1. How long have you been waveskiing, and how did you get into it/who influenced you?
15years ago I waveskied when I was in high school on Maui . We would ride the old Shane skis in front of our house because the reef was too shallow to allow for a decent wave come through. We would also fish and dive off of them a lot but It wasn’t until 7 years later when I was approached by Roy Scafidi and Rod Michaels @ Santa Cruz Steamer Lane . At the time I was surf kayaking a bunch and had no interest in becoming a waveskier. It was really cool how it happened Rod Michaels had been talking with Roy on how he can help pump up the growth of the sport. Rod asked Roy to find a young paddler showing promise and that he wanted to sponsor him. Roy asked me if I would be interested which then lead to a exciting meeting with Rod Michaels and Roy Scaffidi. They sent me home with a sweet High Performace ski. I remember walking down the boardwalk @ Steamers with the feeling that wow this feels a whole lot more sexier than my Surf Kayak being carried under my arm. It wasn’t until this time that I put the 2 and 2 together that this was a similar craft to the old square reef scratched vessels my friends and I used to paddle in Hawaii . I road my first session on it @ St. Anns and never looked back. I have Rod Michaels to thank for the love I have found for waveskiing.
2. What’s your favorite aspect of waveski surfing?
Favorite aspect of wavesing is that we are different. I really love to ride a lot of different surf crafts and since waveski is drastically different to other board sports it feels cool to be expressing ourselves differently. You know we must really love this sport to continue to do it since we are subjected to the bad vibes of the other surfers. It basically comes down to human nature I think, people fear whats different.
3. Talk a little about your striding, how did you get started with it, etc.
Striding I think has been the most exciting thing for me in waveski because it no longer is just a waveski. It’s a everything craft you can waveski on it and you can stand up surf on it. It also really mellows down a angry group of boardies. I just started to do it when I was getting at a stale point in wavesking.
4. What’s your favorite US break?
International break? My Favorite Surf spot is in a unmentionable area of Central California and my favorite international break would be somewhere Imbituba, muita bom
5. For those who haven’t seen Gateway to Sorga, talk a little about the Mentawais trip in 07, and what it was like surfing with Mathieu, Caro, Rees and Khane Duncan, Malan, Xaver, etc.
Absolutly amazing these people are on a whole other level of waveski riding. I was telling someone if that trip was a contest I would have taken last place. Despite being some of the craziest surfers I have ever witness charging they were all a very cohesive group all very giving with their knowledge of waveski and life for that matter. I definitely feel like that trip made a life long friendship with the whole crew.
6. What board(s) are you riding and why do you like it/them? Do you have different boards for different conditions?
I think I have about 20 waveskis in my garage and those are made up of 6 different MFG of waveskis. Its really been a exciting time for me though ever since the Mentawaiis Gateway to Sorga trip because I have been riding a Wavemaster board that Rees Duncan gave to me. This is a really sweet board that challenges me and at the same time is allowing me to pull off
stuff I havent’ done before. This board I was given has some history. He won the NZ worlds and several Oz titles on this very board. The other MFG of boards I have are Dekka, Island , Tsunami, Gee & Shane. I think its important to try everything and see whats best for you.
7. What else do you do for fun? Any other sports or hobbies? I think I read somewhere you were into reptiles (I have a bunch myself).
I also love to surf, photo and video, Trumpet, Guitar, Drums, Ukelele, Winch, hydrofoil, wake surf and pretty much anything else that has to do with water.
8. How about 3 tips to help newer waveskiers get better?
Make sure you have a big enough board so you don’t discourage yourself off the start. Try and watch as much footage of the other countries around the worlds riders. Develop relationships with other waveskiers around the world and ask a lot of questions but then figure out what works best for you.
9. How about 3 competition tips/strategies?
1. Have fun.
2. Treat each heat as its just another day wavesking .
3. Go Hard.
10. The future of the sport is with the younger set, as we all saw in Reunion . What single thing do you think might open the sport up to younger potential waveskiers here in the states?
Try and get footage and press releases into surfing publications and surf industries companies. Bring youngstas from other countries and show an expression session, get more sponsorship, get more striding boards out there so they can have the best of both worlds. Have your cake and eat it too.
11. What advice would you give to help all waveskiers promote our sport here in the States?
Keep it positive and be respectful. Learn your local surf community, what to do and don’t and how to fit in this community. LEARN & PRACTICE SURFERS LAW AT ALL TIMES
*** THE USWA would like to thank Billy for conducting this first Association Blog Interview! Many many thanks to Fletcher Burton for being our first subject (and an all-around asset to the sport in too many ways to mention here)! Mahalo!
Bonus Vid: Fletcher talking more about waveskiing