Conversations : Cobe France

“after watching the Moomba Masters the other weekend..,  The level of riding getting thrown down now is mind blowing.”

He look like the most unlikely of kids to be an athlete. This 18 year old, redheaded teenager from the Gold Coast looks more likely to be an extra in the Little Rascals than to be one of Australia’s next big things on a wakeboard.

But he defies stereotyping, and his riding disregards the odds. The WWA Jnr Pro Men’s Overall Champion of 2016 is about to head over to the States again, stepping it up to compete on the Pro Men’s circuit for 2017. Far from daunted, he is better placed than most to know exactly what it takes to be the best. No more than 24 hours before he left our shores, I sat with him to talk about what the future holds for Cobe France.

“Yeah, not too bad, I’m just packing at the moment.  Packing to go to the States already? Yeah, I head off tomorrow.

It’s pretty early to be heading back for you, is this the longest amount of time you’ll be spending in the States? Yeah, definitely!

Are you planning on spending the whole six months over there? Yeah, I’ll be coming home straight after Surf Expo in September, so I’ll be there until then.

Your first full season? The other years you’ve only spent two or three months, right? Yeah, pretty much.

You’re competing in Pro Men’s this year, but you could still be in Jnr Pro if you wanted? Yeah I can for another year, but I won Jnr Pro Men’s Overall last year, so I thought I might as well give Pro a crack!

Yeah, when you win, you move up, that’s how it should be. Yep!

So tell me a little bit about yourself. Ummm, well, I am a wakeboarder from the Gold Coast. I’ve pretty much lived on the Goldie my whole life, wakeboarding on the Coomera river. The past two years I have been to Orlando for a few months each year to do some Jnr Pro contests. Not last year but the year before was my first year on the Jnr Pro Tour, and I got second overall that year behind another Australian, Nic Rapa. Then last year I won the WWA Wake Series Jnr Pro Men’s overall, which was pretty amazing!

When did you start riding? I first learnt when I was six years old, but I started getting into it when I was twelve years old. That’s when I started to get a bit more determined.

What about your family? Do they ride? My dad has always had something to do with a boat, he barefooted and wakeboarded a bit as well. My parents are from New Zealand, and he tells me stories about barefooting in the summer over there, which was still freezing cold water, but he loved it. But they moved over here, so now they get to go out any weekend they want.

So are you another New Zealander that we are trying to claim as Australian? Nah, I was born in Australia but both my parents are from New Zealand.

If you are born in Australia you are an Australian, but what’s the noun for someone born in New Zealand? A New Zealander? Or New Zealish, perhaps? Nah, that makes it sound like you are only a little bit New Zealand. Probably just a New Zealander. I think. I don’t know, hey!

Who has been the biggest influence on your riding then? To be honest I always looked up to the boys who were doing the craziest tricks. One of my favourite people to watch is Massi Piffaretti because he has the sickest style ever. But I always loved watching guys like Mike Dowdy, Harley Clifford, and Cory Teunissen… all those boys pushing the tricks of the sport to a new level.

They definitely did that at Moomba! Is that a little daunting to know you’ll have to compete at that level? Yeah, after watching the Moomba Masters the other weekend! The stuff that used to be done in video parts is now getting thrown down in runs. The level of riding getting thrown down now is mind blowing!

But you ride with Cory and Harley a lot anyway, right? In Australia I usually ride with Harley, and my friend Michael Cotton comes out a lot as well. But over the past few years I’ve lived with Cory in Orlando. I rode pretty much the whole summer every day with him so that’s probably who I’ve ridden the most with.

What about guys like Lewy Watt and Nic Rapa, or Parker Siegele? They are in a similar position to you. Over the last few years it seems you four are all trying to take the step up from Jnr Pro to Pro. We are coming through… definitely hungry to win. I think we all want to come through together and start to play with the big boys.

It seems to me that you guys are the next gen to challenge the current crop which is Tony, Cory, and of course Harley. It’s pretty crazy when you think of how much Australia has a hold on the world stage.  Yeah, it’s pretty cool to think of how many riders there are from Australia right now, we are definitely getting the name put on the map!

I think you are the latest in the lineage putting Australia’s reputation on the map. From the get go, guys like Shannon Best and Mark McNamara, then of course Daniel, Ike, and Josh. Speaking of Daniel, has he been an influence on your career? Daniel and Mick Watkins have helped me so much in my career.

“we are getting the new shape WAKESETTER MXZ hull… this one is on steroids. Everything feels just a bit bigger.”

