How often do you hit the wake?
Not as much. It used to be all I did, and for a while there I was over rail riding. For a bit when I was living down here and we didn’t have any rails in the lake, I was getting into hitting the wake a bunch. I was learning a lot of new tricks, but then rail riding just took back over. It was an access thing. I just like being on my board and on the water. And having easier access to rails and it being cheaper, it just made sense. I mean, you and your buddy can ride rails forever on a can of gas.
You’ve never been a contest guy, right? Why is that?
Well, I was in it for a while. I don’t hate contests. What really bugged me out was the money. I have to pay my registration fee, fly out there and pay to stay somewhere. It’s just expensive. But I actually like the nervous feeling I get before I ride. It’s fun. It’s like an exciting adrenaline rush kind of thing. You go out there and you can screw up or ride really well. I remember I was out in Oregon, and I got seventh at one of the tour stops. I was like, “No way,” I was pumped.
If you could design your perfect contest, what would it be?
Me and a few fellas talked about this at The Projects. They’ve probably forgotten about it by now. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a gauntlet run, just pretty much setting up a pass of three rails with like swinging sand bags over one, maybe paint ball guns on another, I don’t know what else, but we could come up with it — a full-on gauntlet run. Or we could just do the Redneck Rail Jam: get pulled by an ATV in a mud pit with some rails in it and a bunch of beer drinking. You wait, in 2012, if the world hasn’t ended, it will after the Redneck Rail Jam.
In a world in which fewer kids build rails, you still continue to build all your own rails. Why is that?
Somebody’s got to. It’s easier than a lot of people think. That’s another thing: I want to show a lot of people how to build rails. When I built with Pat, he just kept showing me more and more. It’s easy; it just takes time. A lot of people don’t want to put the time into it. It’s time; it’s money.
Where do you see cable parks fitting in? Do you think they help get kids into hitting rails, or are kids too lazy to build rails because they can hit them at a park?
Cable parks are great. All the rails are there, and it’s easy access. You’re not going to get yelled at for hitting the rail or whatever; you’re not breaking any rules. At the same time, you’re taking 100 hits every time you go out there on the same rails. Surely you’re going to get tired of hitting the same rails over and over. I guess that’s just where I was: No one was going to build rails for me, so I went out and did it.
Where did you learn to build so well?
Clear Lake [Fletcher’s home lake in Orlando] and just being around The Projects with Pat. I looked at them, rode them and figured them out and how they’re put together. I’m no carpenter by any means, but with a little bit of work they come together. You learn from your mistakes. But especially being around Collin Harrington, he and I built so many rails together on Clear Lake.
What about designing?
Is that something you do by yourself or do you collaborate with other people? As far as blueprints go, we have yet to use them. We have gone out there with the F-it attitude every time, you know? Panakos does it right, and it shows. For us, something is always going to go wrong.
Things are getting super technical with rails these days, and the gnarly factor has been kind of lost. Do you think things will ever shift?
Yeah, I think things have gone technical, for sure, over the past two years or so, especially with the rooftop and really long flat bars and people trying to press everything. It’s progression. It used to be just board sliding big rails because they were big. You could say, “Yeah, maybe I’ll back lip that, but I’m going to die.”
That’s where the more tech rails came out, huh?
I don’t know. When Collin and I built the rooftop out here, we argued over what we were going to do. I mean, rooftops are essentially flat bars — they just have a transition point where you can switch it up. Rooftops are no strangers; they’ve been in snowboarding since forever. You can hop around on a flat bar, but it’s just better to have transition points in the rail. I’m not saying you need to build a mountain scene of rooftops. I guess it would look sick if you painted it, though, right?
What do you have to say to people building rails themselves?
Make sure your posts are right, man. That’s like a life lesson right there: Make a solid foundation.
At the end of the day, where do you see yourself? Do you have a dream job, dream guitar, dream car or dream setup? Money’s no option?
Shit man, what you’re gonna have is a full-bore six-tower cable park in the backyard, a boat lake, System 2.0s, a 1987 El Camino with a Slayer bumper sticker, a Harley in the garage, a hollow-body Fender Telecaster with a Stratocaster neck that is like Frankenstein that no one else has and just land man, land.