The first time I met Tony was three years ago when I was in Australia for a CWB trip with Corey Bradley. The Iacconis opened up their home to Corey and I and we spent a couple days riding and hanging out at their house on Lake Macquarie. Tony was only 11 years old, but was already drawing some attention with his riding. The first time we went out on the lake with him he landed his first KGB, and then had it consistent in about 20 minutes. Pretty sick for an 11-year-old kid. While the Iacconis have opened up their doors to some of the best riders in the world, Tony has been taking notes. At 14 years old, he is a two-time World Champion, once in the Boys division and once in Jr. Men.
One thing that I quickly noticed about Tony and his family is that they love wakeboarding. Rob, Tony's dad, makes time to drive the boat any time someone wants to ride. If you’re at a contest in Australia, Rob is a familiar face either in the driver’s seat or judging the event. Tony has two younger sisters that also ride and compete. Even Tony's mom, Ungelina, gets out there and goes for a ride. They are true ambassadors of the sport in Australia.
Besides being an amazing talent on the water, Tony is one of the nicest, most polite kids you'll meet. He has a very calm demeanor off the water, which translates into a relaxed, effortless style on the water. There aren't a lot of kids his age that I would call to hang out with, but Tony is one of them. He's a great kid and an awesome rider. He has a bright and long future in wakeboarding and I hope that you all enjoy getting to know Tony as much as I have.
WW: Let's start out easy. How old are you and where are you from?
TI: I am 14 years of age and I am from a suburb in Newcastle called Warners Bay, the host of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest salt water lake.
WW: How did you get started in Wakeboarding?
TI: Dad was always into the boats he had many boats before I was born. Dad and a few of his mates one day saw that wakeboarding was the next best thing, so they bought a board and loved it. Our family and one other family decided to travel up to the Gold Coast on the east coast of Australia and see one of the major pro events.
Seeing the likes of Daniel Watkins, Brett Eisenhauer, Josh Sanders and Jeff Weatherall all riding, we decided that we were going to buy a wake boat. As soon as we got home we started searching all over the Internet to see which boat was the best for wakeboarding and which had the best wake. We then came across the MasterCraft X-Star. Dad and his mate then bought two black 2005 X-Stars. This boat stood out the most to us. Most pro wakeboarders say that the X-Star has the biggest, cleanest and best wake out there.
WW: Do you think that it’s easier or tougher to get involved in wakeboarding being from Australia?
TI: I guess it could be a little bit tougher because there are not as many wakeboarders here, but there are still a descent amount of wake boats here in Australia and there are plenty of waterways for everyone to get out there and enjoy the day. Over here we mostly ride on rivers where no matter which way the wind is blowing you always get a calm spot. Most of the rivers are usually pretty deep, so you can have a nice big wake.
WW: What do you think are the biggest differences between riding in Australia versus the USA?
TI: In the U.S. I find it is a little easier to ride because everyone’s boats are already in the water waiting for you to get in there and have a ride. Over here you always have to pull your boat out and wash it, drive it to the fuel (gas) station to chuck fuel in and then put your boat back in the water for some more sets. So it is a little harder because you have to tow your boat around anywhere you want to go for a ride.
WW: Australia has quite a few cable parks now. Do you enjoy riding cable as much as riding boat?
TI: I love riding cable. We now have four major cable parks here in Australia, all sponsored by Liquid Force. It is good to have a little change every now and then and ride a few sets at cable. It is great how now you have the two options to ride the cable or behind the boat. It will hopefully attract more people into our sport.
WW: Your dad just dug a two-tower cable lake not too far from your house. Do you plan on becoming a master of the rails?
TI: It’s awesome. It’s about a 20-minute drive from my house. Dad spent a lot of time working on it while I was away in the States. We have a few crazy ideas of some rails we will build. I will hopefully be riding our two-tower Go Ride linear cable system soon.
WW: Your whole family really enjoys wakeboarding. Does that make it more fun for you?
TI: Having the whole family enjoying wakeboarding is really awesome. On the weekends we all get out there and enjoy ourselves. Even my little sister gets into it. She started when she was three and has loved it ever since the first time she got up. My other sister, she is now 13, started when she was about eight or nine. She competes in most of the contests over here. Both my parents also do it. Dad competes in a lot of the Australian contests. He even throws in a sneaky back roll every now and then.
WW: I know from my experience how nice it is to have such supportive parents. Do you think that having that support from your folks has helped you progress your riding faster than it would without that support?
