Interview: Kuri Wickliffe

Being surrounded by a family of keen social skiers since he can remember, this 18-year-old’s wakeboarding career has evolved from humble beginnings. After years of riding behind his father’s fishing boat, and riding under the guidance of the old Western Australian crew, Kuri’s focus is set on encouraging the right attitude amongst the young wakeboarding community – despite being just a grom himself.

Take us back to the start Kuri…
My family have been social skiers for as long as I can remember, usually at one of the dams down south. We used to ski and tube behind an old tri-hull fishing boat dad bought from a paddock. Then one Christmas, my older brother got a wakeboard and I kinda followed suit, having a ride every now and then.

We shifted from riding at the dams to Bonneys Ski Park. My brother started competing and we got involved with some older crew, and from there it was all pretty much just wakeboarding for us.

The older crew – Croc, Shagga, Big Russ, Slim and all the others – had a huge impact on me, getting me into riding. They taught me how to wakeboard, and also how to handle myself. The guidance from those guys kept my head on straight. It was priceless for me.

Now that they’ve slowly left the scene, I’m trying to carry on that same type of influence to the younger guys now, even though I’m still a grom myself.

What’s it like wakeboarding in WA?
The scene is really fun and growing real quick. There are always fresh faces around and the variety at comps is awesome. There have been a couple of rounds that have been done in a different format too. The Action Sports Games that happened in March was huge for wakeboarding in WA as well, and brought a professional competition to thousands of people.

I love WA and the wakeboard division – it’s just really carefree and there are always real tight knit groups to ride with. We may not be the biggest of states, but it most definitely brings the state together.

And what does an ideal day on the water consist of?
Basically it would be riding with a good crew and family all day, hitting rails, riding boat and winching. Then heading out somewhere with mates at night is a must.

What’s you favorite place to shred?
I’d have to say Waroona. It’s about two hours south of the city and has two of the most fun spots; the dam and the ditch. We rent the oldest heritage listed house in town, dubbed the Farmhouse, on the same property.

The ditch is basically a long ditch with a few rails and kickers in it, where we tow with a car. We’ve spent countless days there. The dam is about 10 minutes up in the hills as well. Usually in summer, we’d ride there for the early morning set and head back into town. From there we basically go to the ditch for the rest of the day. Easily the best place to ride in WA for me.

Tell us about the crew you mostly ride with.
The main crew I ride with these days are Christian and Ben Robinson, Dylan Odorisio, and my brother Luke Wickliffe. They all push you in different ways – it’s really good.

Christian and Ben both have real good style and it just makes you want to try to do tricks a different way, and try to push your own style in different directions. Dylan and Luke are both great at pushing you to try new tricks for the first time, as well as making you want to take stuff bigger to the flats as well.

How would you describe your riding style?
In the past, I’d have called it fairly technical. But lately, I’ve been trying to add more flavour and variety in my tricks, and grab stuff differently and for longer.

Who do you look up to on the water?
Brenton Priestley and Chris O’Shea, just for having the best style out. Also Dean Smith, Keith Lyman and Randall Harris, just for how insanely big they go. It’s hard to pick one.

Where else in Austrlia have you been?
Wakeboarding has taken me all over Australia. It’s always fun riding in new locations with different people – it gets you pumped to ride. Renmark in South Australia has to be my favourite place I’ve ridden.

How do you get a cable fix without a cable park?
I certainly don’t get to ride cable as much as I’d like. But over the past year, I’ve had a couple of trips to Suncoast Cable and Penrith. Rails are one of my favourite parts of wakeboarding, so doing lap after lap at cable is the best.

What are you doing when you’re not on the water?
Either catching up with mates, going out, working, seeing the girlfriend, trying to skate or flat out with uni usually. I enjoy messing around with a bit of photography as well.

What are you favorite tricks?
Lately I’d have to say a lofty stalefish, or different batwing and cab glide variations.

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time trying to work on my style. I learnt a lot of technical stuff over the past couple of years, but lately I’ve taken a lot of influence from more stylish riders. Seeing guys like Chris O’Shea and Shawn Watson ride in real life this year has gotten me motivated to start to add some more variety to my riding and go bigger. So that’s basically what I’ve been working on. That, and getting tricks consistent.

Any shoutouts?
I’d like to thank Chris from Jetpilot and Adam from Hyperlite for supporting me heaps this season, as well as Greg and Jacqui from Unleashed Watersports for being there for me the past five years – really appreciate it. Also, I need to thank my parents, family, and the whole West Oz crew. Without them, I wouldn’t be riding.

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