On Tour With Mike Dowdy

Like it or not, there is one thing you have to respect about Mike Dowdy: his drive. There might not be a more determined rider among the pro ranks than the 23-year-old from Michigan. The Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour title has been a goal of Dowdy’s for years, and after an unbelievable 2016 season, which saw the most competitive riding in years, that goal has been achieved. We sat down with the reigning champ to talk about it, as well as to find out how he plans on defending it.

pro wakeboard tour
On Tour With Mike DowdyBill Doster

What was your mindset going into the Supra Boats PWT for 2016? Was there anything different you did for 2016 as opposed to previous years?

My mindset going in was to get top two in both series. That was my goal, since I placed third in both series the year before. My approach to competing had a total revamp from 2015 to 2016 though. I started focusing on the mind a lot more. I do mental training drills for at least an hour a day. A lot of people look at me like a crazy person when I talk about mental drills, but there is a reason that I won both tours and the Masters all in one year. It’s because I conditioned my mind for it. What I did most of all though was create a foundation of trust within myself. I trust that my body can take a beating because of my training in the gym. I trust that my focus will be on the right things because of my mental drills. I trust that technique will be excellent because of my on-water training. I trust all of my training, and that compounds over time. Then I visualize what I want to achieve.

The 2016 PWT saw some of the consistently best riding ever. How do you use other riders’ performances to motivate you rather than intimidate you?

You have to embrace the fear that comes with competing. Every athlete feels it. No one is exempt from it. The guys who are great find a way to navigate through it, and using other people’s performances is a powerful tool to do so. And after they have a solid performance, I want to go out and show what I can do. I also want to see other riders succeed. A lot of people don’t want others to have success, but I’m not afraid of that. I will be all right either way. I embrace that. I want to see people succeed because that helps grow the sport, which is a win for me.

pro wakeboard tour
On Tour With Mike DowdyBill Doster

Which stop was the toughest for you and why?

I would say Edmonton was the toughest battle. It was a close race between Tony and me. I think he had the lead headed in, but I wasn’t particularly confident at that event. I wasn’t really feeling it that day until the finals. It was almost like I could feel myself breaking out of a funk and into a state of focus. That was my best performance of the year. Also, the course layout was a bit different, and a lot of guys were getting hung up on that. I saw that as an opportunity to be open to adversity while others were closing off. They kept talking about the course and this, that and the other. That was a sign for me to be patient, be open to adversity, and remember my training. It was a cool experience, looking back.

Describe the finals in Indy, knowing there was only a five-point difference between you and Tony going into the event. Did you feel like you’d won after the finals?

That was a crazy finals, especially since we both had fallen in round one. I remember after Tony stood up his second-round pass, all I told myself was, “You have done everything you need to do.” That brought some calmness to me. And so, I went out and did what I believed I could do. I wasn’t really going for the win of that event. I was going for the title. After my stand-up pass, I believed I did enough to edge out Tony, and that’s how it played out. It was a crazy event. Neither one of us was budging all year, and it came down to the last ride of the season for the decision. Props to Tony, he’s a totally new force.

pro wakeboard tour
On Tour With Mike DowdyBill Doster

What did it feel like when you did win, to be crowned the overall PWT champ?

To be honest, it felt comfortable. I had been imagining what it would feel like to stand up there holding that guitar for a long, long time. I imagined what my performance would feel like. I had been plotting it for almost a year, so I was ready for it. It felt like I was in a vision and was just playing a role. It was the most exciting thing that has happened for me in my career.

What’s it going to take to defend the title in 2017? Is that your top goal for the year?

I’m not really in the mentality that I have to defend anything. I’m in the mentality that I have to go back and earn it again. I’ll be in the gym, on the bike, training my mind, training my skills, and I will show up at each event just like last year. It will be a battle all over again, and we will see if my consistency over time pays off. As far as goals for 2017, where do you go when you’re at the top? I’ve proven that I am who I said I am, so now it’s time to set goals aimed at character qualities I want to have. Am I being a good leader? Am I courageous? Am I being organized? Am I being prepared? Am I being disciplined, optimistic, accepting, and capitalizing on my opportunities? These are all questions that I ask myself because this is the person I want to be.

pro wakeboard tour
On Tour With Mike DowdyBill Doster

What are you most looking forward to about the 2017 PWT?

I’m just looking forward to competing again. I'm such a competitor when it comes to this sport. I try to embrace all the aspects of competition, but I still have a long way to go to be where I think I can be. It’s all a process, and I’m enjoying the ride.

Are you tired of the nickname “Dirty” Mike Dowdy yet?

I’d say it’s run its course for sure. I don’t think it really fits anymore since I have become who I am. I can’t control what people say or don’t say though, so we’ll see if it sticks. I will have to change my social channels when I find something good though [laughs]. For now, people can call me whatever they want. I’m just focusing on making them remember me.