TI: My parents are awesome. They are extremely supportive with me and wakeboarding. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be traveling the world with wakeboarding. Dad is usually there with me at most of the contests I enter, so I am very lucky he can get the time off work and take me to all the places I want and need to go with wakeboarding. Mum is great. She is also there with me at the contests, but she also has the two little sisters too look after also, so it gets a bit difficult for her to come to every contest. But she does her best to try and come and I am very thankful to have my Mum and Dad as parents.
WW: You made your sister a pretty popular video on YouTube (over 21,000 views). Is she looking to get some revenge?
TI: Haha. That was a pretty gnarly edge she caught. I’m not too sure if she is looking for any revenge or not, but I’ll always have to keep my eye out whenever she is in the boat. Her clip made ESPN and a lot of the online wakeboarding sites.
WW: You have been coming to the USA for the past couple years to compete at Worlds. You have gotten a couple of World titles. Do you enjoy riding in contests?
TI: I have been to a few World Championships now. Not too long ago, in 2009, I entered the WWA World Championships in Orlando, Florida In the Boys 10/13 division and ended up winning my first world title. I was super pumped on that, so I decided to come back the next year in 2010 and ride up a division. I entered in the Jr. Men division. Being the youngest competitor in this division, I was a little nervous at the time. I went out here and rode how I normally ride and ended up winning my second world title. I was super duper stoked with the back to back world titles in both those divisions
WW: This year was your first year in the Jr. Pro Men division. What was it like being one of the youngest guys in that division?
TI: It was a really great experience stepping up and riding with the older guys. I have a lot more years to compete in the Jr. Pro Men division. I hope to make it up the ranks in the years coming along. I now know what I need to get up there and be competitive with all the guys and hopefully next year climb another step and get closer to winning the tour in years to come.
WW: You stayed in the USA for six weeks this year. Do you think that being over here for that amount of time and competing in more of the Jr. King of Wake events helps keep you motivated to progress?
TI: For sure. It has been awesome riding against all those boys. They are really killing it. I had the pleasure of staying with you and your family for six weeks while I was in Florida and riding every day. I also got to ride with the likes of Harley Clifford, Rusty Malinoski, Ben Greenwood, Steel Lafferty, Kyle Rattray and Aaron Rathy, just to name a few.
WW: You are still in school. Was it difficult to keep up your studies while you were in the USA? Was your school ok with you being gone that long?
TI: School is awesome with me and my wakeboarding. They are really supportive and give me as much time as I need for wakeboarding. It was difficult keeping up with my school work, but I got most of it done and still had a lot of time left over. Whenever I come back from a contest they like to put up on the notice board and their weekly newspaper how I did.
WW: Being able to ride every day here in Florida, do you feel you now have a jump start on the Australian season?
TI: Riding in the warmer water in Florida has been great. Here in Australia it is our winter when it’s your summer. When everyone over here is trying to ride in the winter and maintain all there tricks, you guys are learning new tricks and getting better. That is why a lot of the guys over here do the "endless summer." It is when us Australians spend our summer over here and riding, but when our winter comes along we move to Florida for about six months of the year until it starts getting warmer here in Australia.
WW: What are some of your plans for this Australian summer? Any new tricks you hope to land?
TI: This summer I will be doing the whole contest scene over here. Hopefully, I will be attending every contest that is on over here. I hope to learn a few mobe 5 variations and get a bit better at double ups and hope to land a few cool tricks off them. I will try and learn some new flat water tricks on our Go Ride cable system and hopefully take them to the big cable. Should be a fun season.
WW: What motivates or influences you the most to learn new tricks?
TI: Being out with your mates is always fun and motivates you to try new tricks. Having someone at the same skill level is always fun because you can push each other to try new things and it can kind of be like a little race to see who can land it first. That’s always a fun and motivating way to learn some new tricks.
WW: Who are your favorite riders to watch and why?
TI: I like to watch Harley Clifford because he makes the hardest tricks look so easy. Ben Greenwood because he is so stylish and makes everything look so steazy. Trevor Hansen because he has a lot of cool tricks, but has one of the coolest Pete Roses in wakeboarding. Dean Smith because he goes so big on some of the hardest tricks in wakeboarding and has no problem taking them way out into the flats.
WW: You have got a ton of fans and supporters out there. Who would you like to thank?
TI: I would like to thank every single one of my awesome sponsors who support me a bunch; Rockstar Energy Drink, Jetpilot Clothing, Liquid Force Wakeboards, MasterCraft Boats, Black Diamond Wakeboarding School, Switch Boardstore and Smith Optics. Trevor Hansen for showing me a great time while I was in the States this year. All my friends and competitors I have met through wakeboarding. But most of all, my extremely supportive parents who have helped me with everything since day one. Thank you very much WakeWorld for giving me a feature on your online site.