Ben Horan Interview
by David Hanson
Wakeskating tricks are all built off of certain fundamentals, but because of how young it is, many things skateboarders have been doing for years haven’t even been explored yet. Slowly but surely, that stuff in coming into wakeskating, and the truth is, Ben Horan is the one bringing it.
Ben has way more “skate-like” fundamentals under his belt than the majority of wakeskaters and he is bringing a whole different style to the sport. He defines “skateboard on the water,” whether it’s flicking kickflips off rails, nollieing off of noseslides, and doing legit bluntslides and other lock-in tricks. The kid literally does not understand how people can not flick their flip tricks. For that reason he is redefining what good wakeskating should look like.
AW: First and foremost, why is winching better than riding behind a boat?
BH: Winching is better than riding behind the boat because– well there’s so many reasons. I’m gonna go ahead and go with the cash for the number one reason. I just don’t have that much money, or any money at all. Number two reason is winching is just all in all better and number three, it’s more of the equivalent of going to a street spot with your buddies. We go out and search for spots. You actually do something to ride, you don’t just go get gas in a boat and ride a wake. That gets boring. You do so much winching, and you get so much more out of it.
AW: What’s the winching scene like your hometown?
BH: Winching in my hometown isn’t that great except for I am getting one of the greatest pool gaps ever at my house, which is going to be ready May 24. We’re having a winch jam at my place, the Nike Raging Pull.
AW: Where do you normally winch?
BH: Well, around where I live I can’t really winch because I don’t have anyone to winch with, but the scene in Jacksonville is really good. My friend Tyler Mangus lives there and he’s a super cool kid. There are a lot of good spots and it’s a lot better than the Georgia ones.
AW: Who else do you usually ride with?
BH: I’ve been riding with Andrew Pastura a lot lately. Dave Hanson and the Scene One guys for their little video coming up called Fun Boots, that’s been fun. Ha. I also do a lot of riding with Brandon Rau– he’s the man. I ride with Nick and Matt a lot, and Reed Hansen. I don’t really wanna sound like I’m name dropping though.
AW: It’s cool. You’re kinda big time. It also seems like you can make anything out of anything. Anyone ever call you McGuyver?
BH: Never gotten a McGuvver comment, but I did get, “well Ben, you’re a crafty little engineer, aren’t you?” I don’t remember who said that though…
AW: What’s the most useful random creation you’ve come up with?
BH: I just put an engine on this three-wheeled tricycle I have, that’s pretty much the most useful invention I’ve made lately.
AW: What about the least useful?
BH: A hydrofoil for my wakeskate. It’s like an air-chair thingy on the bottom. Me and my friend welded one. It works fine, but it’s not as cool as we thought it was going to be. You can ride, but that’s about it.
AW: What is your favorite thing about wakeskating?
BH: My favorite thing about wakeskating is just being able to skateboard on the water and not sweat my balls off.
AW: Be honest, do you like skateboarding or wakeskating better? Why?
BH: Skateboarding. Cause it’s my whole entire life. I based my life on skateboarding.
AW: If someone came up to you tomorrow and offered you a skateboarding contract, but you were never allowed to wakeskate again, would you take it?
BH: No comment.
AW: How did you get into wakeskating initially?
BH: This is a good story! I bought an Aqua East wakeskate. I rode it like twice, didn’t know how to do it or what it was. I didn’t know it was like skateboarding and I didn’t really like it. So I just kept wakeboarding on this Walmart wakeboard I had. It was made like a knee board—really thick with foam. It never worked, I couldn’t do any tricks behind it– just rode it and skied. Then the shop in Jacksonville called All Wet Sports, we went to it one day and there happened to be a clinic the following weekend. It was Joshua Steele, Thomas Horrell, George Daniels and Clint Tomkins running the clinic. I didn’t know who any of those people were and I was just like, oh cool, a clinic. Professionals are going to be in town? I didn’t even really know that they were wakeskaters until I got there.
I brought my piece of shit wakeboard and I’d never even ridden behind a wakeboard boat. Joshua Steele rode first and I was like, oh cool. It’s wakeboarding without straps, cool. Then Thomas rode and he did like 3 shuv and all the tricks that Thomas has got that are like flawless and pretty much like skateboarding and I was blown away. It was like skateboarding on water. It was awesome. Then George rode and killed it and then Clint rode and killed it too and I was just like “holy shit!” I didn’t know that’s what wakeskating was, and pretty much ever since then I haven’t really wakeboarded at all.
Actually, at that clinic I was like, “hey Thomas, you think I could try this wakeboard behind the boat later?” I had never ridden behind a boat so I just wanted to try it. He looked at me and he said, “Ben, we came here to wakeskate.” That is still in my head, it’s so crazy that he said that to me and ever since then I’ve pretty much wakeskated.
AW: How has your skateboarding helped your ability to wakeskate?
