I don’t know how to describe THIS GUY.
Let’s start with the basics, is Lewy your actual name or is it short for something? No Lewy is short for Lewis. I’m actually Lewis.
You’ve got to know Lewy to appreciate how constantly on the verge of ‘funny’ a conversation with him is. You might read the above as mundane but when you’re talking with Lewis Kevin Watt he has a humourous tone that makes you never quite sure where any given sentence will lead. With him, Lewis, isn’t spoken, it’s somewhat ironically pronounced. “I’m ‘Loo Wis” with a sharp end. “Lou Wis. Kev In. Watt.”
My Grandma called me Lewy. Born in what year? 1998, April 1st. April 1st!? April Fools, Yeah, Yeaaah. Where? I was born in Canberra. In the city? Canberra Hospital.
So you’re a straight born and bred Canberrean? I’m ACT yep. But I live in Sutton now, so I’m actually in NSW. But I work in Canberra.
Where do you ride in ACT? There is a little river called Malonglo. But we have a cabin on at Good Hope Resort.
What is it, Good Hope? Yeah, Good Hope, Like ‘Goood’ Hope.
Yeah, Ok I get it, Good Hope. Yeah, so we have a cabin on the Murrumbidgee River at Good Hope Resort. We’ll go out there for the weekends and stuff, so that place is sick. It’s super mountainie, so you can always find some sick water there.
Yeah, I went to Canberra once.
How was it? When was it?
When I was in Grade six.
Yeah, School Camp? How was it? Where did you go?
To the parliament house but, that’s not the impressive part.
Our group met John Howard.
No way, No way. Did you get a photo with him like on your Nokia or what?
Nah, if I had of pulled a Nokia out of my Ninja Turtles Backpack, I’d have been considered a Wizard or a terrorist and burnt at the stake. This was way before mobile phones.
On your Polaroid camera then or what?
Ha, yeah, that’s about right. Polaroid were all the rage about then.
I had a Nokia in Primary school.
Yeah, that’s ‘cause you’re only 18 years old.
I remember when I was in Primary school, because a couple of other kids had phones and I thought that was pretty cool, I used to take a little flip phone Nokia and I used to pretend that it had a sim card in it.
You did? And you pretended to get phone calls?
Yeah, I thought I was a mad dog back in primary school, I just used to pretend that I got calls and stuff, like I would pretend to text people. Fully pretend that I was calling people but really all I would do was play snake on it.
Ha. So it was a charged phone but without a sim.
Ahh yeah, I’d charge it every night but I’d just play games on it and act like I was texting people.
So when you say you were doing that, it wasn’t as a laugh, you were genuinely trying to impress people?
Ahh yeah, I was year 5 or 4, trying to be cool. All the girls loved it, they were all like ‘look at Lewy over there texting. The teacher’s gunna catch him’ I was just a bad boy back in the day because of the Nokia.
So you got tough street cred from girls ‘cause you spent your time fake texting on your Nokia flip phone in 2007?
Ha Ha Yep. Love it.
Right, back to this, you’re at Good Hope Resort. Riding away?
Yeah, but lately through summers I’ve just been trekking around Aus riding with Thorry Heaney and David Thorpe on the Malibu Just Ride Tour. Just Trekking through the countryside riding behind the 22 MXZ Wakesetter. Which has been pretty sick actually, I love that thing. It’s off the charts that thing (the Wakesetter 22MXZ). It’s gansta as.
Who did you grow up riding with?
Well, my dad barefooted a bunch so I actually started barefooting as a kid. I had my buddy down the road, Josh Slarke. He and I would stay in the cabins at Good Hope and just go for a rip.
It wasn’t until I met some actual Wakeboarders in Canberra, Jobe Rech and Justin McMahon who pretty much just introduced me to Wakeboarding. I never really knew what was going on with it, but pretty much from the time me and Josh started Wakeboarding we just loved it hey, all he and I thought about was just Wakeboarding all the time.
I remember feeling that way when I was young.
That is all we thought about hey, we didn’t think about anything else. Later, Josh kind of fell off or lost interest but I just kept going with it. Kept on it. Kept loving it.
How long ago was that?
I think I really got into it around 11 or 12. Nah, I was 11.
Your sister Holly is following in your footsteps?
Well I only have silver at worlds so I’m kind of striving to be like her.
Your sister is better than you?
Yeah, she is two-time world champion I think.
As a Nokia owning 11 year old barefooter. You must have had all the girls?
You know what, back then, I didn’t care. That’s all I think about now hey! Ha. But back then, nah, it was only about Wakeboarding.
Well, you were only 11 I guess.
Exactly. I was frothing on wakeboarding, I remember back then I used to love Chris Flaxman’s edits. I would just watch those things over and over, all the Cable boys, Matty Denitis and anyone from Penrith.
“I’ve been trying to make my riding super interesting and unique from any other Jnr rider out there. I’ve been concentrating hard on what my riding looks like.” – LEWY
You like Cable, I thought you were a boat guy?
I love Cable, ‘cause as soon as I got into Wakeboarding I started riding Cable a lot.
What!? Where? In Canberra?
Nah, me Kev (Kevin Watt – Lewy’s Dad) and Holly would pretty much take the trip to Penrith every weekend. Like day trips sometimes and everything. 3 & a half hours. He loved it just as much as we did. I guess that is how I really got started. I owe a lot to Kev, like every weekend he would take us anywhere we wanted to go just as long as we were Wakeboarding, he loved it. Every weekend there and back, you know on a Sunday up at 4am, in the winter too.
The last couple of years for you has seen you excel as a rider, is that a fair thing to say.
