On Tour – Brenton Priestley
On Tour – Brenton Priestley
By Bradlee Rutledge
No f#&@s given. That might be the best way to describe Brenton Priestley, because he could seriously give zero of them in regards to what you or anybody else think of him. He is a dude who greets people by giving them the middle finger. He has most likely told you to F off and then proceeded to pour his drink on you. He has also probably pissed you off so badly you wanted to punch him, but he is laughing so hard it only pissed you off more, and probably made you laugh in return. It’s safe to say that Brenton Priestley is a unique breed all his own.
Want to know what makes you dislike BP even more? Deep down you probably want to be just like him. He tells you how it is and doesn’t care what you think. He parties harder than most people and has no problem admitting it. And he shreds on his wakeboard like nobody else. When I decided to go to Australia I knew that I had to meet up with Brenton, not just because we had hung out plenty of times before, but because I knew being with him in his homeland would reveal even more about what makes him tick. Upon landing in Brisbane, BP arrived in his brother’s ‘99 black Toyota Corolla and jumped out to greet me with an “Oi, c$*t” in typical Aussie fashion. When I got into the car there were so many old VB bottles in the passenger floorboard my feet couldn’t even touch the ground. “I’ve been having a good time…” BP explained laughing, “but my brother would kill me if he knew his car was this dirty!” More than anything he was amped to show me around and I was equally as excited to get to know Brenton even better. Over the course of a week I got to know not only BP the wakeboarder, but I got to known why BP is the way he is.
Brenton grew up with his older brother Dwayne, who had a lot of influence on him. DP and BP, as everyone calls them, were just like any other brothers; they did everything together no matter what it was. Chances are if you’re around BP when he gets into a storytelling mode (which is quite often) at least one story will involve his big brother. “I wouldn’t say me and my brother were competitive like most brothers growing up. We just did shit because we thought it was cool. We couldn’t care less if anyone was there watching or anything else.”
Brenton didn’t always grow up wakeboarding though. “I didn’t start riding until around 12 I think. It was never anything I took that serious until the first time I came to the States. I was learning to be a carpenter and was building houses, but after my first time in the States I knew that wakeboarding was something I wanted to take more serious. After that trip I would bust my ass working and building to save up money so I could come back to the States every year. I probably did that for four years until I started getting more coverage and started making a name for myself.” Even after wakeboarding turned into more than just something fun to do and show off to girls in the boat, BP didn’t change who he was.
“I would go and ride and be around wakeboarders for half the year, and when I came home my friends could give two shits if I was a pro wakeboarder. I think it’s helped me create my own style and kept me who I am because none of my friends know or care about wakeboarding back in Australia. They all come from a skate and surf background, so they see things differently. That’s why I always focused on style and stuff – because my friends will tell me how bad some tricks looked. Wakeboarders get so caught up in their world and don’t see how much having good style can get you rather than having the hardest tricks.”
This idea of style over tricks came up a lot over the week I spent with BP. Over the years a lot of Australian riders have been known for the volume of their bag of tricks, rather than their contents. When you have to live the endless summer and make a name for yourself on a Pro Tour that wasn’t known for being style focused, that’s understandable. The freeride opportunities weren’t there for some Aussies like they were for their North American counterparts. But that argument isn’t as valid these days, especially in the eyes of a rider like BP. “Wake dads over here only care about how young their kid is when he learned his first double or 1080. That same kid though probably can’t even do a method or grab his board at all.” Suffice it to say BP’s dad wasn’t a “wake dad.” But it’s this attitude that sets BP apart; he cares about how his riding looks and is portrayed in photos and video – something all pro riders should focus on more.
Of course, you can’t hang out with BP and not party… or talk about partying. I had to ask him if he parties as hard as people think he does. “I don’t party any harder than most wakeboarders out there. I’m just not afraid to admit it and show people the real me. So many riders put on these fronts that they wakeboard all the time and never party, even though you could see them downtown any night of the week. I just let people see the real me and if they don’t like it I don’t care. I’m not going to try and be someone I’m not just to make a sponsor happy because everyone knows how that person really is.”
Brenton and I spent a lot of time driving around Gold Coast, whether it was heading to hangout with the Australian legend Ike for a pontoon booze cruise, or searching for the next winch spot to hit. We also spent a few nights up at Mitch Langfield’s new property where BP and Mitch were preparing to install an HD Sesitec System 2.0. “This place is going to make me never want to leave Australia now. Having a 1,000-foot cable where we can build anything is a dream come true. Private cables like this are going to push rail riding in a direction it has never seen before. Kevin Henshaw built Area 52 and set the standard for what a private cable could be.” Unfortunately BP had to leave to come back to the US before the System was finished, so he will have to wait till the end of the year to ride it, but Mitch will be living at the property and with the help of local riders be able to build, ride and shoot whatever they want whenever they want.
One of the major things BP really wanted to do was go winching while we were there. We found so many untouched spots, but time was not on our side. We spent two days scouting and trying to hit various winch spots around Brisbane. “People don’t realize how much work goes into winching. Shredtown has been at the forefront of winching and doing things differently. So many wakeboarders are lazy and don’t want to put in the effort because they can go take a $200,000 boat out that is in their backyard. I obviously love to ride boat but if that’s all I did I would get so burned out.” In our two days we were able to hit one spot, but didn’t get any great shots of BP. That’s how it goes in the winching game, though. It just left him more determined to hit some other spots he’s had his eye on around Orlando… and to save the Brisbane spots for when he gets back.
When our week of hanging out came to an end I had a much greater appreciation of who Brenton is as both a person and wakeboarder – along with a lot more hilarious stories in the vault. More than anything though, I realized that Brenton is who he is, and that he would be that way with or without the endless summer lifestyle, pro model boards, life jacket, handle, and more. BP lives the life he wants and stays true to himself no matter what. Yes, he will probably offend you. Yes, he will definitely drink more beers than you. And yes, you will love him all the more for it. In a time where people seemingly change who they are on a dime in order to appeal to sponsors (or to not offend them), BP has never lost sight of who he is and what he stands for: riding a wakeboard like nobody else and having more fun than you.