Today we are catching up with one of the most, if not the most, technical boat riders to come from the west coast, Tony Carroll. Tony will do a really hard trick so perfectly that you find yourself asking others in the boat if that is really what you just saw. Not only can Tony mobe 5 just about any invert, but he makes it look damn good too. He has been riding with some of the best wakeboarders in the world over in Florida and has really shown his presence over the past few years. But what has Tony been up to lately? I recently got to sit down with Tony and find out first hand where he has been and what he plans to do. So sit down and relax with Antonio Carroll.
WW: Tony, most know you are a Nor Cal native, but where are you hanging your hat these days?
TC: I'm originally from Fresno, California, but as of the past eight months I've been moving around the Orlando area. For a while I was living at Aaron Rathy’s place in Clermont and recently moved in with some friends on my favorite lake, Lake Irma.
WW: For how many years have you been wakeboarding now?
TC: I started when I was 13 and I'm eight days away from my 23rd birthday, so if my math is correct I've been riding for 10 years now.
WW: What actually got you into wakeboarding?
TC: It was totally random. It was the last day of school before summer and some kid asked if anyone wanted to go wakeboarding and I said yes…followed by, "What's wakeboarding?" We exchanged numbers and I really didn't think he'd ever call. About a month later I got a call asking if I would like to spend the weekend out on the lake with his family. It was good timing because it was my parent’s wedding anniversary that weekend, so my choices were lake or grandparents...easy choice, lake. I got up my first try and asked how to jump. "You kind of just do it" was the answer I got. And the rest is history I guess.
WW: Were you into any other sports at that time?
TC: For sure. I had my hand in a little of everything. Our football team was undefeated (I played outside linebacker, offensive tight end), I was district champ in wrestling and our volleyball team was one of the best.
WW: So whose boat in Florida would we most likely find you in?
TC: I ride with three people pretty evenly; Steel Lafferty, Gunnar Shuler and Pierce Homsey. They have some pretty mackin’ wakes!
WW: Can you walk us through a normal day in your life right now?
TC: Lately I've been having my alarm go off at 9:00, rolling over and hitting my coffee machine for a nice cup of joe, then hopping on my spin bike for a half hour. I'll juice some vegetables and fruits and it's off to the cable or out on the boat…sometimes both. I'll get home, make some chicken and pasta, because that's all I know how to make, and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
WW: Trying any new tricks this off season?
TC: For the most part no. I'm going to work on a lot of little things this off season that will help me progress easier down the road. I'm also going to try and do some of the same tricks a bit differently, add some of my own style to things.
WW: What are your goals for the upcoming 2012 season?
TC: So far every year has been the best of my life. One after another they just keep getting better, from the people I meet to the places I go. My riding and understanding of the sport keeps growing. I've done things I never thought I'd be able to do on a wakeboard, standing on the dock next to the guys I try to be like, fighting for a spot in the finals. My goals for 2012 are like any other year, become better on and off the water.
WW: Do you have a favorite rider that you look at for inspiration?
TC: That's a hard one. There are so many guys I look up to. Everyone has something they do that just blows my mind. Ben Greenwood has been a favorite of mine since The Butter Effect came out. I've been able to meet and hang out with him multiple times and he’s just a really cool down to earth guy. Rusty is another one that I look up to because of how committed he is. He knows what he wants and will work as hard as he can to get it. Right now I've been looking up to Kevin Henshaw with his insane rail riding and ability to see things in a way most don't. Some of the lines he takes at OWC are insane. Also, just the fact that most the stuff you see Henshaw riding he built himself. He's got crazy wood skills.
WW: What were you for Halloween this year?
TC: Woody from Toy Story
WW: What board are you riding these days?
TC: Hyperlite Franchise with AJ System boots.
WW: Are you riding for Hyperlite now or are you more of a free agent?
TC: This past season I was rocking #FreeAgent on Twitter (@YNOTwake follow me!) because I wanted to be able to find a board that I thought best fit the way I wanted to ride. I landed on the Franchise board and never looked back. Team manager Greg Nelson gave me a call after doing pretty well in the past couple Pro Tour stops. It was cool because he thought it was a pretty cool thing me riding for myself and no one pressuring me to do anything I didn't want to. After talking a few more times and working some things out at Expo we decided it would be a good fit. I am happy to say that I do ride for Hyperlite now.
WW: What is your favorite trick to do right now?
TC: Over the years I have had many favorite tricks…always tricks I personally thought were cool but usually couldn't do. Right now my favorite would have to be a heelside backside 540 with an early indy grab. I try and do a poked indy out the back making it look like I'm only going to do a 180, then take it to 5. Hit my first one shooting with Norbi for a video on iWake (see below).
WW: Taken any hard crashes lately?
TC: Not that I can remember, haha!
WW: Uh oh, that might not be good then! What is the biggest difference between riding in California and riding in Florida?
TC: In California you go out on the boat with a group of people, everyone rides and you go home. It's more of an all day thing. In Florida a lot of the times it’s just you and one other person. Go out, each take a set, then go get some food and do it again. Access to lakes in Florida is a lot easier than Cali. You spend a lot less time on the water each day.
WW: So which state do you prefer?
TC: Haha, don't ask me that! In my opinion, the Delta is the best place to ride. Endless waterways and you can always find good water. But right now it’s the middle of November and I'm sitting on my dock in Florida, just took a boat set and am getting gas to take another, no wetsuit or top.
WW: Do you have any big travel plans coming up?
TC: Only one before Christmas. Going to Texas for a couple days to shoot for Epic Boats’ 2012 marketing.
WW: You have been riding for Epic Boats for a few years now. How are you liking the new boats?
TC: The new boats are insane. Pretty much every feature you need comes stock on the boat and everyone that works there is always down for a good time.
WW: What is the most important feature in a boat to you?
TC: That's a hard one. I'd say some sort of GPS cruise control or engine size.
WW: How often can we find you at a cable park?
TC: I've never really been a cable rider mainly because I couldn't afford it, but now that I have the whole Hyperlite thing going on, I get to ride OWC free. Now you can find me there most days of the week. The Henshaw rail is super fun!
WW: What gives you the drive to ride when you wake up every morning?
TC: Coffee, haha! Naw, I've always been pretty self-motivated. I just always want to get better. I can go ride and ride well, but I get bored if I do the same thing. I'm known for taking hard falls, but it’s because I can't end a set without trying a new trick or new grab.
WW: Would you like to thank anyone out there for being who you are today?
TC: There are way too many people I should thank. Mainly my mom and dad! They have been behind me through it all. We have never really had the money to do any of this, but somehow they make it happen for me. One time my dad got laid off and we went on the road riding wherever we could until we were bankrupt and he had to get a job (LOL). I love both of them so much.
Families that have accepted me into their homes like I was one of their own that I can't thank enough! The Arruda family, Twelker family, O-Town Watersports’ Glen and Melissa, Galotiore family and last, but not least, the Lafferty family. All families that have had me for more than a few extended stays throughout the years.
There are way too many people that need thanking, but you all know who you are and if you have helped me in the slightest way, I am so thankful for that! Thank you.
And my sponsors: Epic Boats, Hyperlite Wake Mfg, Zinka Sunscreen, Mystic Wetsuits and Stoke International Clothing.