If you've ever seen Dean Smith ride, you have to at least be a little bit curious to see how his little sister, Hayley, rides. Once you see Hayley ride, you'll realize where Dean got all his skills! :) Hayley has an intensity on the water that stands in stark contract to the smile that's always on her face and the laid back attitude she has towards life. And she definitely has the "big air" gene that apparently runs in the Smith family.
At a time in women's wakeboarding where you could easily make the case that there is more competition than ever before in the history of the sport, Hayley is slowly working her way up the ranks and earning respect wherever she rides. That's how she walked away with the 2009 Aussie Rider of the Year award and that's why you should keep an eye on her in 2010.
WW: How old are you and how long have you been wakeboarding? HS: I am getting over the hill now at 23. I remember learning heelside 180's when I was 13, so I will say I have been wakeboarding for 10 years.
WW: Where are you from and where do you live now? HS: I grew up and still currently call Sydney, Australia my home. I used to live right on the Port Hacking River 30 minutes south of the city, but now live about five minutes from the Big Smoke and Sydney Harbour, which is my favorite place in the world!
WW: How would your mom describe you and how accurate would she be? HS: My mUm would probably describe me as cheeky, messy, bossy and a little b*t*h. She would probably be spot on. To her I would say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, darling!
WW: You are back in the U.S. after spending a summer in Australia. How was your summer? HS: My summer was amazing! We now have a cable park in Sydney, which pretty much occupied all of my spare time. I was not home for very long though, roughly four months as there was no Australian Pro Tour, which usually takes up a majority of the summer. Though I was still flat out, with three big events, Wake Wars, the WWA Pro Am and Brostock.
I also coached at a bunch of grommet cable mornings with Black Diamond Wakeboard School, which was so fun. We would ride doubles with the kids and teach them some basics. We would help seven-year-olds over rails for their first time and get some of the bigger kids learning new tricks on the kickers.
WW: I heard that you were voted 2009 Aussie Rider of the Year. Who votes on that and what was that like? HS: Ah yes, this is true! The Riders Choice Awards are voted on by pretty much the riders, and some key industry figures. It was a pretty crazy feeling actually. Obviously, every year I would love to have to be awarded it. Since the start, Amber has been given the honors, and rightly so. I honestly didn't think that I had a chance this year as Amber was riding so awesome and I had a pretty bad American season. I was shocked and kind of sat there for a little bit taking it all in! It is probably my proudest moment!
WW: Where are your favorite spots to ride in Australia? What about the U.S.? HS: Australia would be the Port Hacking on a perfect flat day. The water is normally crystal clear. In some sections you can see the sandy bottom. You have the Royal National Park on one side and big houses on the other, along with a few cute little shacks. The butter mornings don't last long before the tubers and social boaters come out, but when you get those amazing mornings it is hard to be anywhere else! There are also some awesome rivers in the northern NSW area that run through small country towns. The rivers are pretty much untouched apart from a few fishing boats that might drive past you every now and then.
I have been able to travel a little bit around the U.S., though not as much as I would like to. From the places I got to visit I would say South Carolina had a really cool place. I wish I remembered the name or where it was! I would love to go back there one day. Though, I don't think I would want to live anywhere other than Clermont. I love our chain of lakes and the people I get to ride with.
WW: Are you still roommates with Amber Wing or did you get sick of each other? HS: I have been living with Amber for the past four U.S. seasons. It is just so easy. This year we are living with another Australian girl, Beck Frangi, in Amber's new pad, which she bought at the end of last year. It is awesome. I am currently looking out from the lounge to the dock where Amber's boat is sitting fully loaded on a sheet of glass. Things could defiantly be a lot worse!
WW: Will you be competing much in 2010? HS: I will be competing again this year. So far I have a few events planned with Masters, Wake Games, which I am really excited about, along with the usual U.S. Tour stops. I am looking at heading to the UK to ride at Wakestock in June, which I have wanted to get to for a few years now, so I am super pumped to finally get there.
WW: Whom do you usually ride with besides Amber? HS: A usual crew would be Amber and Ben Greenwood or one of the other coaches from the Wakeboard Camp like Bob Sichel, Chad Lowe and Kiwi Kurt Robertson. Pretty much any of the coaches at the camp will be out with us riding.
WW: Who would you like to ride with, but never have? HS: How long a list can I have? Last year I got to watch Lyman ride doubles with Murray, which was real cool. Jealous? I would be extremely content if I got to ride in one boat with Byerly, Randall, Darin and Parks. That's not so much to ask for is it? Didn't think so.
WW: What kind of run is it going to take to win a Pro Tour stop this year? HS: This year is going to be tough with the girls. Nicola is so consistent and just rides so darn smooth. Amber has been banging out a few new tricks and getting super strong on toeside 720's now. It's at the point where we don't flinch when she pulls it out. She has been really focusing on making all of her tricks stand out by holding grabs longer and tweaking things differently. So to beat Nicola, Amber and Dallas, the girls aren't just going to have to learn a bunch of new mobes and spins, everything is going to have to be perfected and stand out from the rest of the field.
WW: What are the toughest tricks you’re trying to get down before the season starts? HS: Over the last summer I have been working on Pete Roses, crow mobes and toeside backside 360's. I would like to have them all in my bag of tricks by the end of the season, along as a few different glides.
WW: What are your favorite tricks to do? HS: I love cutting into a kicker late and trying to grab glides in a different way. I just learnt melan glides at OWC and haven't been so excited for a long time. Also, toeside backside 180's with a late melan grab. It is a real slow feeling trick and I feel like Shawn Watson when I do it!
