This week we get to know our northern friend, Kyle Rattray. Kyle hails from Canada, but now calls Clermont, Florida his home. Don't be fooled though. Kyle is still a humble northern Canadian and one of wakeboarding’s hardest working athletes. You've most likely seen him in magazines and videos, or he could even be that familiar guy you have seen driving the boat at a Pro Tour stop. Either way, he is everywhere and not going anywhere. We got a chance to sit down with Kyle as he rolled up his summer season.
WW: Can you give us a general breakdown of yourself?
KR: Generally, my name is Kyle Rattray. I'm originally from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, but I now live in Clermont, Florida with my wife, Kate, and our dog, Logan. I drive a pick-up truck, I like red grapes, navy blue, golfing and my new hobby is learning to BBQ good.
WW: What was is like growing up on the water in Canada?
KR: It was the best way to grow up. Every summer we would spend a lot of time at our cottage. I loved being there because there was so much to do. It was like having my own summer camp, but I could do any activity I wanted whenever I wanted. Once I was old enough to drive the boat alone I was hooked on being on the lake. I think I loved the lake so much when I was a kid because we only had it for 3-4 months of the year. From mid June to early October was all we got. I think I never got tired of it because we weren't able to go there all year round. I feel lucky I was a kid that got to grow up going to the cottage for the summers. In my eyes it was perfect for me.
WW: What was your first memory of wakeboarding?
KR: The first time I ever saw real wakeboarding was in Bala, Muskoka at an SWS (Summer Water Sports) ski show. It was the first waterski show I had ever seen and at that point I was into skiing, kneeboarding, trick skiing, so I remember it being really cool. At the end of the show the last guy to go was this wakeboarder. I remember being mesmerized by how high this guy was going. I thought it was so cool how big he went! He just made it all look so easy and it looked so fun! I remember thinking all I want to do is be able to do what that guy just did!
What I think is cool about that story is that as I got into wakeboarding a bit more in my area, I learned that the guy I watched ride that day was Mark Kenney. He used to go and coach at this school in Muskoka for a few summers and he was the guy I saw ride the first time I ever saw wakeboarding. To this day I can remember so clearly watching him boost S-bends and front flips!
WW: Did you grow up riding with the regular crew or were you all over the place more?
KR: I rode with a lot of different people when I was growing up. My family never had a wakeboard boat, so I was always on the hunt to make friends with people who had them! I liked it that way though. I had fun going to different friends’ houses each day and sort of making a mission out of going to ride. More than anyone though, I rode with Chris Guard a lot. I also rode a lot with Jimmy Brace and Dave Tusyuki. We definitely had a crew of Muskoka guys that rode every day. Those were some of the best summers. I wish I was able to spend more time there now during the summers. It's definitely one of my goals for next summer!
WW: Do you remember the trick that set wakeboarding off for you and made you want to do it forever?
KR: Learning a Pete Rose with Gerry Nunn and Shaun Murray on The Back Yard Tour while we were at a Louisiana Spring Fling event. I always thought it was a cool trick, but I never thought I'd be able to land it. When I landed one finally it kind of made me think, well maybe I could land other tricks I never thought I could.
WW: Did you grow up doing any local grassroots contests or did you just jump straight into the Pro Tour?
KR: I grew up riding in a local grassroots tour called the X-Cup. When I was younger I loved it. There were divisions for all skill levels, awesome prizes and each stop was about 2-3 hours away from the last, so you had to go stay overnight. It felt to me like a mini tour. I think riding in those events growing up really helped me a lot. It helped with my confidence in my riding, helped me learn to deal with being nervous and learn how to compete. I think growing up without having those events, the friends I met there, and having that atmosphere to ride in all the time, I don't know if I'd be in the same place I am today. Having that was huge for me.
WW: How about any other sports growing up?
KR: I played every sport growing up. I played rep hockey, rep baseball, rep basketball, golfed, mountain bike, tennis, skateboard, snowboarded, and downhill skied. I liked being busy. Once I got a bit older, I quit all the summer sports and spent most of my summers at my family cottage. Once I started water skiing and wakeboarding, all I wanted to do was be at the lake.
WW: There are a lot of wakeboarders that play hockey. What wakeboarders would be on your power line?
KR: Chad Sharpe - Left Wing, Russ - Center, Rathy - Right Wing, Myself - Left Defense, Oli -Right Defense.
WW: When was it time for you to make the move to Florida?
KR: I never really felt like it was 'time' in terms of making a career move. It was just want I wanted to do. I had gone down to Florida for six months of the year for a year or two and I loved it. I knew that I didn’t want to go to school yet and I had some opportunities where I could be down in Florida full time. I never looked at it as, "I’m moving to Florida and trying to go pro." I just wanted to be down there riding and having fun. I feel very lucky things have fallen into place for me and I’m able to live the life I’ve always wanted. I enjoy every day.
WW: What is the major difference between your wakeboarding life back home and wakeboarding life here in Florida?
