WATKINS****How many years have you been on a wakeboard? "Five years. That is when the first board came into Oz . I got on it right away. Then, I went to the first Australian titles in 1997."
Has your recent success paid off yet? "Yeah. I am super stoked with the way the first two stops went. Two-fifths. Since having such a great start, I've managed to score a sponsorship deal with Tigi boats. I am stoked to be part of the team. I guess a new 21V Riders Edition is in the mail as we speak. This is a really weird experience for me. When I started wakeboarding and got my first sponsor, I was stoked to get a free board.. Then, as things move on, you get clothes, sunglasses - all this stuff for free. Then, all of a sudden, I turn around and we are talking boats. I can't believe it."
Where's your favorite place to ride? "On the border of New South Wales and Victoria in Oz. It's a place called Yarrawonga."
What's the difference between the wakeboarding scenes in Australia and the U.S.? "Wakeboarding in Oz is getting bigger. It is nowhere near the size that it is in the U.S. That is purely due to the population. It looks like this year we will have some sort of an Oz tour, which is really exciting. That may influence a few people to do what I do and follow the sun for a while by competing on the Oz tour during the U.S. winter."
What riders do you like to watch? "Parks is amazing. I love watching him ride as he does every trick ever invented and switch. I also like the power of Darin's riding."
What else are you into besides wakeboarding? "When I am not riding, I like to hang out with friends and relax. I also enjoy motocross, surfing and partying a little when I can. Lawn bowls is another past time of mine. I pulled my lats in my back the other week. Then I was challenging, so I guess the bowls are out for a few weeks."
Any good stories from the road? "Thailand earlier this year was one of my favorite events. It was the first time my brother had been out of Oz. We got on the plane and started drinking. Then, after a while, Josh , Greg and myself started talking about how much fun it would be to pool all our prize money and just have a fun trip for 10 days. I guess we stuck to the deal. We had fun. Definitely! The contest went really well. I won, which was good. On the other hand, it sucked, as I had to give the other two guys half my prize money. I guess it's all good. It was a good time over there, and I will make it up in San Fran' - I hope!"
How much longer will you be riding at this level, and where is this sport headed in your mind? "I have now way out done any goals I have ever set for myself in wakeboarding. I guess now I just want to stay where I am in the sport for as long as I can. I wake up every morning in amazement. I still can't believe I am making a living from something I love so much. I would wakeboard every day no matter what. But, being able to travel the world and having the experience I've had from wakeboarding - I reckon' I must be the luckiest person ever. Just living the dream."
-- WBM Online assumes no responsibility for keyboard malfunctions due to our visitors shedding tears on them after reading this interview. Also, check out www.prowakeboardtour.com for Daniel's results at the first leg of the Vans Triple Crown, The Ford Ranger Pro, in Pensacola, Florida, starting with nightly updates on Friday, April 28. Click here for more images.