MAY 2019 | Twinning – Brandon & Josh Harris
Words & Photos: Jeff Mathis
The chance of having identical twins is about 0.45%. The chance of both of them growing up to be able to wakeboard really well is probably a lot slimmer, but that didn’t stop now 19-year-olds Brandon and Josh Harris from taking to the water and ripping. On any given day, they can be found out at the Orlando Watersports Complex taking different lines and showing their creativity in every lap. When they’re not there, they’ll be out at Lake Ronix setting up new and ridiculous hits that would leave the average rider shaking in their boots. Pun intended.
Most riders wouldn’t be too happy to share the spotlight, but Brandon and Josh, aka “the Twins”, thrive off of it. Always having someone to bounce ideas off of and push each other has fueled the fire for these dudes to go from unknown cable rats to two of cable’s rising stars, in a relatively short amount of time. They both eat, sleep, and breath wake, and both have no signs of slowing down anytime soon. So get to know Brandon and Josh, because we know that you’ll be seeing plenty more of them in the future.
Younger brother Brandon Harris making the rounds at Lake Ronix
Alliance: Yo dudes! Let’s start this out simple. Where are you both from and how did you get into wakeboarding? Who started riding first?
Brandon: We’re both from Atlanta, actually. We moved down to Orlando when we were around three years old and started riding when we were 16. We both started riding at the same time so I’m not sure who actually rode first, honestly.
Josh: We always saw OWC when we were growing up but never went because we didn’t have the money to afford a board and a pass. Plus, we were so busy with school and soccer that we just couldn’t really find the time to get over there and try it.
Brandon: We had a friend with a boat, but all we ever did behind it was tube *laughs*. He had a wakeskate too, so we would just jump on that thing and send it into the wake or whip into some rollers on it.
Alliance: How big were you guys into soccer?
Brandon: We got into it super young because our dad was a coach. We played up until junior year of high school. We got asked to try out for the varsity our senior year but turned them down because we were heavy into wakeboarding by then.
Josh: Yeah, we’d skip out on practice to go ride *laughs*. We just weren’t into it anymore and it’s so difficult to make it in soccer, honestly. We probably weren’t going to get any scholarships so we just decided to focus on wake.
Same same, but different
Alliance: Was that kind of the plan? To go to college with a scholarship and everything?
Brandon: Basically. I never expected it to take off for me because I saw my friends who were more talented not being able to get athletic scholarships either. I was hoping for somewhat of an educational scholarship, if anything. We ended up going to Valencia Community College because that was the best fit for what we wanted to do with our wakeboarding.
Josh: Yeah, after our first semester, we had to take online classes because we were constantly travelling for wake. We missed our first finals because we were out of the country competing in Brazil *laughs*. But come on, we were getting flown out to compete at one of the raddest parks (Sunset Wake Park) so we had to do it!
Alliance: I’ve gotta ask because even I don’t know. Who’s the older of the two of you?
Brandon: Josh is by one whole minute actually.
Josh: Yep, sixty seconds!
Alliance: Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s really get into it. You guys were pretty unheard of up until the last couple seasons, but with your unique styles, solid work ethic, and video parts, you’re starting to get more and more recognition. What’s helped get you two to the point you are today? What do you plan on doing to keep that momentum going?
Brandon: A big part is each other, for sure. We really play off each other. I’d do something and then Josh would want to top it and so on. It started off like that and honestly, it’s stayed that way through the years.
Josh: On top of that, our parents definitely helped us along the way. Obviously, a huge part is the competition we have between ourselves but without our parents then we definitely wouldn’t be where we are today. I mean, even our friend’s parents helped us by getting us our first life jackets back in the day *laughs*.
Brandon: Once we got the vests, we started going to happy hour at OWC and just renting the rest of the gear. It was like $60 a week to do that so we started saving up to get our own gear and a pass.
They might be more rail-focused but the boys can still send it off the kickers
Alliance: Do you guys always travel together? Where is the coolest place you have been to ride?
Brandon: Yeah, pretty much. My favorite has been Bali when we were out there for Plastic Playground last season. It’s a whole different world there. You feel so secluded from everything. You can go on the other side of the island and it feels like a whole different spot. It’s awesome.
Josh: It was also cool to see a different culture and how people live there compared to the U.S. I mean, anywhere we go, I love to meet the locals and see what makes up their daily lives. They could be the complete opposite of ours but they enjoy the same thing we do, which makes you feel a connection.
Alliance: Did you guys get to surf while you were there?
Brandon: Yeah, it’s scary as shit *laughs*. Like 8-foot faces. I dropped into a good wave but got absolutely wrecked.
Josh: Just getting past the break is ridiculous. You just want to rest for like 10 minutes once you’re out there. It’s hectic!
Alliance: Did anything crazy happen while you were there?
Brandon: Yeah, I got worked on one of the scooters. We were following Victor Salmon around and he lives in Thailand, so he’s got tons of experience on those things so he’s just weaving in and out of traffic and we’re just trying to keep up. The drivers out there are nuts so it makes it even more sketchy.
Josh: I was out in front and I look back to see this dude pull out in front of Brandon and he just full on t-boned him. Luckily we weren’t going too fast and he was fine, but I whipped around to make sure and by the time I got there, the dude had already bailed *laughs*. We were both pissed but just glad we didn’t have to go to the hospital because they’re not too nice there.
How many ways can you grab a front lip?
Alliance: What’s a typical day in the life for both of you?