KR: In Florida it is a lot easier to ride a lot more. There are so many lakes that aren't busy and good to ride on and there are so many riders in Orlando, so usually finding a spot to ride with someone isn't too hard, and so many riders have boats. At home a boat with the right motor, weighted right and a calm lake can be a bit more challenging to find. You can just get a lot more quality riding done in Florida I feel like. Riding at home though is still one of my favorite places in the world to go ride.
WW: Besides product, have you noticed a big difference in the sport now from when you started?
KR: Yes, a huge difference with a lot of things! The standard level of riding is insane right now! So many people are so good. It's also different in that riders are branching off a lot more than before I feel like. There now are guys considered boat riders, guys considered rail riders, cable riders, wake park riders. I think it's cool that riders can focus on the aspect of the sport they like and are able to make a living riding how they want too. I think it's good for the sport to have diversity like that.
But there are so many things always changing and getting better. Cable parks, 2.0's, the size of the wakes, the level of riding, the age of all the riders, there's super young guys and older guys still all being able to hang with each other. I think wakeboarding is in a good place right now with the directions it's headed.
WW: Can you walk us through a normal day in your life?
KR: Every day I usually wake up around 7:15-7:30 and already have 1-2 missed calls and a text from Rusty, usually saying, "Ride? Come over." I eat breakfast, let my dog outside, say bye to wife and go over to Rusty's. We usually then go ride around 9:30-10. After that I’ll go home and do some house stuff like clean, work in the yard, fix stuff, do emails, hang with wife or we'll go play golf, depends on the day. Usually then make lunch and make a plan to ride again in the afternoon. I’ll either go back out again with Russ and whoever comes over or we'll go into Orlando to ride. After that I try to make sure I'm home to eat dinner with the wife and hang out at the house for a bit. Some nights after dinner we try and shoot or try to take one more set before dark. I love where we live, so when I'm home I try to not venture too far away. I like using our lake and being at home when I get the chance.
WW: How big of responsibility is it being Travis' back up boat driver on the Pro Tour?
KR: Those are big shoes to fill! He's set the standard on tour of what's expected of a boat driver, so when it's my turn to give him a break I have to try and make sure we don't fall behind, get off schedule, etc. Gotta try to keep Bisch happy and don’t mess with the schedule!
WW: How many more boat driving hours do you think you need to catch up with Travis?
KR: I don't even wanna think about trying to catch up to him. He's gotta hold the record! The amount of hours that guy has spent in a boat most people couldn't handle. I've had my fair share of hours in a boat in my life already, but I don't know many people that could compare to him.
WW: Was there a rider that made an impact on the sport for you?
KR: Yeah, lots of different riders have made impacts on me, all in different ways. I've always looked to Murray though. I've learned a lot from spending time with him and watching how he interacts with people. Same as Russ. He runs a program like no one else and he is hard to keep up to sometimes, but I've learned a lot from him. I have lots of riders I like to watch, but since I first started riding I've always liked to watch JD, Chad, Russ and Danny ride.
WW: What's it like coaching out at The Boarding School?
KR: It's a great place to come to work on your riding and have a fun week. Now with being at the new location in Bithlo, the lakes are NEVER rough. No matter how windy it is, it's always rideable there. There's a great crew of guys there to help you with your riding. Each day there is some combination of two of us there. I like coaching out there because we get to meet a ton of cool people. Travis and Murray have made it a really fun environment to be a part of there. The lakes are great for riding and I get to spend time with some of my great friends each day I’m out there!
WW: How is all the new Byerly gear for next year looking? Excited for Surf Expo?
KR: It all looks killer! There are some new products out this year, as well as new graphics and color ways on some of the product that's been in the line for a while. I'm excited for it all to show up and to be able to start running the new stuff!
Expo is always exciting and it's a cool way to end the year and get excited about some time at home to ride and shoot with all the new gear! The Wake Awards is always a fun night, so, yeah, I am looking forward to Expo.
WW: What is your favorite trick to do right now?
KR: It changes a lot. Right now I've sort of been trying to work on some different 180's into the flats. Tryin’ to learn to take some things big. It's fun to try things you’re sort of a bit timid to do. It's a cool feeling when you accomplish something you were a bit hesitant about.
WW: Any future traveling plans with your wakeboard bag?
KR: I'm on my way home from a Sydney Boat Show-WakeStock Canada-Muskoka-WWA Worlds trip right now. I get to be home for two and a half days, and then I'm heading out to Mexico with Byerly for a few days. Always excited to go on trips with Scott!
WW: Anyone out there you would like to give a shout-out to?
KR: Always! Brian and Brad at Nautique, Moody and Shane at O'Neill, Rob at Roswell, Scott at Anarchy, Byerly and Butch at Byerly Boards, Brett at CTI, Craig at Rockstar, Wife Kate, Travis and Murray at The Boarding School, Bisch, Mom and Dad, WakeWorld, Thanks!