbing them they became cool again. On top of that, you see snowboarders go double-corked all the time. If it’s survived the test of time in snowboarding, I think it'll last in wake too.
WW: Will there be a triple landed any time soon? If so, will it be behind a boat or on the cable?
AH: It would definitely be a triple cab roll off of a kicker and System 2.0, but I'm gonna say we'll need to build a bigger kicker first.
WW: You seem to travel more than just about any other rider out there. How do you pull that off?
AH: Well, it was a lot harder to do that while I was in school, but now that I'm graduated it’s a little bit easier. I've been lucky enough to be able to experience both the boat and cable scene and do both sets of contests. That definitely keeps me pretty busy, but it’s cool to be a part of two pretty different scenes.
WW: Are there any riders that work harder than you? If so, name them.
AH: You know, there's a lot of hard-working guys out there. Zane Schwenk is definitely one of them. I heard Rattray works pretty hard for his sponsors too, and I know Rusty puts in more hours behind the boat than just about anyone.
WW: If you had to choose one for the rest of your life, would it be boat or cable?
AH: If I had to choose one I'd definitely choose boat, but I'd sure miss the cable.
WW: What are your retirement plans?
AH: Which one? Haha. I've started a web design company called Vision. We design websites as well as provide a way for companies to transfer their physical businesses to start selling online. We also print vinyl stickers and logos using the Japanese 5s organization system, which helps the company organize their work flow. This goes hand in hand with companies integrating online facets of their business. On top of that I've been investing in real estate for the past couple years and that's been panning out really well. I'll continue to expand that.
WW: Married or single?
AH: Even though I'm a veteran on the tour, I'm still 25 years young. Single.
WW: What’s it like trying to hold together a relationship with such a crazy job?
AH: It's not easy, but where there's a will there's a way. When you find the right person, you make time for them.
WW: When you’re home, where do you ride and who do you ride with?
AH: I ride at OWC a lot, or on Clear Lake. Right now I don't have one specific person I ride with.
WW: Who has had the most impact on your riding throughout your career?
AH: Everyone brings something different - Randall Harris goes really big, Parks and Danny have been super innovative. I think you can find inspiration from just about any pro if you focus on the positive.
WW: Did you think the world was going to end last December?
AH: Yeah, it was a bitter sweet feeling of relief.
WW: Any shout-outs?
AH: Jobe, Supra, Smith Optics, Cape Fear, Zinka, Living Fuel, C4 Belts, Vita Coco and Diamond Wear.