| Brad Smeele
Our next interview takes us all the way to the other side of the globe to the man we know as Brad Smeele. Brad hails from New Zealand where he first started to wakeboard all the way up until his first 1080. Brad loves to have a good time on and off the water, which must explain why he is now living in the U.S. for the majority of the year! Brad is super smooth on and off the water with his huge tricks into the flats and his ravishing good looks for the ladies. If you haven't seen a video with Brad in it yet, then I suggest you pick one up or catch a big wave on the Internet and surf around for one. Either way, you will be happy with what you see. Until then, check out my one on one with Brad Smeele.
WW: Brad, what's happening?
BS: Ummm, is that a rhetorical question?
WW: So I'm not going to make the famous mistake of asking where in Australia you are from, because I know you are from New Zealand. So where in NEW ZEALAND are you from and how old are you?
BS: I am from Auckland, New Zealand and I am 22 years young.
WW: What first got you into riding?
BS: My mother was actually one of NZ's top tournament water skiers and she got me into skiing when I was about eight or nine years old. We mainly just did it on family holidays. Then one holiday, when I was about 12, one of our family friends brought along an old plastic wakeboard with sandal strap bindings, so I decided to give it a go and I was hooked. I have never water skied since.
WW: Do you remember what model your first wakeboard was?
BS: I had a Hyperlite Fusion with Shifter bindings (that was our family board). My own first board was the first Premier with blue Highbacks.
WW: Did you look up to any NZ riders growing up or were you all about the U.S. wake scene?
BS: I definitely had some good riders to look up to in NZ. The first good riders I went wakeboarding with were Brant Hales and Antz Colling (now two of my best friends). They helped me land my first tantrum and a bunch of tricks following. And, of course, I looked up to Jeff Weatherall, as he was the best rider in NZ at the time. But the first rider I saw that
really blew me away was the late Mark Kenney. I went along to the Ballistics wakeboard camp where he was hanging out and I got to see him shred. It was unbelievable! I remember it so vividly. I even saw him try, and get super close to, a 1080. That's when I really started to take notice of the top riders in the U.S. My favorites were Parks and Danny, and it's so cool to now be part of the Ronix Team with them.
WW: Can you walk us through a normal day in your life right now?
BS: No day is really normal for me at the moment. Obviously I try to ride at least once a day, but I am also rehabbing a few injuries. My knee, shoulder and back have all been giving me issues, so I try to exercise them every day. I try to learn something new on the guitar, write emails, write event sponsorship proposals, blog, eat, sleep and the rest.
WW: Not too long ago you became a member of the 1080 club. What was going through your mind when you were riding away from it?
BS: Did that just happen? Hahaha. But shortly after that I was just thinking about how cool it was to have most of my closest friends there to be a part of it. Dean Smith driving the boat, Alex Brown observing, Scotty Broome driving chase, Jeff Weatherall shooting photos, Josh 'Carnie' Robinson shooting video, Antz Colling screaming his face off. It was just such an epic time! But it was also really meaningful because it was Kenney's favorite place to ride, so I definitely felt like he was there watching. It was also in pretty much the same spot I landed my first invert. It was probably the best day of my life...so far.
WW: Have you tried or come close to any more 1080's?
BS: Yeah, I get close pretty much every time I try it, but I have not been trying many lately. Over the last year I have been fighting through a few injuries, shoulder, back and knee, so I have been keeping away from the 1080. But I am back at it now, so, hopefully, I can lay a few down in the next few weeks. I am definitely thinking 1260 too!
WW: Favorite movie of all time?
BS: Wakeboard movie - Incomplete. Movie movie - Training Day.
WW: Do you like Vegemite too or is that just an Aussie thing?
BS: I like Vegemite, but I usually have the NZ version, which is called Marmite. They taste pretty similar.
WW: So you turn your iPod on and what are the first five songs you listen to and who are they by?
BS: Michael Franti and Spearhead - Ganja Babe, The Game Ft. Lil Wayne - My Life, (hed) P.E - Lets Ride, Cut Chemist - What's the Altitude and Jordan Lewis - One Night Alone (Jordan's Longdrop Remix).
WW: If you never slipped your foot into a wakeboard binding, what do you think you would be doing right now?
