If you're from Texas or you spend any time perusing the Internet for wake-related content, you've probably heard of JB O'Neill. He's got a reputation for bringing a lot of creativity to the sport through both his riding and his video productions. If you haven't heard of him...well, you have now. Keep reading and you'll find out why you'll be hearing a lot more from JB in the near future!
WW: Who is JB O’Neill and where are you from? JB: I’m from Austin, Texas and I am just a wakeboarder having as much fun as possible!
WW: How old are you? JB: I am 21 years of age.
WW: Why is wakeboarding so important to you? JB: Wakeboarding is important to me because it is the best thing in the world!
WW: How long have you been wakeboarding and how did you get into the sport? JB: I have been wakeboarding since 2004 and basically got started with this janky old wakeboard that came with my dad’s old Sea Ray.
WW: Of all your buddies, are you the most into wakeboarding? JB: Oh, most definitely! I am always trying to find a pull or do something wake related. It’s a bit harder to get riding done here than in Orlando.
WW: The reason I wanted to interview you is that you’ve managed to deliver a lot of unique and interesting riding via the Internet and it’s made you stand out in a very crowded arena. What’s the motivation behind this significant contribution to the sport? JB: My motivation is honestly just how much fun I have sharing pictures and videos. I meet and make a lot of new friends through social networks. I just really love getting out there and sharing my awesome life of wakeboarding and good times.
WW: Tell us about Gnar Productions. JB: Gnar Productions is a fun film company I started a few years ago. Basically, my friends and I film each other doing what we love, wakeboarding, motocross, skateboarding, etc., and I just throw little web edits together to go on YouTube.
WW: What do you do to pay the bills? JB: I don’t have many bills to pay honestly. I drive a 400cc scooter (60mpg), no Internet on my phone, have a year pass to BSR cable park, I am single and live with my family. I am currently living off of this past year’s contest money and money from my last job as a pool boy.
WW: Do you go to school? JB: I did some school at Austin Community College, and also a year at Blinn College, but I am currently not enrolled because I want to try and live the dream as a professional wakeboarder. I figured I would finish up school later in life after my joints go bad.
WW: Do you prefer getting dragged by a boat or a cable? JB: I prefer getting dragged by a boat by far! I used to actually hate the cable until BSR Cable Park was built six months ago. That place is amazing.
WW: What were the highlights of your last 12 months of wakeboarding? JB: I won the Mid Summer Classic at SETX and the Riptank Open in Lubbock, TX. I was in the 2013 O’Brien catalog shoot. I really enjoyed spending time with a lot of my friends in Orlando. I also learned a ton of new tricks this year, which I am really stoked about.
WW: What’s the local wake scene like? JB: The local wake scene is actually pretty small here on Lake Austin. A lot of the older guys seem to be disappearing and all the youngsters are getting into tubing and wakesurfing since they both require almost no skill to do. Hopefully, I can boost the scene around here soon! Austin is really growing and it would be awesome to see wakeboarding as big as it is in Orlando here.
WW: Who do you usually ride with? JB: I usually ride with my dad. We are practically best friends, ha! I also ride with my good friend Billy Garcia at Freeride Wakeboard School. Rocker Steiner, up and coming eight-year-old shredder, is also fun to ride with. Tom Knotek, Kevin Sanders, Reagan Strickland, Morgan Lohmeier and all my awesome friends at BSR!
WW: We ran into you at Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida. Do you do much wake-related traveling? JB: I used to not travel that much, but now that I bought a scooter, I will travel all over the US with it!
WW: Where would you like to wakeboard that you haven’t been to yet? JB: Australia, duh! I really want to try out the double summer thing!
WW: What are your plans for 2013? Will you be competing at all? JB: My plans for 2013 are to stay healthy, slam down a ton of new tricks, travel everywhere and meet tons of new people and to put out some sick videos! I will compete at local contests, a few PWT stops and maybe Wake Games. I also may enter my first cable contest in 2013.
WW: What are you trying to accomplish when you head out for a set on the water? JB: I honestly don’t know. Every time I am headed to the lake I am thinking of trying some cool new trick and 90% of the time I wind up trying something completely different.
WW: What kind of mark do you want to leave on the sport of wakeboarding? JB: I feel that it is extremely hard to leave a mark these days with all the amazing riders out there, but if I do end up leaving a mark I would like to inspire riders to progress and be the best they can. I would also like to land a new trick that has never been landed and will be remembered.
WW: What’s the most valuable tip you can give to any rider? JB: Keep trying and never give up.
WW: What are your top five songs to hear while you’re riding? JB: None. I am so ridiculously ADD that I lose all concentration. Even when sitting in the boat I’d much rather spark up some conversation than blasting music.
WW: When we snapped these pics, you were riding Tara Mikacich’s board because you hadn’t yet settled on a 2013 O’Brien model. Have you settled on one yet? JB: I chose to ride the O’Brien Contra because it is probably the gnarliest board on the planet! It has a three-stage rocker for loads of pop, has a delta base to really speed the board up on the water and awesome channels to hold edge extremely well. The board is awesome for both going wake to wake and blasting into the flats. I absolutely love it!
WW: Which riders do you think make wakeboarding look how it should look? JB: Randall Harris and Dean Smith are my favorite go huge guys. They are so rad! I also really like Jeff Langley and Gunner Daft. They have some sweet style! I like almost every rider’s style. The only things I don’t like are pre spinning on kickers and when riders are really penciled out and stiff legged.
WW: What do you do when you’re not wakeboarding? JB: Filming, skateboarding and motocross are some of my hobbies. I really like doing rope swings, jumping on trampolines, launching bikes into the lake and hanging out with my friends. The hot tub at BSR is also really fun! Especially when they make it girls ride free month.
WW: When can we expect to see some new video of you? JB: In a couple of weeks hopefully! I’m pretty stoked on the video I am making right now.
WW: What is your favorite trick to do? What trick do you think looks best? JB: Hoochie to blind is my favorite for sure! I think toeside backside off axis 360s look the best. Unfortunately, I get wrecked every time I try to spin like that.
WW: Is there anyone you’d like to thank? JB: Heck yeah, tons of people! My dad comes first, though, ‘cause he has done a ton for me my whole life, and I would probably be nowhere without him. My mom for her awesome support.
O’Brien Wakeboards have helped me out ever since I started riding. Justin Keifer picked me up back in ‘04 and soon Buck Ashcraft came along and has done so much for me. Now Cobe Mikacich is really helping me out with everything.
Billy Garcia at Freeride Wakeboard School has done a lot for me. He really helped me progress off the start and has always been available whenever I need help with pulls and such. Sid Steiner has recently been helping me out a ton with getting more riding in and I look forward to hanging out and helping his son Rocker progress in the future. Stuart Parsons built the best cable in the US (BSR) six months ago and I have progressed so much riding there. Cameron Talbert has pushed me to get so much better in the past four months. I have learned so much. And, finally, to John Holmes for the best times on the lake ever!
All my friends support me and are there for me no matter what. Thanks everyone so much. Y’all are awesome!