Today we take the longest theoretical plane ride ever to Australia to talk with none other than Brenton Priestley. Brenton has recently jumped on the scene almost as fast as the NBA’s Jeremy Lin. Brenton has showcased all of his skills on a board behind a boat, Jet Ski and in the park. He is now considered one of our sport’s elite all-around riders with his own style that nobody can come close to. This year, Brenton also got his first full-length section in Josh Robinson’s In-Transit film and it couldn't express the guy’s personality on and off the water any better. Enjoy the party animal with the skills to pay the bills (and maybe for a six pack or two), Brenton Priestley.
WW: Brenton, Can you give us a little run down of yourself?
BP: Nick Names - BP, Bip, Brent. Grew up - Melbourne, Australia. Football, gymnastics, basketball, wakeboarding, surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding. Age - I'm 23 years old, youngest of four and an uncle for the first time last year and will be an uncle for the second time next month. Full of brilliant ideas, but never enough cash to achieve them…yet. I'm not scared to live, party and chase the dream, and that’s what I'm going to do ‘til the day I can’t. Wakeboarding is my life.
WW: Do you feel that gymnastics helped with your wakeboarding at all?
BP: Yeah, I guess. I mean it helps with air sense and knowing where you are through most tricks I guess. Not so much now, but when I was younger for sure. But it’s all still there, so maybe it’s time to get on the tramp and start throwing some of the double combos I have been thinking of.
WW: When did you first step into a pair of bindings? Do you still remember that first ride?
BP: First time I ever rode a wakeboard was when I was seven years old. It was on one of those old-school single direction HO boards. I remember it like it was yesterday.
When I was young we grew up spending a lot of time traveling to our caravan, about two hours out of Melbourne, on a lake called Lake Eildon. I was so small and light at this time to start me off one of our family friends just held the board with me standing on top and when the rope pulled tight, he just let me go and off I went, did a lap of the bay and got whipped in. They continued to do that for the next 3-4 times until one day some chunky rollers got the best of me and I had to do a deep water start like a normal person would! I popped up first go while the boat was just in idle. I will never forget those times!
WW: Did you look up to any riders when you were younger?
BP: I really looked up to my older brother. He was a shredder back in Oz and still is when he's not base jumping! Him and Chris O. grew up competing against each other, so my biggest influence would be from the two of them for sure.
I liked the way riders rode like Byerly, Matt Staker, Greg Nelson. But a lot of the time I was watching skate films or playing snowboard games on Playstation. Wakeboarding at that stage wasn't that interesting to me unless I was doing it.
WW: When did you first decide you wanted to be a professional wakeboarder?
BP: It was when I was about 14. I was in high school and I knew I didn't want to be a doctor or lawyer.
I was just thinking of a way out all through high school and that was to become a carpenter. It’s really common in Australia to leave school early to do a trade, which is what I did, so I could have a job and some money to help be able to pay to ride and travel.
WW: You currently ride for Byerly Boards. How is that going?
BP: Byerly is rad! Butch and Byerly are a huge help to me in the States and in Australia. I worked with Butch a lot this year testing new board shapes and sharing ideas to come up with new boards to add to the line - boards that are not only for the boat or just for rails, but an all-around fast fun poppy rail friendly board. So be sure to see some radness from Byerly Boards in the near future.
WW: What were your highlights from the 2011 season?
BP: Huge highlights this year were the responses from In-Transit. It’s been my first international video section and I was really stoked on that. [Editor’s note: see Brenton’s section from In-Transit below]
Otherwise, just riding every day. Boat’s not the easiest to ride here in Oz, so it’s rad to ride boat every day behind Deano's New Axis A22, building rails on Clear Lake and shredding them behind the ski (I knew I did carpentry for a reason!). The whole season was a highlight and definitely one of the better ones I have had, but there is definitely better to come!
WW: By the looks of your section of In-Transit, we can tell you like to party. But the real question is who knows how to party more, Australia or USA?
BP: Australia for sure! You’re only young once, so make the most of it without messing up your day to day things and keep it on a good level and all is good.
WW: Do you have any plans for the fresh 2012 season?