BS: Probably playing some kind of sport, maybe rugby or snowboarding. I definitely would not have an office job.
WW: Do you have a favorite trick that you do or a trick that always makes you pumped after landing it all smooth?
BS: Front side mute to backside 180 into the flats!
WW: It seems like there are a lot of cable parks starting to pop up in the States now. Word on the street is that it is the future of the sport. What do you think?
BS: It is definitely going to push the level of riding in the U.S. and all over the world. There is also talk of a cable going up in NZ somewhere. I'm pretty stoked about that! All it means is that more people are going to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the water. Look at Nick Davies. He spent his first few years just riding around the cable, not even doing air tricks, and now he has possibly the best board control anyone has ever seen.
WW: Facebook, MySpace or the new hit sensation, Twitter?
BS: I'm more into Facebook than MySpace or Twitter, but I have been working with a new website called iwake.com, which is basically a Facebook for wakeboarders. You can post your latest wake vids, photos, blogs, etc. and it is a great way to find people to ride with here in the U.S. I am pushing it internationally so in the next year it will be able to help people meet other riders and to find rides anywhere in the world. But look out! In the not too distant future YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will join forces to create the biggest time wasting website ever! It will be called you-twitt-face.com...hahahaha.
WW: Do you get shocked when you see how big our "large" meals are at fast food joints?
BS: Not so much the meals, but the large drinks over here are huge! Medium here is like large in NZ.
WW: Do you see yourself more as a freerider or a contest kind of guy?
BS: I like to see myself as both. I have been focusing on my freeriding much more than contests lately. I have been really enjoying riding rails too. It's so much fun getting creative on rails.
WW: So I'm sitting here on the phone with Nick Jones and I figured this would be a great time for a special celebrity guest question. Nick wants to know why your New Zealand accent starts getting heavier when you're talking to the ladies?
BS: Hahaha, I think Nick just notices it more because he wishes he had a cool accent that he could use to pull the ladies...
WW: In an interview a few months back, Derek Cook had a very passionate answer about sponsorships in this industry. Do you have anything to say on this topic?
BS: Needless to say, sponsorship has definitely suffered a huge blow with the recession. Sponsorship budgets have had huge cutbacks, which has led to many riders having their salaries reduced, no longer getting sponsored boats or even getting dropped completely.
It seems like there are more and more good riders popping up every year and it's getting harder and harder to get good contest results and to stand out as a pro rider. This makes us riders have to think out of the box.
We can't just go and do whirly 5's and 900's and expect to get a big paycheck from sponsors. We need to add our own style to our riding or do something that has never been done before or something different in order to make ourselves stand out.
The main point that I want to get across is that, as we all know, wakeboarding is an expensive sport and not all of us have parents that will pay our way through it until we get on salaries with sponsors. I am at a point now where I haven been building relationships with sponsors, some for many years, and some of those relationships have grown into some of my most supportive sponsors. But I feel like some of my sponsors have been dragging me along with empty promises and the occasional free product, but there is a point where free product does not cut it anymore. I can't eat free clothes, boats don't run on sunglasses and I can't pay for flights with a bunch of stickers.
All I'm trying to say is:
- To riders - Keep pushing, get creative, hang in there and if you work hard enough you will reach your goals. Let your riding speak for itself.
- To Sponsors - Be honest with your athletes. Work with them (i.e. coaching clinics, demos, photo shoots, etc.) because at the end of the day your riders are your most valuable asset for promoting and selling your product.
WW: Any cool future plans for the rest of the year?
BS: Yeah, there are a few things in the works at the moment. I have big plans for the season back home in NZ, so, hopefully, it all plays out nicely. Keep an eye out!
WW: Would you like to close out with some shout outs?
BS: Big shout out to Jeromy from iwake.com for supporting me and helping me through this rough season. Also, a big thanks to everyone at Ronix. I am so stoked to be a part of the team and everything from the 2010 range looks epic! Thanks to anyone and everyone who has let me crash on their couch while I am being a nomad this season. Thanks to the photographers for making us look good in the mags. Thanks to Carnie from Canvas for putting together a sick DVD. To my mum and dad. Mountain Dew NZ, Capix, Skull Candy, Ballistics Wake and Snow, Ju$t A Dollar and Urban Rider.