I first met them back when their shop was called Déja Vu, and now I’ve been spending the summer helping get their cable park ready. It’s pretty cool to see that unfold. Those guys have definitely helped me in the sport of wakeboarding for sure.

It is cool to see the impact they are having on the Gold Coast with their park for sure. You are a boat rider though, you’re on the Malibu team? Yeah, I was stoked to get to be a part of the Malibu team last year. I’m loving working with them so far, it’s been really fun. When it came time for me to look for a boat sponsor, I looked at all the boat companies and Malibu stood out the most to me. So I approached David Thorpe, and we started talking, and it eventuated from there. They were definitely the boats I liked riding behind the most. So I couldn’t be happier.

What boat are you riding behind on the Coomera? We have a Wakesetter 22 MXZ. Our new boat gets here at the end of this month, which is a little bit of a bummer cause I leave tomorrow. But we are getting the new shape MXZ hull, which I’ve ridden behind before, and it’s mind blowing, hey! I mean for a 22 foot boat the wake is soooo big.

This is the one they had on the Just Ride Tour? The orange and black one? Yeah, that’s it. It’s a step up for sure. The old MXZ is good but this one is on steroids. Everything feels just a bit bigger—the wake, and the wakesurf wake as well.

Yeah I guess it’ll be waiting for you in September. Yeah, but dad will do a few hours behind it before then, that’s for sure!

Are you living with Cory again this year?  Yeah, on Lake Jessamine in Orlando. I am pretty sure Lewy is living with us this year too.

Right, living with Lewy will be interesting. Yeah, I pretty much hung out with him every day last year, he lived at Harley’s literally down the road. He’s a heap of fun to hang out with.

Did you ride with Lewy and Parker this summer on the Malibu Just Ride Tour? I didn’t get to ride on the tour much.

But you did the Malibu Australian Open series this summer? Yeah, personally I think we need more events like that. They are national events where the riders need to get everything dialled so it is a genuine pro event. There needs to be more in Australia.

You rode Nationals too, but didn’t do so well. Contests are tough in that if you have an off day, you are out, when the level is so high.  Yeah, that’s contest though. You have to assume things may not go your way I think. Conditions etc. You can’t put money on the water being smooth. I didn’t ride too well but that’s ok.

What advice do you have for any other rider who is looking to take a step up? I think what will help you a lot is going out and practising your run when it’s rough out. When it’s a little bit windy and you don’t feel like going out, that’s when you need to be able to go out and ride and stick everything.

I feel like last year Tony Iacconi did that really well. He was super consistent in the water, always landing his run, which was pretty cool to see.

Yeah because just being able to ride away from something is only the beginning of the trick. Yeah, and what happens with me is every time I stick something or learn something new I will always have a week of sticking it, then it’ll disappear on me and I won’t be able to land it. That always seems to happen. So I’ll have to break it down and figure out what I am doing wrong to get it back.

I think a lot of riders from top to bottom have that trouble. Are you going to do all the WBWS stops and the Pro Tour? Yep, I think it will end up being around 14 or 15 events all together. The Nautique Wake Series, the Supra World Pro Tour, The Malibu Pro Series… What about cable? You mentioned you spent a lot of time helping set up the Gold Coast Cable over the AU Summer. Do you ever go to Cable in Orlando? Not really. The first time I went over Aaron Gunn was living at Cory’s, so I rode a bit then, but it’s something that I enjoyed and I want to try and ride it more. It feels like guys like Gunther Oka are insane at both, he rips behind the boat and is super good on the cable. So it seems important over the next few years to make sure I am good at both.

What about the next few years then? I figure they are looking similar to this one, pro events and slowly but surely working your way to the top? Yeah that’s it. This is my first year in Pro Men’s, and after seeing what the guys did at Moomba I definitely need to learn a few things to be able to keep up with those guys. But this year I want to work on being consistent and getting my run dialled as much as possible. Learning a few new things, and hopefully start making finals at some point.

I feel like the best person to give you advice on where you are at is Cory Teunissen, and you’re living with him. Yeah. Cory honestly is really helpful on and off the water. He’s got great nutrition tips. He’s super healthy too, so it’s cool learning from him how to go about, it not just when you are riding but how to look after yourself well too.

So who else has been helpful in your career? My parents, my family—I guess I need to say that without their help I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this wakeboard thing. Tony and Angela.

Best of luck with it all Cobe.
Thanks man!



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