BP: Plans are to keep shredding! I will be back in America from the 1st of April, chilling back in the hood on Clear Lake. Just got the event calendar for Europe, so planning to go there for a month. Then it’s back to the States to keep on keeping on, meaning shoot film, ride and do what we do.
WW: Who would we normally see you riding with while you're in Orlando?
BP: I like to keep it to the hood. On a regular day to day I would ride with Chris O., Mitch, Dean, and then I ride with Shane, Rossi and Clay when he's not living the other dream...good crew to ride with to help progress my riding and style.
WW: You now live on Clear Lake in Orlando during the Australian winters. When did that start happening?
BP: I have been coming to the States now for four years! The first year was in 2008 for three months. I came to check it out between my apprenticeships as a carpenter. In 2009 I did six weeks ‘cause my boss's wouldn't let me have the time off to go longer! In 2010 we agreed that my heart wasn't in carpentry, as I kept going wakeboarding every day! Mind you my boss would love to come and join in as well! I headed off to the States in May 2010 for six months. In 2011 things improved and I did another six months, all these times living on Clear Lake in Mitch Langfield’s folk’s house. A huge shout out to the Langfields. They have been my second family and have been a huge help!
WW: Do you have any home riding spots back in Australia?
BP: Everywhere! When I am back home I don't live in any certain state or town. It just feels like I'm on a couch or in a motel riding at a cable or behind a random boat. It’s a lot different to the States. To wakeboard here is a hell of a lot different to riding back in Orlando.
WW: You aren't just a boat shredder either. You are one hell of a rail slayer. Do you have a favorite spot to hit rails?
BP: It all started when my parents split and my dad moved north. I mean, bad things happen for good reasons and this was one of them. In Melbourne I rode with Chris O. behind the boat. Then when I would go to Queensland, where my old man was, I would ride cable. Riding boat there was hard and it was just easier to ride the cable. I never really liked cable tricks, ever, and still really don't. It’s not the way they look. It’s just more to me the way they feel, so I would just stick to kickers and rails. I think doing hundreds of laps on the cable since I was 14 was what gave me the influence on rails and kickers
WW: What is your favorite boat trick and rail trick right now?
BP: For boat there's no better feeling than stomping a big old indy backside 180 out in the flats, or a method. For rails, not too sure. I have been a fan of backside 180’s into switch tail or nose and that normally feels pretty fun. Remember gang, spin on and off rails, not on them!
WW: So what kind of music do you Aussie boys listen to over there?
BP: There's a huge variety. We have this radio station here called Triple J that rips and tears all day long!
But I'm a big fan of The Black Key, Tame Impala and The Doors. They seem to be my three albums that I will listen to when I first get on a plane. Not sure why, but it makes the plane ride that much easier.
WW: Anywhere specific you haven't been to but always wanted to go?
BP: Europe for sure. A lot of rad rail contests over there that I want to be at this year. I would love to do all of Europe. South America would be rad too. I still haven't been, but would love to get over there one Ozzie summer for some waves. I pretty much want to go everywhere though, see everything and experience everything at least once, you know.
WW: You and Chris O. have recently started a new wakeboard magazine called live simple. Can you give us more info about the mag?
BP: live simple was something we both came up with to just show the people that it's not all about riding and to give a view from a rider's perspective, not the photographer's. So at the end of the day it's two mates with a camera each shooting anything and everything and getting arty with it. We have both always been into art and been creative, so it's been a good way to express it through live simple, and to also choose what shots we want and do whatever we want with the magazine.
There is nothing like this being done in wake, so it's something fresh and different. It's been a fun journey and will continue to go on, as we are now shooting a bunch of film, not just digital, and have many more ideas for live simple, so stay tuned.
WW: Any words of advice to the young guns out there who want to be just like Brenton Priestley?
BP: Don't be like me, or anyone else for that matter. Chase your dream and be yourself. It doesn't hurt to steal some tricks or maybe copy an idea and make it your own, but be yourself!
WW: How about some thank-yous?
BP: Huge shout out to the crew at Jetpilot. They’ve been a huge help to me since day one. Thanks to Byerly Boards, Rockstar, Skull Candy, my family, my friends and everyone else I have forgotten. Thanks to all! Yew!