The past six months have been a whirlwind for 21-year-old multi-time World Cable Wake Champion James Windsor. The Queensland shredder is back home for a few months of down-time and we caught up with him to find out about his epic 2016 season where he hit a whopping 16 different countries in six months.
By the sounds of it the past six months have been pretty hectic for you, man. What did you get up to?
Yeah I just got home from a massive trip. It started with the Shredtown Jamboree invitational event in Texas, where 30 of the best riders in the world spent four days camping on a ranch and riding two amazing cable systems on a perfect lake. It was an interesting start to the season! After that we went to France and stayed there for two weeks, travelling around, hitting up parks, doing the tourist thing and eating heaps of bread and cheese.
From there we travelled around Europe and went to Germany for a while. One of the cable companies hired a van for us and we got to travel around and check out 15 cable parks there.
Wait – there are 15 cable parks in Germany?
Yeah, there are 110 parks in Germany alone, which is the most for any country! We checked out heaps of them and it was so much fun. Then I went back to the US for a couple months travelling around and competing, then back to Germany, then Amsterdam for two weeks and to check out a music festival. From there I think I went to the Munich Mash, which was an awesome event, then spent three weeks in Italy. I’d never been there before so I was really stoked to head there and check out their parks and hang out with the locals.
Then I went to the UK for an event called Glass Butter Beach and I ended up winning that one, which was awesome, then spent another month or so travelling around Europe for contests. I stayed there for about three months this year, which is a bit different to the usual.
What’s the usual? More time in the US?
Yeah that’s right. The past five years it’s mainly in the US and I’ve usually competed in countries that spoke English. This year the tour was changed completely and there were a lot more contests in Europe, so I spent a lot of time on trains and planes getting between events and struggling with the language barrier. I think all up I rode 16 or 17 events, so they all blur together a bit.
Travelling to 16 countries in six months is a big effort. Is that the most intense schedule you’ve had?
Yes and no. Usually I’m away for nine months of the year so this was shorter, but the schedule was really intense. You don’t even know what events will be on when you leave home for the northern hemisphere summer; you just receive invitations as you go and you figure out ways to make them all work. It’s pretty crazy and full-on, but I love it.
Your passport must be completely chockas.
[Laughs] I have to get a new one each year! I get stopped all the time and interrogated in the back room because with that many stamps in my passport they suspect I’m drug trafficking. If I get a new passport every year it doesn’t look as bad and they can usually find a clear space to stamp.
Have you ever been turned away because customs didn’t believe you’re a pro wakeboarder?
I’ve never been rejected yet, but the UK is by far the strictest country to get into. I’m usually sitting in a back room for four or five hours after a 12-hour flight while they figure out what to do with me. They always let me go, but it’s still something I could live without.
For sure. So what was the best experience you had over the past six months?
Going to Italy. I’ve been to so many countries, but it was nice to go somewhere new and check out places I’ve always wanted to see, ride a gondola and all that stuff. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming there and always tried to help me out, even if they couldn’t speak English.
And the worst experience?
Having nine flights cancelled on me in a row. My first flight was cancelled so they put me on another carrier, then they cancelled and I was transferred to another airline. They were delayed, then I finally caught a flight from Germany to the US, but when I got to LA everything just kept stacking up with more and more cancelled flights. It was the worst day ever and I was so over it. Really, the day couldn’t have gone any worse and a 16-hour trip turned into 27 hours.
Dude, I would’ve been livid! Well you’re back home now; how’s it feel to be in your own bed again?
Amazing. It’s so good to be home. I always miss home, my bed, Vegemite, Milo and my mates. There’s nothing like coming back to your own place after a big season.
What are your plans for the next few months? Are you taking it pretty easy?
I’m heading to Mackay for some coaching clinics and get back on the board and train again. I’ve had a couple of weeks off now, so I’ll start to get back into it before I fly to Thailand just after New Years. After a couple of weeks off the board you do feel a bit rusty when you get back into it. I rode every day for seven months and you just feel so comfortable on the board when you’re constantly doing it.
Nice one. Obviously LKI is a pretty major supporter of you and everything you do. What’s it like being part of the team?
It’s amazing. I met Jason (LKI founder) through motocross and they’ve been with me since I started wakeboarding. I was their first wake athlete and they welcomed me with open arms and have been like a second family to me. The whole family is really nice and look after me; I couldn’t be more stoked to be part of the team.
Good stuff. Cheers for the chat, Windsor. Enjoy the downtime.
WINDSOR’S 2016 TOP RESULTS
1st – Glass Butter Beach “Quadra Crown” Overall, North Wales
3rd – Red Bull Wake of Steel, Austria
4th – Fise Montpellier, France
6th – Wake the Line, Cologne, Germany