JT: Well, my name is Johnny Tobaben and I am 18 years young. I am from Atlanta, Georgia and that’s where my family lives and where I live in the summertime, but, thankfully, I am able to spend my fall, winter and spring in Orlando Florida.
WW: So what’s your situation here in Orlando?
JT: I moved to Orlando to chase the dream of becoming a pro wakeboarder when I was 16. The day that I had to say goodbye to my parents was the day I learned how to put gas in my car, so living down here has been quite a learning experience. I have two roommates at the moment; one is your Performance right hand man, Adam Greer and the other is the godfather of wakeboard coaching, Mike Conner.
WW: How long have you been wakeboarding?
JT: Well, I started when I was seven and I am 18 now, so technically you could say 11 years, but I had a really bad accident when I was thirteen and pretty much had to start over again. When I had that accident, that’s what gave me drive to become a pro wakeboarder, so I have been riding seriously for four years.
WW: Can you take us through a normal day in your life right now?
JT: I wake up at about 7:00 every morning and make a delicious and nutritious breakfast. I love to cook and eat good food! I will normally make some eggs with a few onions in them then maybe a little bacon and put it all on a warm and toasty English muffin. After breakfast I will do a couple hours of schoolwork (not my favorite part of the day). After my school work is done I will go and ride boat with one of my buddies whether it be my neighbor Collin Harrington on Clear Lake or my friend Hunter Stitch with the best wake in Orlando on Lake Conway. All the people down here are so cool. If I was to name everyone I ride with there would be no more room left on the page.
After the first set of the day I like to come home and do some work around the house, whether it be cutting the grass, cleaning my rims, shining up our stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or doing some laundry. After that’s done I will go take another set somewhere else. After the second set I like to finish the day off with some rails like The Projects or some cable riding like OWC or McCormick's in Tampa. Then I will make something really good for dinner like one of my favorite dishes, ceviche. After that’s done, I will go get a quick work out in at the gym and call it a day.
WW: What’s your current set up?
JT: 141 Marek with the black Murray boots.
WW: Do you have a favorite wakeboarder?
JT: That’s a tough question because I have so much respect for so many different riders out there. If I had to choose just one I still couldn’t even do that. In my opinion it’s a tie between Rusty Malinoski and Danny Harf. Rusty for riding with sheer POWER. It looks like a dump truck couldn’t push him over when he is riding. And Danny for how creative he his. I have seen him do things that I have never seen before.
WW: What’s your favorite trick to do right now?
JT: I would have to say an indy backside 180 out into the flats and land blind.
WW: Some may not know, but you competed on the Jr. Pro Men tour this year and made top 10. How does it feel making top 10?
JT: I feel very blessed. It has been my dream to make it on tour for a long time now. I hope to do better next year!
WW: Do you like all of the traveling to all of the tour stops?
JT: I love it! It is so cool seeing all of the different places and different faces. Now, I will say that I am not a big fan of having eight-hour-long layovers in airports (haha), but other than that I couldn’t be happier.
WW: Where is the coolest place wakeboarding has taken you?
JT: It is hard to name just one place because wakeboarding has taken me to so many beautiful places. But if I had to pick just one it would be Key Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. The place looks unbelievable! You look to your right and see lots of green. It looks like Gilligan's Island, but then you look to your left and there it is...one of the most breathtaking sights in the world...the city and bay of Miami! I feel like I am a star in a Miami Vice movie every time I am there.
WW: So I have Julian Cohen here sitting with me and I figured this would be a perfect time for a celebrity guest question. Julian wants to know how you go to the gym every day, but yet he still beats you in arm wrestling? Explain (haha).
JT: Well, I would like to clarify that. Julian did not beat me in arm wrestling. I have a problem with my right arm and that was killing me and my phone was ringing and I had to take the call (haha). I want a rematch!
WW: You turn on your iPod, what are the first five songs you listen to?
JT: Good question! I love music! My first song would definitely be Something by my boy Gucci Mane! Probably Gucci Mane-Gucci Bandanna, Gorilla Zoe-Iball, The Cool Kids-Basement Party, ATB-Rave Me, Jimmy Buffet-Son Of A Son Of A Sailor.
WW: Do you have a regular crew that you ride with?
JT: I am always trying to ride with new people, but I do have a few people that I ride with a lot - Hunter Stitch, Danny Thollander, Nick Jones, Collin Harrington, Keith Lyman, Kyle Evans, Rusty Malinoski, Julian Cohen and anyone else who wants to ride.
WW: Regular or goofy?
JT: Regular all the way every day!
WW: Cable riding is getting pretty big now and there happens to be a few cable parks in your area. Have you been jumping on the cable wagon at all or do you just keep your shredding behind the boat?
JT: Yes I have! I have been riding the cable a lot lately. I really think it's cool when someone can be extremely good at both boat and cable. I aspire to be like that one day. Two people who I really think do the definition of that are Nick Davies and Julian Cohen.
WW: Any memorable times or a funny story from out on the water you would like to share with the world of wake?
JT: There are so many it’s really hard to pick just one. I guess one of my favorite days out on the lake would have been this summer in Georgia on my home lake, Lake Lanier. It was my 18th birthday. It couldn’t have been a prettier day outside. It was me, two of my boys, Cori and Robert, and about 15 beautiful girls. I was happy sailor.
WW: So Johnny, word on the street is that you can surf some pretty big waves. Is this true?
JT: I think this is a tough question because everyone's idea of "big" is a little different. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to surf a wave that was 20 feet tall on the face. I thought that was pretty big. It was the hardest paddle ever to get out to the line up. But surfing is my true love. The bigger the wave the better!
WW: Where is your favorite place to surf?
JT: That’s a tough one, but I'd have to say that it would be either Makha on the west shore of Oahu, Hawaii or Hermosa in Jaco Costa Rica.
WW: Are there any other sports you like to do?
JT: Surfing is my favorite, but, honestly, I like anything that gives me a natural adrenaline rush.
WW: Got any new years resolutions?
JT: Same as it always is...do better than I did last year in everything!
WW: Where would you like to see your self five years from now?
JT: I see myself doing really well on the PWT and also trying to push the sport in different directions that it has never gone before. Owning my own house. I also see myself surfing giant waves with Laird Hamilton at Jaws in Maui, Hawaii. That's my true dream.
WW: Anyone you would like to thank or send a shout out to?
JT: Yes there are lots of people I would like to thank! The first would be God. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be here. I’m so grateful for the life that he has blessed me with. My mom and dad. They have taught me so much and also my grandparents and the rest of my family. All my awesome friends! And, of course, all my amazing sponsors; Hyperlite, Body Glove, Anarchy Eyewear and Stoke Clothing. I’m so stoked about the people in my life and the things I get to do!