“I think the other side of the sport isn’t shown enough; there is more out there than just contests.” Words & Photos: Rutledge

When you were younger you were known as a contest rider, but now you’re known as a freerider. Why did your attitude change? My attitude never changed, really. I was good at contests, so obviously you get addicted to winning. But when I was super young my friends had to beg me and convince me to do contests. They all kept telling me I would do really well and win and have a great time and then they hated me ‘cause I would beat them all. That’s when I realized just how shit contests were. I enjoyed competing when I was winning and then when I got injured that isn’t what I wanted to do anymore. I thought f*&$ it, a lot of other people are trying to break away and do this rail riding thing and do something really different, I was like I want to do that. So you kinda got burned out? Yeah I just got over competing; and people change when you compete against them. You could be best mates, but then when you’re on the dock they are total weirdos to you (laughs.) You got hurt three times in a row right? Yea. Do you feel like everyone kinda turned their back to you? Everyone said they were there supporting me, but after three reconstructions everyone starts to doubt you. F*&$, I was even doubting myself. How was I going to come back from three knee constructions? After my third reconstruction though I won Worlds again and I felt like I proved myself to myself, but I don’t think I proved myself to anyone else. No one really cares when an Australian wins the American World Title (laughs). That’s how I feel basically (laughs). You have a look at all the American riders who won Worlds and how much better it’s done for their career and then you look at the Australians and it’s done f&$% all. Do you think people in America don’t respect Australians as much? I know that it’s like this in every sport because America is such a big country and they dominate most things, and so they will always have the most people in the sport or whatever. Here’s a perfect example. Chad Reed is an Australian motocross rider, speaks with an American accent and admits that he does it because he fits in better and people started accepting him more. Look at Nicola Butler, she’s like six months into living in America and she sounded American. She was then accepted straight away because she had an American accent. When you have people like me and Brenton who are just super Australian it’s harder for companies to relate. It seems like you would be more marketable being from Australia and then splitting time in the States. Yeah, exactly. But they don’t see it like that. They think we’re coming back to Australia for a holiday, but really we are busting our ass all year round. Has your mindset changed since starting your own cable? Oh yeah, massively! I don’t even care what goes on in the sport anymore because I feel like we are going to be controlling it with this park and just private parks in general. No one can tell us what we can and can’t do, that’s what’s been stopping us from progressing the sport – everyone else. Going to parks to try and build and do things and them just telling you no because some stupid reason. No one is going to want to go ride full size cables that they have to follow all the rules at when they can come ride with their friends and on a unique setup like we are going to build. Do you feel private parks are the future with how much boat prices keep going up? Oh man, what is it like $200,000 for a boat or you could spend $200,000 on a piece of property and cables. I don’t know which one I would rather have… A $200,000 boat that loses value every year and you have to put gas in every time, or property with a cable you’re going to go hangout at and drink beers with your mates and it’s already paid for and gains value. Do you think sponsors will get more onboard with backing these private parks? Yeah I think so. It’ll take awhile because they don’t see it as “look at what you’ve done.” Sponsors see it as “look at what we can use you for”. (laughs) That’s the hardest thing, to not get yourself screwed in that situation. They think they can just use your park that you invested your own money in for their photoshoots and stuff. Do you think that is almost like a disconnect with sponsors when it comes to that? They just think since they are your board sponsor they are entitled to use it whenever they want even if they didn’t invest any money into it. For sure, that’s pretty much happened to everyone who has a home park. Their sponsors who have given them nothing their whole entire career besides some boards and maybe a small paycheck. Then you go and fork out all your money and savings to make your dream come true, and all it’s done is make their dream come true as well. It’s just kinda f*&#$@. Everything is going to be in limbo the next few years with where everyone and everything stands with private parks because everything is still so contest oriented. They think why am I going to pay you to sit at home. Unfortunately that’s the mentality some of the sponsors have. Even though the reality is you’re busting ass because there is always so much work to do to maintain a park. Yeah, I’m missing a season overseas, and there stereotype there is if you don’t go to America then you’re gone. So I’m just trying to spend as much time here because why not?! I’ll go to America for Surf Expo, but that’s probably it. Why would I go to America when I have a perfect setup in my backyard I can ride, shoot at and change whenever I want? Is it pretty easy to get over the Orlando scene as a rail rider? What scene… (laughs) Everyone is there to just try and jump onto each other’s coattails. Everyone wants to do stuff, but by themselves. But you can’t go winching without three people at a minimum. Then you’re still pretty much missing a photographer or videographer. Everyone is so selfish though that no one wants to help out so no one ever gets anything done. I think everyone is just beating their head against the wall in Orlando. I mean the cable parks suck, too, especially when it comes to shooting. Their staff has no idea what they are doing. They need to have employees that know the scene and what is good for the park and wakeboarding. They still have the Nessie rail in there for f$&@# sake (laughs). It’s probably the least progressive parks in the world, yet it is the most famous. What does that tell you? Do you think that parks are getting better though with rail design and layout? Yeah, I think you’ll see more parks start to go with more custom stuff other than so much pre fab. What companies like UNIT are doing is awesome that they are building unique and hard to hit rails for the masses, so we keep bringing younger and younger riders who rip to the sport. You filmed a full movie last year. Did it get the response you wanted? To be honest I did it for me. I looked to my sponsors to help back it since I knew it couldn’t get sponsors behind it since it was my first movie. I just wanted to show everyone what I was doing and show a different side of the sport besides contests. I wish I had more time to edit it because I edited the whole thing two weeks before Expo. I’ve only watched it once since the premiere and I have never checked the viewer count. A lot of people just appreciate the fact that it was done differently and you follow a year’s worth of travels. I think the other side of the sport isn’t shown enough; there is more out there than just contests.