He's one of the hardest working riders in wakeboarding and now he's the guy Jobe has chosen to lead their team into 2012 and beyond with his very first pro model wakeboard series. At one time Austin Hair was a double threat in both wakeboarding and wakeskating, even capturing a wakeskating world title, but he's since turned his focus to strapped-in riding and it seems to be paying off for him both competitively and elsewhere. Find out more about one of the best riders to fly under the radar...
WW: Where are you from originally and how did you end up in Florida?
AH: From Tega Cay, South Carolina. Ended up following wakeboarding all the way down to Orlando, Florida.
WW: How long have you been wakeboarding?
AH: A decade.
WW: You’ve been around the competitive wakeboarding scene for quite a while. Can you take us through your wakeboarding career?
AH: I first started out doing the INT events. I think I did my first contest like a month after I learned how to wakeboard. It was super cool having something to gauge my riding off of, both from a personal view point and a view point of other kids in the area. Then I tried out for the Jr. Men tour when I was 16, but didn't make the cut of the top 20. The next year I did a lot better, making a few podiums and finishing third overall. I was still wakeskating a lot back then. I think that's the year I won Worlds, but that was pretty far back. Then I started doing the Pro Tour and improving a little every year until I finished 4th in 2010. That was my best season so far.
WW: Who did you compete against when you were a Jr. Men rider?
AH: So many of them have gone sadly, but the ones who are still riding are Rathy, Errington, LaRiche, Nick Jones and Reed Hansen (haha).
WW: Who finished first and second overall? What big names finished below you?
AH: I think Philip Combs got 1st, Reed Hansen 2nd, Myself 3rd and Errington, LaRiche, Rathy and Robbie Carter were just below that.
WW: I see you riding a new board with your name splashed all over it. How did that come about?
AH: During the winter time last year I was contacted by Jobe saying they were interested in sponsoring me as their main boat rider. I knew the company had been around forever and made great decks when they were Jstars, so it was really a no brainer to switch over. The fact that I would get to design my very own board also made it extremely compelling.
WW: Tell us about the board design.
AH: The board is a great all-around board. I used to have to have a boat board, a rail board and cable board. Now I just take this wherever I go. It's got molded-in fins, which are great for hitting rails because they don't break off. If all you do is ride rails, obviously you want no fins, but as far as doing air tricks and hitting kickers, it’s awesome. It’s got just a little bit of flex in the tail and nose. And it’s got great pop off the wake. Everyone I've let try it out says that's the first thing they notice.
WW: You’ve been a top 15 rider in the King of Wake standings for the past four years, top ten in the last two years. Why did it take so long for a company to take you seriously enough to give you your own pro model?
AH: That was a question I wondered to myself a lot. Sometimes it was discouraging to feel under-appreciated, but I just had faith and perseverance. I think that's what Jobe liked, the dedication to the sport.
WW: What do you do in the off-season to keep your skills sharp?
AH: Right now I'm doing cable, just not every day. I started doing Crossfit a few months ago and it's been awesome. I've actually cut weight, which I've wanted to do for a while, but kept strength. No, I'm not trying to sell Crossfit, my website already does that…only joking.
WW: Are you working on anything special for the 2012 season?
AH: I've had some meetings with some people from NASCAR recently, but I don't want to count my chickens and say too much.
WW: How do you work on progression? Tramp training? Visualization? Do you just go for stuff?
AH: Everything really. I think visualization is most important. Trampoline training helps you do that. And then there's a point where you just go for it.
WW: Which tricks have the worst crashes?
AH: I'd say Pete Rose, late roll to blinds, sometimes back 7's and almost every double tantrum.
WW: What is the best way to recover from hard falls?
AH: Just rest and don't dwell on it. Also, making a vegetable and fruit juice is the best way to shoot nutrients into your body.
WW: You’ve managed to stay relatively injury free throughout your career. What is your worst injury and what’s your secret for staying healthy?
AH: I tore my meniscus a few times, one of which cost me about four months my second year riding Jr Men. In January I herniated two discs in my back in the Philippines. But I have been lucky in the sense of no ACL injuries or anything else too major. I think a big part of it is a healthy diet, just injecting your body with nature's natural vitamins found in vegetables and fruits. I also try and work out about three times a week, and I make sure I stretch well afterwards. I think all these things help out a ton.
WW: What new tricks are you working on at the moment?
AH: I was recently trying double tantrums off the double up, 1080's at the cable and landed a few mute double cab rolls.
WW: Are you doing double tantrums?
AH: Got close, but haven't landed any.
WW: What riders that I haven’t heard of will make a mark on wakeboarding next year?
AH: I think we've all heard about the ones who will probably make a mark; Daniel Grant, Michael Dowdy, Shota Tezuka…those kids are ripping super hard.
WW: What are your goals for 2012?
AH: I've got a few tricks I want to learn, but mostly taking the tricks I can already do, like 9's and back 7's, and putting them in my run. Aside from that, I don't want to focus on only contest. Chris Garrison and I have been shooting a lot of stills, trying to push the sport in that direction. So I'll be focused on getting new shots and building some new stuff.
WW: What’s your proudest moment in your wakeboarding career?
AH: Probably making my first final at the tour stop in Acworth last year. I had waited so long for it and I'll never forget the feeling of satisfaction I got from it.
WW: What’s your boat setup like? How much weight do you run?
AH: I'll be getting a Supra 24 Launch in January. That boat you don't actually need all that much weight to get the wake really good because the hull is so deep.
WW: What do you think makes a trick look good?
AH: I think being in control of the trick. Not doing it just for the sake doing it or grabbing for the sake of grabbing, but being in control from the time you take off and then landing super clean is important.
WW: What’s the coolest part about being a pro wakeboarder?
AH: Traveling the world with airline status and getting upgraded to first class everywhere you go.
WW: What’s the worst?
AH: Explaining to people that yes, wakeboarding is actually a professional sport.
WW: Do you ever see yourself competing in cable comps?
AH: Yeah, I actually did a couple this year. I got fifth at the WWA stop in Tampa. I'm left foot forward, so clockwise cables are way easier for me.
WW: Who do you usually ride with?
AH: Recently Julian Cohen, the Warhol brothers and I’ve been shooting a little bit with Chad Sharpe.
WW: Who are your favorite riders to watch and why?
AH: Harley does the gnarliest tricks, Shota gets the most pop wake to wake, Phil and Nick Davies make everything look the easiest. There's a lot of different aspects everyone brings.
WW: What do you see yourself doing after you’re no longer wakeboarding for a living?
AH: Probably playing the lottery a lot and going to Vegas…only joking. Just bought a house and it’s a really tough market to make any money in right now, but we'll see how things pan out over the next several years. Real estate and property management might be something I move into. I wouldn't mind staying in the industry for a while though. I’ll also have a degree in digital interactive systems from UCF, so the sky is the limit and the future holds many possibilities. I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
WW: Do you visit the WakeWorld discussion boards often?
AH: Yeah, I don't always comment, but I love to stay in the loop
WW: What question were you hoping we’d ask you, but we didn’t, and what is the answer?
AH: Where can you find my board? On my website (AustinHair.net).
WW: Who would you like to thank?
AH: Jobe, Supra, Zinka, Cobian, Marine Products, Aluminum Boat Cradles and nGroup.