Two years ago you probably hadn't heard of Harley Clifford. In fact, one year ago you may not have heard of him. After winning the 2009 Pro Tour in his rookie season, there's no one in the industry who hasn't heard of him now. Seemingly coming from nowhere, Harley has taken the wakeboarding world by storm. Harley must know something about wakeboarding that he's not telling the rest of us. His rapid rate of improvement is only getting faster and thinking about what he might do in the next few years is just scary.
Harley is from Australia, where he started wakeboarding at a young age. After he showed some potential in wakeboarding he started living the dream and began the "endless summer," spending six months in Australia for the warmer months, followed by six months in America for even more warm weather. All his hard work has paid off with the Pro Tour victory, but Harley doesn't show any signs of stopping. Learning new tricks, such as nuclear toeside whirlies and hitting all four nines wake to wake, he's in a league of his own. 2009 Was a breakout year for Harley, and we'll only see more of his talent in the years to come.
WW: Hello Harley, how are you? HC: Hey! I'm good. Cheers.
WW: Can you give us your name, age, birthplace and, for all the single ladies, your phone number? HC: Harley Clifford, 15, Newcastle, Australia and my number is 407-***-8***.
WW: Where do you call home right now? HC: I am living in Orlando at the moment, but I still call my home in Australia home.
WW: Can you even remember your first time on a wakeboard? HC: I can't really remember, but I was probably about five and it was at a place we used to go camping called Myall Lakes. I'm not even really sure who was there.
WW: When did you decide that you wanted to wakeboard for a living? HC: Probably last year after the first time I came to America for the season.
WW: So is there a trick out there that you can't do? HC: Still yet to complete the 1080.
WW: What is your most memorable trick that you have landed and how did the whole situation go down? HC: I mean, of course it was probably my first invert that I landed, which was a toeside backroll. The story goes like this: I was wakeboarding at my home river (Williams River) and I was behind my old boat, which I think at the time was a Lewis Outback, and I had been trying the toeside backroll for about a week now and after about five tries on that day I finally landed my first toeside backroll. I was super stoked and I can remember my brothers jumping out of the boat!
WW: Can you give us the run down of a normal day in your life right now? HC: A normal day would be wake up, cook some scrambled eggs, toast, ham and tomato. Then I would eat that for breaky. That would be followed with cleaning my teeth. After that I would usually give my mate, Sam, a call and he would come pick me up because me and him wakeboard together every day. We would either go out to Aaron Rathy's house or Daniel Powers' house or maybe even someone else's house to go wakeboard. When I get out to either of those homes, I would go for a set behind the boat and then leave, come back to my house and go wakeskate on Adam's jet ski or maybe even go to OWC for a little cable sesh. After that I would go eat. I usually eat at a different restaurant nearly every night and then I might go hang out with some friends for a while. Then come home and sleep.
WW: Since you hop around the world chasing the summer every year, do you ever miss the feeling of being cold? HC: Let's just say I miss being in Australia, but I don't miss the cold weather at all.
WW: What's your local spot to ride back in Australia? HC: The Logan River in Brisbane.
WW: Do you have regular crew that you ride with? HC: I usually just ride with my mates, Sam Thomson and Jarrod Askew.
WW: So it's the finals and you're next off the dock. What on earth is going through your mind? HC: When I ride in contests I don't think about the contest. I just try and ride like I do out freeriding.
WW: How exited are you to get your driver's license? You just going to start driving till you run out of gas or what? HC: So excited, but, unfortunately, I still can't get my driver's license until I'm 17 'cause the rules in Australia are different. So I won't be able to get it until September 2010.
WW: Did you look up to anyone for inspiration when you were first getting into the sport? HC: I've always looked up to Parks Bonifay and Darin Shapiro, but as I got into the sport more and more I started looking up to people like Shawn Watson, Phillip Soven and Danny Harf.
WW: Do you think you could name all 50 states from a map on the spot? HC: Without a doubt...pff no! No chance. I'm not even sure where Florida is located in America. Haha.
WW: Haha! Come on man, that's just sad. How many states do you think you can name then? HC: Umm, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, California and Arizona. That's all I can think of.
WW: What is your outlook on wakeboarding and what are your intentions for the sport? HC: It's an awesome sport that I want to do forever, and I would love to be able to do good in the contests, invent new tricks and just try and help push wakeboarding in the direction that it should be going.
WW: What is your favorite trick to do as of right now? HC: Umm, most probably a method toeside backroll to blind. It just feels cool even though you have to pass the handle a couple times. It just feels like it flows really well through the air.
WW: So this year you turned a lot of heads when you announced that you were riding in Pro Men instead of Jr. Men. What was your reason for bumping yourself out of Juniors to ride with big dogs? HC: I just felt that I did pretty decent in Junior Men and then I won the 2009 Aussie Pro Tour and a couple of the Americans came out to compete at that, so I just decided it seemed a little silly to go from winning the Aussie Pro Tour back to competing in Junior Men.
WW: When you won the first tour stop as your first-ever Pro Men win in the U.S., what was going through your mind? Did you feel as if you proved yourself to the world and that you made the right decision on riding Pro Men? HC: After winning the first tour stop of the year and my first-ever Pro Tour event I have competed in, I just felt that I had proved to myself that going pro was a good decision.
WW: Where is the coolest place that wakeboarding has ever taken you? HC: Well, I'm in Canada at the moment and this is like the most scenic place I have ever been to, so it is awesome to come here. And I got the chance to travel to Egypt last year for one of the World Cup stops and that was easily the coolest place that I have ever been to.
WW: So you turn on your iPod, what are the first five songs you listen to and who are they by? HC: "Dance Wiv Me" by Dizzie Rascal, "Flex" by Dizzie Rascal, "Right Hand Hi" by Kid Sister, "Shallow Days" by Blackalicious and "Shoes" by Mr. Ozio.
WW: How does it feel that your friends that you ride with back home are also in the States for the summer with you? HC: Its cool. It kind of makes me feel like I'm at home a little bit, which helps 'cause I get a little bit homesick.
WW: What is your current set up? HC: 134 Liquid Force Watson Classic and Soven bindings.
WW: Roughly how many strangers ask you if you are from Australia in a day? HC: Umm, in between 10 and 15.
WW: With how good wakeboarding is going for you right now, what are you doing about school? Is there a college frat boy life in your future? HC: Umm, we will see. I have finished school and I am currently doing a Tafe course that will be able to get me into a university, so if wakeboarding ends up not working out for me, I can always fall back onto that. But I feel the way it is going for me now, it is definitely going to work out.
WW: What's your favorite wakeboarding video and why? HC: My favorite movie would have to be Global Warning 'cause there are so many sick riders in it and Aaron Rathy's section is insane!
WW: So I'm going to take a random topic from the WakeWorld Discussion Board right now and see what your thoughts are on it. Why do wake chicks dress like dudes??? Do you like your ladies rockin' the guys board shorts or do you prefer the oh-so famous look of the bikini bottoms? HC: Haha, that's a simple question. Obviously a girl with bikini bottoms on.
WW: Do you have any word of advice for the kids out there wanting to do exactly what you have done? HC: If you're trying to be a professional wakeboarder, just try not to ever lose the love for the sport and always have fun.
WW: If it wasn't for _________, I wouldn't be where I am today. HC: Dad, Mum and my brothers.