Checking In With Ben Leclair

An update with one of the sport's brightest stars.

It’s been five year since we checked in with Legendary rider Ben Leclair, whose trailblazing Paris Floods winching video revolutionized the world of wakeboarding. Here’s the latest update with one of our sport’s brightest lights.

Young Ben Leclair
First jump, first grab pulled by my friend Dids Godbout (@didiergodbout_velostation ) who introduced me to wakeboarding. Courtesy Maryse Lauzon

A lot has changed since we checked in with Canada’s Ben Leclair. The last time was in the summer of 2016, right as he’d wrapped up filming and winching through the Paris floods. The video became an instant hit, and later an award-winning piece that aired in film festivals and brought Wakeboarding into neighborhoods and through backyards, launching Leclair into legendary status. Soon after, he suffered a spinal cord injury, but remains heavily involved in filming and promoting Wakeboarding.

Here’s the latest check-in with the 27-year-old native from Valleyfield, Quebec.

Ben Leclair over the soccer net
Frontside boardslide on a soccer net in 3 inches of water. Courtesy Oly care

When did you start winching?

The first time I ever rode a winch was in a wakeboard contest back in 2009. I remember being quite intimidated by the super-fast start launching you directly toward the rails, having barely a second to adjust. It wasn’t easy to ride, but it was very challenging, and it gave us the opportunity to ride really unique obstacles.

Frontboard in the dark
Frontboard in 2010 winching in a parking lot beside the highway with @yannroy. Courtesy Yann Roy

The level of rail riding was very high, and it really pushed me to become a more complete rider.

In the winter, we get a lot of snow over here, and it all gets pushed in big piles to clear the parking lots, which creates decent pools when they melt at the end of the season.


Those pools are only there for a short period of time, but Yann Roy would always set up rails in there to winch and get cool photos under the parking-lot lights.

Frontside lip grind
First time winching, first time riding a pressboard pulled again by my boy Dids godbout (@didiergodbout_velostation). Courtesy Yann Roy

Did you ever get in trouble for shooting on the streets?

I was very lucky to talk my way out of a couple of tickets for winching, but I’ve definitely had some strange encounters. Cops on bikes, motorcycles, and even on personal watercraft in Sweden once.

Winching in a cool spot
A soccer bench chained onto a picnic table to jump up on top of a bleecher sounded like a great idea back in 2011 with @yan87tibo and @yanlecomte. Courtesy @olycare

About the Paris floods video: What awards did it win? Did you ride, film and edit? Did you film with drones? How long did it take to shoot?

The Paris floods “Natural Playground” video was one of my greatest accomplishments in Wakeboarding. I was in Denmark when I heard about that flood, and I knew it was an opportunity to ride crazy spots, so we drove straight down to Paris with Ian Curry to Kevin Calvez’s house.

Walking by the house when winching
Eyeing up the close out on the wooden house in France. Courtesy Oly care

We filmed for 10 days and had to adjust very quickly because it was drying up fast. Every morning I would go around and walk in the water, searching for something to ride with enough water.

My original idea was to film a bunch of winch spots in Europe and edit it, making it flow like a single line. That’s why some of those clips were filmed in other countries in Europe.

Read Next: Checking in With Sam Brown

Leclair ollie
Nose bonk on an unidentified metal frame. Courtesy Oly care

You had a life-changing accident that year. How did that occur?

I had a wakeboard crash riding in a private wake park in Florida called Area 52. I was rushed to the hospital with a double fracture in my neck and was paralyzed from the chest down.

Frontboard slide on the deck
Frontboarding a little bit too close to the house. Courtesy Oly care

How do you deal with the obstacles you face?

One day at a time.

Leclair on the water
Searching for treasures in the floods. Courtesy Oly care

What filming and editing projects are you working on now?

I’ve been working full-time for two years producing  and editing videos for a wheelchair company called Amylior, but now that my mobility has improved I really want to film more and create images by myself to diversity my craft. I also still have a wakeboard edit sleeping in my hard drive from that week at Area 52 that I’d like to share soon…Follow my IG @benleclair for new stuff coming soon!

Leclair walking the winch line
Winching is just as much walking as riding but oh so satisfying. Courtesy Oly care

To finish this off, I’d like to thank the wonderful #BENSQUAD support team for always having my back! Please try and live in the moment and appreciate the simple things of life we take for granted too often, also to keep smiling even when the times are hard because there are always good times ahead. Thanks to everyone surrounding me from near and far and supporting me in this journey. —Ben


Email Newsletters and Special Offers

Sign up for Wakeboarding emails to receive up-to-date athlete and industry news as well as special offers on behalf of Wakeboarding’s partners.

By signing up you agree to receive communications from Wakeboarding and select partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You may opt out of email messages/withdraw consent at any time.

More How-To