Nobody knows them in 1998. Nobody in America anyway. This past summer found them in a borrowed London flat using a donated MasterCraft boat to train on a rented six-buoy ski course at the prestigious Princes Club in Staines. Autumn found them packing up their abbreviated belongings (which they got for free from sponsors) and stuffing them into a borrowed wagon littered with sunglasses and magazines and Neil Pryde wetsuits and towing the XStar that they were returning. In one week they were making that trans-Atlantic flight to the U.S. for a second straight off-season, where they would continue to borrow space to sleep and boats to use and lakes to ride on. But you don’t care. You’re thinking, “Who the hell are Nick and Julz Heaney and why is WBM wasting precious space on these nobodies? Give me Shapiro. Give me Kovak. Give me Reef chicks.”
Well, you should care, ’cause Nick and Julz Heaney are the Shapiros and Kovaks of the UK. What’s more, they’re the veritable Gallagher brothers of wakeboarding. They’ll tell you more stories about life as professional wakeboarders – the parties, the perks, the Reef chicks – than any of our pros. Amsterdam with Gator. Austria with Animal. Italy with Reinhart and Briscoe. Hong Kong with Neil Pryde. Switzerland with the Traegers. London with Jurai. Anywhere with Jurai. What’s more, they’ve made a bona fide career out of scamming. But no one minds, ’cause Nick and Julz Heaney are honest, hardworking, sincere, and, oh yeah, fun.
Nick and Julz Heaney are mad about wakeboarding. Mad about wakeboarding the way scientists are mad about new experiments. The way addicts are about heroin. Nick is 23 in 1998. Julz is 20. They are exactly two years, four months, six days and seven hours apart. Heaney is pronounced hee-ney, as opposed to the Americanized hay-nee, but they won’t waste the time to correct you. Both were born into a water-skiing household in Newcastle, nursed on slalom skiing, weaned on jump skis and coddled on trickers. Both have modeled professionally. Both prefer tiny, lithe Oriental women but appreciate the robust beauty of the Nordic broads on occasion. In their errant teen years they forsook the stuffy British Water Ski Federation and became wakeboarders. Julz was technically the first to ride. They do not regret throwing away their burgeoning three-event career. They thumbed their noses at the Fed by pulling down coveted BBC air time doing a wakeboard exhibition at the British Masters, the last true bastion of traditional skiing events. The Brits reacted much the way the AWSA did when wakeboarding bashed its way into the Masters.
Nick and Julz Heaney are the epitome of brothers. They fight about stupid stuff like gassing the boat up. Or cleaning the dock. Or putting the boat in. All of their fist fights have been on or near water. They call them “punch ups.” They rarely fight about girls. Nick is 6’1″, 185 pounds. He’s lazy, non-punctual and disorganized. He’s definitely an instigator, an aggravator and a troublemaker. He’s almost been arrested five times; that’s the same number of private schools that asked him to leave. He likes to take life as it comes.
Julz is 6’0″, 175 pounds. He likes fast cars, first class and finishing touches. He’s organized and highly punctual. He liked to bake as a child. His nickname is the Silent Assassin. It has to do with women. It works. Julz cannot start a story that Nick doesn’t finish. In fact, when Nick’s around, Julz doesn’t get to talk much at all. Nick’s the salesman, Mr. Social, Mr. Act-First-Think-Later. Julz’s the sensitive guy, Mr. Congeniality, Mr. Methodical. They both ride Hyperlite Heer 147 HC with a 22″ stance at 9 and 9.
In England these guys are famous. They cannot go anywhere without someone recognizing them. They’ve been in Mizz magazine, The London Times, Sky magazine and Men’s Heaalth. In America that would be like Teen magazine, The New York Times, GQ and Men’s Health. They’ve been Page 8 boys. They’ve been hosts on MTV Europe. In fact, MTV liked them so much they did a video diary of the two at the Italy tour stop. They average 63 calls a day on their cell phone. Their bills exceed $500 a month. Right now their combined stats make them a larger tour de force than the Traeger brothers. And until last year their combined results were more prolific than that other bastion of sibling talent, those Bonifay boys.
Nick and Julz speak English, but you may not understand it. They use words like shag, daft, punter, bollocks, mate, bloody, arse, quid, kit and snog. Individually, each word means sex, dumb, idiot, b.s., friend, adjective, butt, money, underwear (or privates) and sex (again). Brits talk about sex a lot. British magazines talk about sex a lot. Therefore, it’s only natural that British men speak in a language where all slang can be inferred as sexual in nature. If given the choice, they’d shag all the Spice Girls, preferably at one time. If forced to choose, Mel B. would win, hands down. Their mentors are Peter North and Steve Sopp.
Still not convinced? This is Nick and Julz Heaney in a nutshell: They had a BMW that they called the Shag Wagon. It was their favorite car.