Daniel Watkins is part of wakeboarding history. A former pro from Australia, today he’s the proud owner of a premium wakepark packed with UNIT features on Australia’s Gold Coast, an area known mainly for surfing.
We appreciate Daniel’s focus on getting kids into the sport, and wanted to learn more about his unique approach. Originally, the interview appeared in the UNIT Magalog, which you can order here for free.
Hi Daniel, please introduce yourself.
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia waterskiing. Then I moved to Orlando, Florida when I was 20 to follow the dream of being a wakeboarder. After a couple of years in the waterski-show at Sea World I moved over to wakeboarding and spent total 15 years competing at the Pro Tour. I won the World Series a couple of years, the World Cup one year, all boat stuff. Then I just had the dream to have a cable park and decided that the Gold Coast was a place that needed one.
You worked hard for this dream and it wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. Why is it worth the effort to run a wake park? What are the upsides?
The ups are seeing all the groms ride and the stoke on their faces. Every day you see people who’ve never done the sport before, and you see them walk out at the end of the day, with massive smiles, fully stoked. That’s the reason why we do it.
That’s understandable. Is there anything special you do to attract kids?
We do an after-school program. I just created a book called » Progression Sessions. « We developed a program that breaks wakeboarding down into rail hits, transfer box hits, pipe hits and flat water tricks. It’s a 10-level program, from level one up to ten. If you can do this on a flat bar, then you should be doing this off a kicker, and you should be doing this on flat water. So kids can map their progression, and tell all their friends they are a level three or level four wakeboarder, and so on.
That’s really cool. Is it important to have features that suit the requirements of younger kids?
Absolutely. When we choose our features, we have the beginner to intermediate in mind. Of course, we also have a few more difficult rails and features.