A name in wakeboarding that needs no introduction. After a near-perfect season and at just 22 years old, Harley Clifford has no plans for slowing down any time soon. Now that summer has arrived in his homeland, we caught up with Harley in Australia while their season is just getting started.
WW: How old were you when you first jumped on a wakeboard?
HC: I was probably around five years old. My parents said it actually took me a while to get into it. I don’t really remember that far back, but I was on the water from around the age of three kneeboarding and tubing. It took me around two years before I built up the courage to wakeboard.
WW: How did you balance school and riding when you were younger? Did your school let you miss a lot of days for comps?
HC: It was easy when I was young, but when I started to get into grades 10-12 it got harder. I ended up having to do correspondence work through an online school as a school in Australia would not let me attend for only half of the year. Believe it or not though, I actually did really well at school (haha). For never studying and just turning up for tests and exams, I finished off as one of the top students in my grade every year.
WW: Did you ever think about going to college to study?
HC: Not really. By the time I was fifteen I had already started making good money from wakeboarding, so college was not really on the cards then. I feel like if it’s something I need I could always go back to it when I’m older though.
WW: The 2015 schedule was the busiest in history. With a few more international comps added, which one would you say was your favorite place to visit?
HC: It was such a hectic year, but definitely a fun one. It was so cool to be able to travel around the world for all the different events. I would have to say Portugal was one of my favorites.
WW: Why would you pick Portugal?
HC: The location was beautiful and they had such awesome service for the riders. I had the opportunity to go and explore Portugal with my parents after the event as well and it’s such a beautiful country!
WW: What was your highlight of this year?
HC: Winning the MasterCraft Throwdown and receiving an X Games gold medal! That was an absolute dream come true.
WW: How stoked were you that wakeboarding was included in the X Games this year?
HC: Oh, it was the best thing that’s happened to wakeboarding since I turned pro I would say! It’s really starting to put wakeboarding back on the main stage and get it out to millions of people!
WW: Is it cool to see fellow Aussie Cory Teunissen coming up the ranks so quickly? Would you say he was your toughest competition this year?
HC: So cool to see Cory crushing it! I have known him and his family since I was about eight years old. I grew up riding with Cory all the time and he is one of my good mates. It’s hard to say. He definitely had some awesome results, but I can’t count out guys like Mike Dowdy and Noah Flegel - those guys killed it all year as well.
WW: What other riders inspire and push you to ride your best?
HC: There are so many new riders who are pushing the sport and pushing me! Mike Dowdy and Massi Pif are two that I really enjoy watching. They go so hard and are landing some of the biggest tricks in this sport.
WW: You’ve won Wakeboarder Of The Year two years running and 2015 was one of your best seasons to date. Were you expecting to win the award again this year?
HC: I was hoping to win it for sure, considering it was my best year to date. I didn’t really keep my eye out on the cable scene this year, but I heard Dom Hernler went undefeated all year, so you never know. It could have gone either way!
WW: Any plans of slowing down?
HC: Not yet! I’m only twenty-two and having more fun on a wakeboard than ever.
WW: What’s the hardest part about leaving Aus for the U.S. season?
HC: It would have to be leaving my family, my girlfriend and my puppies!!
WW: You chase the endless summer, which means that by the time you leave Florida, the Aussie summer is just starting. Do you ever take a break?
HC: Always being in the summer months makes it hard to take a break. I always plan on it when I get back to Australia after a long season in the U.S. I’ll take like a week off, but then I start getting withdrawals from wakeboarding, so I just start riding again (haha).
WW: How many times do you usually ride a day?
HC: Depends. When I am in season and training, usually three, if not more, but while I’m home in Aus, I only ride once or twice just to maintain.
WW: Where do you ride in Aus?
HC: I used to live in Brisbane and rode on the Logan river, but now that I bought a house on the Gold Coast, I ride on the Coomera River.
WW: If you’re not wakeboarding, what else are you doing?
HC: Surfing, doing cool stuff with friends and family or traveling!
WW: What kind of things do you do off the water to prevent injuries?
HC: Just a lot of flexibility work, massages and time in the gym.
WW: Any new video parts in the works?
HC: Not as of yet, but planning on starting one! Would love to work on one the whole time I’m in Aus and release when I get back to the States in March.
WW: What’s up with all your pro models. How different is the Remedy from the Harley Classic?
HC: So stoked on my new boards and graphics out for 2016! The Remedy is such an awesome board to ride! It glides through the water so easy from rail to rail, and with the fish-like tail it accelerates up the wake making you not have to work hard to get good pop! It’s a quick board, so it lands gently! So fun to ride.
WW: You have some of the best sponsors in the sport. Any new ones on the horizon for 2016?
HC: Maybe. ;) You will have to wait and see!
WW: Thanks Harley. Any shout-outs?
HC: Thanks so much to my family/friends for always supporting me! My fans, you guys are so awesome. Thanks for keeping me going and stoked on wakeboarding!
Find Harley on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.