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Where Are They Now? Hayley Smith, Australian Women’s Wake Ambassador

We caught up with Australian Tour champion Hayley Smith, aka Dean’s little sister, who inspired riders for decades with her progressive style.

August 11, 2021
Hayley Smith boosting off the wake and making memories
“I would love to go back and do it all again, living life in Neverland, spending most of my time on the water was the most amazing experience and damn I miss it!’ Courtesy Union Magazine

Growing up competing against gifted brother Dean Smith wasn’t easy for the Australian Tour champion Hayley Smith. She remembers being a bit of a tomboy who idolized her brother and “followed what he would do always wanting to do better than him”.

“Dean was always sporty and in my eyes he was the pinnacle. That essentially was my motivation to wakeboard, I think I actually got up on a board quicker than he did. He wouldn’t remember it that way, but I sure remember any little wins I had. I will hold onto that for life!”

Her passion for the water began at Port Hacking River in the south of Sydney, Australia, where waterskiing and getting out on the boat was something her family did regularly. Although Dean Smith became World Champion and married legendary Amber Wing-Smith, Hayley did not walk in their shadows and managed to shine on her own.

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Hayley Smith is adept at a number of tricks
Melon Cab Glide, Indy Glide, TS Roll 2 Revert. Hayley Smith has a deep bag of tricks. Courtesy Dave Williams, Wake World (left & right), Hayley Smith (center)

She won her first international Pro Women’s event in 2004 at the first ever IWSF World Cup, in Paris, “This was my first taste of a big podium and actually changed my path and desire to wakeboard more.” The following year she traveled to The USA for the first time for the annual “Aussie Migration” where she worked in the kitchen at the Hanson’s Camp in Groveland, Florida. She returned for the States for the next nine years, spending the majority of her time at the Wakeboard Camp riding with the amazing crew that trained there and living mostly with Amber Wing.

Hayley Smith rail grind for a movie shoot
Filming at Radar Lakes for Oakley’s movie Sets in Motion. Hayley Smith

Throughout her competitive career, Harley won a Pro Tour guitar along numerous podium placements on the Pro Tour, at the US Nationals and the Worlds. She rode at Radar Lake and filmed for the women wakeboard films The Chick Flick and Sets In Motion and for Michael and Laura Buffa who were the heart and soul of WAKEGIRLS.

After moving on from competitive wakeboarding, it look her nearly five years to gain an interest in the sport again. “The burn out was real. However, I just started riding again at the Sydney Cable Park over our last Australian summer (and sucked). Work took me out there originally and our awesome team riders reignited the love and fun on water.”

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Hayley Smith running her boat and riding at sunset
Hayley takes her pink Super Air Nautique for a spin, and perfects her stalefish at sunset. Hayley Smith (left), Jake Snider (right)

Today, Harley works part time from home and within the industry she enjoys working behind the scenes, “I get to keep an eye on grassroots wakeboarding in Australia which is unreal and also women’s wakeboarding by volunteering through Amber’s not-for-profit, Foundation For Women’s Wake”. The candid powerhouse has one three year old boy son and a baby girl on the way due in September. While she juggles motherhood, she also has a freelance digital marketing business that is devoted to help business women within creative spaces, [email protected]

“I can’t wait to have my baby girl and start riding again. Hopefully get my kids on a board (of any type) when they are is interested. They are being forced into at least one board sport!”

She wishes to compete again in times to come, “I actually have my own goal to compete again in the ‘old broken down women’s’ cable category in the future,” she jokes, “however, I don’t think that division exists at the moment. Fingers crossed my injuries left over from boat riding don’t get in the way!”

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