BH: I don’t know how to do the tricks any other way. When I do my flip tricks, it’s just what I did on my skateboard. I’ve seen people do kickflips how they do them, and it’s just not how I do a trick. I spent almost the whole summer learning how to kickflip like I did on a skateboard and I now I am really glad that I wasn’t lazy and just kind of did it the lazy way.
AW: How long have you lived in Georgia? Where did you live before that?
BH: I’ve lived in Georgia for 11 or 12 years now and before that I lived in Bakersfield, CA, which was pretty cool. The first time I ever wakeboarded was in Bakersfield. I don’t even know how old I was but the wakeboard was some pink surfboard-looking one. It was pretty funny.
AW: Do you have good stories about growing up skateboarding in Nahunta? I heard it involved hopping trains like a hobo?
BH: That was actually in Waycross, which is like 15 minutes away. There’s this place in a train yard, it was like a mile long of concrete. It was this old thing that burnt down and me and my friend Jared build ledges and other stuff to skate on. We would always drive to the train yard and skate there to warm up. Then to go to other skatespots we would just hop on the train and ride the train into town. The train would only go like 20 miles an hour cause it was in the train yard. We would ride the train to like, Wendy’s, to go get something to eat and then ride it back.
AW: Wendy’s, huh? What’s up with you and fast food?
BH: Fast food is really bad, really bad for you. I eat it all the time. I don’t even know how many times I eat Burger King a week. It really sucks. It can ruin your life.
AW: With all the traveling you’ve been doing lately, are you starting to develop a taste for the finer things?
BH: A little bit. My favorite place to eat when I am traveling is this place in Portland, OR called Montage. It’s like a macaroni house situation. It’s pretty much my favorite place in America to eat. Do you think you could ship me some Old Mac?
AW: Ha, ok. So from food to fashion, you are pretty much a wakeskate fashion icon. Any tips for someone trying to make a perfect tie-dye shirt?
BH: Don’t try to hard. That always ruins it. If you try to hard and try to make the best tie-dye shirt is just doesn’t work. It’s tie-dye, you just gotta start throwing shit at the shirt. Just throw random ass colors at there, don’t try and get all creative. The less you try the better it will come out.
AW: In your experience, which colors work best?
BH: I would say purple and black, those two colors go together really well. Also, turquoise and green are really good too.
AW: What trick needs to be done on a wakeskate that hasn’t yet?
BH: There are tricks that are going to be done really soon, and if not, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. Kickflip back lip on a pool gap handrail. There’s no reason that’s not gonna be done by the end of the year. Kickflip noseslides, And a trick that I want to get that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is backside tailslide, back big spin out on a flat bar.
AW: Any tricks do people do that should never be done again?
BH: There are no tricks that shouldn’t be done because wakeskating is so immature now that there are so many tricks that I consider dork tricks that I do all the time for fun. Same with skateboarding, there are so many dork tricks that I do for fun because I am out dorking around.
AW: What is your position on the proper way to do a backside big spin?
BH: I personally like the full 360 shuv, 180 all one motion. Nothing against the shuv catch backside 180. That trick looks really sick; Kyle Hyams kills it. I don’t really care to see anyone else besides Kyle Hyams do it because he does it so good. But I personally like to do the full 360 shuv and the 180 in one motion.
AW: What do you think makes a solid video part?
BH: Personally I think I solid video part pretty much is grounded on doing good technical flip tricks, but I don’t know. I personally don’t want to have another video part this isn’t all winch. I think an all winch part is better than having a montage section of you riding boat, jetski and all the different things. But I guess a solid video part would be just good rail section and some good lines behind the Seadoo.
AW: What do you think it’s going to take for wakeskating to grow? Do you think it’s going in the right direction?
BH: Wakeskating is going in the right direction. I think wakeskating is doing awesome right not. It’s not blowing up super fast, it’s getting there at a nice steady pace. I think every thing seems to be going the right way.
AW: Oh yeah, hype up your upcoming event some more…What is it and why should we care?
BH: The Nike 6.0 Raging Pull at my house. I think it is going to be the best pool gap situation in wakeskating. It’s going to be a super mellow drop, maybe four to five feet, really good long pool, with good hubba ledges on each side and a solid hand rail in the middle with a good 20 feet between that and the ledges to do tricks into the pool. That’s all it really takes, is for it to be simple, instead of building some gigantic roller coaster wakeboard pool gap that’s retarded and you can’t even do a trick out of it. The date is May 24, 2008. It’s from 12-5, but who cares. Just come whenever you want in the morning and leave whenever you want at night. You can even camp and leave on Sunday, but we have stuff to do on Sunday night so we’ll be kicking everyone out!
AW: Ok now give thanks.
BH: I want to thank Mikey T, my TM Silas, jj, mm, br, rh, dh, ar, ap, dh, bg, jk, mh, dn, tm, kh, wh, rh, kh, dh, oh yeah and Nike 6.0, Oak, Helium, VonZipper, Active Water Sports, Aacadia.com, and people who help me out all the time!