Brandon: Wake up, go ride, work a little bit, maybe ride after if there’s time? *laughs*
Josh: Basically. We try to get in as much water time as possible but if we’re not riding, we’re either working with the Step Up crew or out at Lake Ronix. There’s always something to do out there.
Alliance: How long have you guys been with Ronix?
Brandon: They picked us up like the end of 2016 I think? They needed riders to test boards basically, so we started doing R&D with them.
Josh: Yeah, we were stoked because we were getting free boards and they started letting us come out to Lake Ronix, which was awesome.
Brandon: We weren’t even that good at that point, or I didn’t think so, but they were stoked because we were riding all the time and giving them a lot of feedback for the boards and everything.
Josh: Since then though, they’ve put us on the pro team for 2019 and we’re stoked!
Alliance: You guys were a part of our “Cable Rats 2 Boat Jocks” contest last year. Was that your first time behind the boat? Any plans on getting more into it?
Brandon: We had stood up behind a boat but that was the first time ever hitting a legit wake, really. It was fun as shit *laughs*.
Josh: Oh hell yeah, I’m down *laughs*!
Alliance: You guys seemed to be all over the contest scene in 2018. What contests did you compete in? What was the highlight of the season?
Brandon: How did it start? Yardsale?
Josh: Yeah. That wasn’t my highlight though. I blew it there …
Brandon: No, I did too, but that was the start of the season *laughs*. Yeah, it started at Yardsale and ended with the contest in Brazil. As a highlight, my best finish was 3rd at the Shark Wake Park Open which set me up pretty well in the WBWS standings.
Josh: We hit all the Plastic Playground stops (UK, Bali, Thailand) which were super fun. There were a lot of riders for those stops, too. Like 60+ riders for each stop. We also hit Nationals at The Quarry and Worlds in Mexico. I ended up taking 5th in features at Nationals so that was my top finish.
Thinking up new lines takes a little time
Alliance: You guys help out with the Step Up Productions rail jams, right? What’s that experience like?
Brandon: It’s awesome. We work with them on the rail jams when those are going on during the season but they have other work to do at bars setting up stages and stuff like that so it’s a little more consistent.
Josh: Yeah, Ryan Davis is the guy who runs it and he used to be a pro rider so he knows what’s up. He had a solid crew back when it was starting up, dudes like Kyle Alberts, and now he’s more of a behind the scenes guy.
Alliance: What are your plans for the 2019 season?
Brandon: Travel and hit up as many contests as we can. We’re trying to figure out the Liquid Force cable series now but I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to hit all of them. We have a Step Up job in Chicago so that should work out, and Terminus isn’t too far, but I don’t know if we’ll make it to the one in Cali.
Josh: Definitely hitting the Plastic stop at Liquid Leisure and going to try to make it to the Tomar Pro in Portugal, but still trying to figure that one out. We missed it last year, which sucks because that contest looked like the coolest one all year.
Josh with his own front lip grab variation
Alliance: Who are some of your influences? On and off the water.
Brandon: When we were watching old videos, Aaron Rathy was always someone who we watched for his style. Daniel Grant because he’s insane. He gave us a lot of inspiration when we were first starting and still does.
Josh: A lot of our friends influence us too. Pedro Caldas, Conrad McIntosh, and Andrew Watson are a few that really helped us out. Especially having a crew to roll with to contests and stuff as well. That made our parents a lot happier, too *laughs* – that we had friends going to all these different places.
Brandon: And back when we first started riding, Yonel and Julian Cohen were still big into it so we were riding with them all the time. We were always playing “follow the leader” on the cable which progressed us without even realizing it.
Alliance: Now I want to do something a little different. It’s lightning round time! I want you to say the first thing that pops into your head to see if you guys have “twin ESP” or not. Ready?
Brandon: Let’s go!
Josh: *laughs* Yeah!
Alliance: Cable park.
Josh: Mac ‘n cheese.
Alliance: Wakeboard trick.
Josh: Back 9
Alliance: Wake film.
Brandon: Coalition … or Debut, I can’t decide…
Alliance: Video games.
Brandon: Call of Duty.
Josh: Call of Duty.
Alliance: Wake legend.
Brandon: Who else but Vandall? Watching him riding when we first started inspired us a lot.
Josh: Randall for sure!
Poppin’ through the clouds
Alliance: Five out of eight … not too shabby! Now back to our regularly scheduled program … What keeps you guys motivated to ride? Is there still a sense of sibling rivalry?
Brandon: Oh for sure. We both love it so much so it’s more just to keep ourselves not bored *laughs*. And having a park like OWC that doesn’t change the set up much, to the point where we’re really looking for new lines and new ways to hit rails – that really helps with creativity when we go to other parks. We try to look at lines differently than another rider would.
Josh: Definitely. We really want to have a hand in changing how people look at the sport, too. Cable is such a big force in wakeboarding now and it lets people who would never have the opportunity to ride get on the water without having to have a boat. As long as cables keep popping up and more and more people are getting into it, I think that’s the right direction.
Doubles at the Dubs
Alliance: What else do you two get into when you’re not riding a board?
Brandon: Watch videos, edit videos, skate some, hang with friends, and play some soccer every once in a while.
Josh: Yeah, it always feels good to get back into soccer. Hit up a little indoor spot and play a pickup game every once in a while. We definitely miss it *laughs*.
Alliance: Well, thanks for your time dudes. Are there any parting words you want to leave us with?
Brandon: Just really a huge shout out to our sponsors, Ronix and Billabong, and we’re going to keep pushing and putting out as much content as we can.
Josh: Yeah, definitely a big thanks to Ronix, Billabong, our friends, and family. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today!
First cover in the books, more to come