WW: What’s the secret to your success? HS: Surrounding myself with positive influences on and off the water. I really look up to Amber and Ben, so getting to ride with them most days is awesome. Getting to ride with some of the world’s best coaches both in Australia at Black Diamond and at The Wakeboard Camp in Florida doesn't hurt either. Everybody I learn from all know how I want to ride and don't try to make me ride like everyone else. I think that is why Amber and I both like to ride together, because we are both on the same wavelength as far as the direction we want to take woman's wakeboarding.
WW: Are you happy with the current state of women’s wakeboarding? HS: I am! It is not like there are only three girls doing big things. All the women are driving themselves on rails, behind the boat and on the cable. There are girls with such different styles and focuses. Even in the younger girls there are some rippers who are going to come up through the pro women ranks giving the girls a healthy future.
WW: How do you think it could be improved? HS: I honestly think the girls are doing good things for themselves. I have always been one of the people who would agree with the guys that us girls aren't really doing that much to help ourselves. I don't think that applies anymore. Hopefully, the industry will start to see that and appreciate what the girls are doing. With websites like WakeGirls.com trying to showcase the improvements at all levels of women's wakeboarding, hopefully, more people will agree with me.
WW: Do you ride better when you can hear music pumping from the boat? HS: If I can hear a song that makes me excited while I am riding, I do usually ride better probably because I am not thinking too much while I am edging into the wake rather than singing in my head! Music can change a mood so easily, as can people around you. If everyone is pumped and you have feel-good music playing, then generally you're going to be relaxed when you get into the water.
WW: What kind of music do you listen to? HS: I like such a variety of music. Depending on what I am doing and what my mood is like, I can change from rap to house music, real mellow beats and soulful pop music. I love the Hill Top Hoods, Phoenix and Sia at the moment.
WW: Are you single? Attached? Looking? Accepting applications? HS: Accepting applications.
WW: Is wakeboarding your favorite sport or is there something else you really like to do? HS: Growing up I had to decide if I wanted to wakeboard or ride horses. I still love horse riding. I was getting into cross-country just before I sold my horse to head to Florida for the first time. Pretty much I decided that I can always ride a horse, but there are only so many years my body will hold out to wakeboard. I love board sports and would love to be really good at them. I could only imagine a day involving surfing, wakeboard and surfing.
WW: What's your current setup - board, bindings, etc. HS: I am riding the Ronix Dahlia with Faith Hope Love bindings. I am loving my board, the way it holds its edge and snaps off the wake. It holds super tight through the wake and has a solid vertical pop. I really do think it has changed the way I ride, giving me more confidence to cut in a little harder and develop a bit more of an aggressive style.
WW: What do you hate about wakeboarding? HS: There are a lot of things, but I would prefer not to think about most of them. Wakeboarding is a social sport mainly because you always need other people to drive and observe. Sometimes you just want to get out there, but you’re stuck to find a crew. It would be cool just to go out whenever you want. Sometimes we are also a little more restricted, needing the wake and a handle, but things like winches are opening up the options to where we can go.
WW: What’s the biggest wake you’ve ever ridden behind? HS: Probably Keith’s wake. He has his boat dialed and his shape is just perfect. It is not daunting to edge into because it is so solid and clean. Keith, can I come ride with you?
WW: There is a character named Hayley Smith on a TV show called “American Dad!” Have you ever seen it? If so, do you have anything in common with that character? HS: Other than having an alien living in the house and a geeky brother? Maybe I should start watching it just in case I get asked this again I have a funnier response. There used to be a character on an Australian TV show called “Home and Away” also with my name. I used to think I was pretty cool.
WW: What’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you? HS: It has taken me four attempts to answer this question. Clearly I am not that exciting! After brainstorming with my roommates, WE have decided that getting to see boy band Hanson 13 years after their last chart topping hit for my 23rd birthday. I was pretty darn excited!
WW: What’s the dumbest question anyone has ever asked you in an interview? HS: ARE YOU KIDDING?? THIS ONE!
WW: Any advice for women that want to excel at wakeboarding? HS: You are always going to take hard falls that are going to knock your confidence around, but you need to be able to compose yourself and move forward. Go to The Wakeboard Camp or Black Diamond Wakeboard School! Spending the time and money to have a professional coach analyze your riding and correct your technique can make huge differences rather than banging your head set after set. It is amazing how quickly I have seen people learn when they are getting coached three sets a day for five days. Sometimes making an investment in your riding can save a lot of headaches and simply build your ability.
I also believe one of the biggest things that has helped Amber and myself has been the fact that we have ridden with guys the whole time we have been wakeboarding. We were just one of the boys and they were just as hard on us as they were with each other. Sometimes they were tougher. Even now I think it is the same. We ride with a bunch of guys who are all positive influences with Ben, Bob and my brother. The guys all believe in us and push us to try new things. Having a crew that motivates you to want to learn is so important!
WW: Whom would you like to thank? HS: My family. My dad who put up with so many bad attitudes from me, especially early in the morning! But he would still put the boat in when it was dark throughout winter, while Dean was in the USA, just to pull me before school. Also, my brother Dean. I don't think there is anyone who has helped me believe in myself more than him. My mum. Who would I be without my mum? Black Diamond, The Wakeboard Camp, Wing Wetsuits, Ronix Wakeboards and WakeGirls.com. Ben, Amber, Bob, Kurt Robertson and John Henson. Thanks for all your help.