Yeah, well, when I won three national titles in boat and one in cable. I was doing heaps of tricks and stuff, but in Wakeboarding I feel like even though you can be the best comp rider or whatever, I feel like it wasn’t until I started focusing on my free-riding that I began to get more exposure. Like, I love the magazines and stuff. You know, videos, I have always been drawn to the Wakeboard culture rather than the Comp scene. So I guess the way I have tried to aim my riding now is … well I mean obviously I want to be the best contest rider … but I always wanted to be known as someone who could do cool tricks too. Making whatever you are doing look sick, you know what I mean, sick looking stuff, instead of super tech. I mean that’s the way of the last couple of years for me. I’ve been trying to make my riding super interesting and unique from any other Jnr rider out there. I’ve been concentrating hard on what my riding looks like.
I think that effort shows, you don’t ride like anybody else on the Jnr Series. How many comps did you compete in in the States?
I rode the whole Jnr Series, the Malibu and Nautique series. So I probably rode in about 10 or 11 contests, but like I honestly shot photos in the States more than I rode comps this year, maybe 20 or so shoots. The main thing I want to start doing more of, is getting content for website and magazines. Photos of me need to start turning up on your desk you know! At the end of the day what is a podium shot compared to a cover shot?
Honestly a cover to me would be worth more than a world title.
Sure, but comp results are something too. Run us through your actual comp results as a Jnr?
I won 10-14 boys, Australians Nationals twice, a silver at ISWF Worlds I think in 2013, then Jnr Mens on the U.S. Pro tour I got third overall, that was last year. This year I flew straight to Vegas I won the first contest in Jnr Mens at The 2016 Malibu Rider Experience, I was pretty stoked thinking that the season was going to go really good. But I guess in the second comp I was top seed and I tend to over think myself with that stuff and I didn’t even make it to the finals. My mental game was all over the place I guess. But when I was riding in Orlando over the summer, I was riding the best I have ever ridden, though I’d go to contests and I’d just blow it for some reason. I kept going on the tour though, I got a couple of thirds and a second then at the WWA Worlds in Canada so that was a pretty good finish to the year.
Yeah, I guess in comps you can ride like shit on the day, then watch the eventual winner and think to yourself F**k I rode better than him yesterday.
Yeah but that’s what I like about them (contests) ‘cause I love the drama. You know it’s like ‘who knows who’s going to win?’ But I don’t get nervous or anything, it’s just that I over think it.
You just signed with Jet Pilot, you are riding on the Byerly Team now you are sponsored by Malibu. They are some pretty solid sponsors.
Yeah, the day that I went on the Byerly shoot, I’ll be honest, I was super nervous. Walking down to the dock and guys like Byerly, Rathy, Brenton are all there, but after about 30 minutes I honestly felt so at home.
Jet Pilot is pretty big for me too. JP are obviously the big dogs in Australia, they are the number one. If you go anywhere with water you’ll see somebody wearing JP boardies or life jackets. I feel like they are such a driving force behind Wake in Australia so I am pumped to be riding for them. Then Malibu, obviously I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.
What about the Just Ride Tour?
(David) Thorpe and Thorry (Heaney) pretty much just get me on the tour when they need me. I am pretty close to the Malibu HQ in Albury so it’s convenient. But any chance I get to go ride on the tour, I am keen you know what I mean? Thorpie honestly believed in me when no one else did. I can honestly say that him and Thorry have been a big part of my upbringing.
I feel like I knew a little bit about you before you started on the Just Ride Tour, but seeing you first hand on the tour, I was like ‘What the Hell!? this kid is crazy good” So I feel like the exposure you have got with the Just Ride Tour has been good for you. Do you feel that too?
Actually, the first time I met you was at a Malibu dinner in Melbourne and you were basically sitting on Tinder the whole time! Are you a Tinder Fiend?
Ha. You know well, alright, when I am in Canberra I am not on Tinder. I mean, Canberra is not a big place I do not want to run into anybody that I have seen or has seen me on Tinder. But when I am in the States I may or may not have a couple of cheeky swipes going on!
I feel like I am too old for something like that. Plus, I feel like everybody on the street would be looking at me having either swiped left or right, it would be shit.
Whoa, hold on I have 1% left on my battery, hold on I just got to run to my room.
I’m back, yeah, what were we saying?
That I would feel paranoid if I was on Tinder.
Yeah true, but it’s getting like Facebook. Everybody is on it. Plus it is generally a good way to meet people. But not a chance in my home town you know what I mean.
Do you have any good Tinder Stories?
Hang on, let me think of something (pauses for a while) I don’t think I have any good ones.
Alright. What about the story about you telling Thorry’s girl that you love her?
Hold on, which one!?
The one on speaker phone.
Oh yeah, that was this girl, oh that was so funny. He was talking to her on the speaker while we were driving to Bonnie Doon and he was saying something, and I talked over him to say something like ‘yeah, yeah, I love you’ and she was like ‘I love you too’ and then Thorry looked at me and was like ‘she just thought that was me telling her I love you, you dickhead’ She didn’t even know I was there. So basically now Thorry has put the ‘L’ word out there without actually putting it out there, all because I was trying to have a little bit of banter. I don’t think he is that happy with me!
What about you and girls? Do you ever use the “I’m a Pro Wakeboarder line” then lift your eyebrows a little like Millhouse does to Lisa?
Ahhh, nah. I mean maybe a couple of years ago, when all the boys were single. Somebody would get a Tinder date and they would bring friends out in the boat. You know we’d have a bit of a wakesurf. A little bit of a boogie you know, then just party on. There were usually even numbers, never creepy or anything. Just you know, good times.
Yeah, but honestly I’ve never used the “I’m a Pro Wakeboarder”. True, I would never say that.
Who is we?
Just the boys you know! Ha. I don’t want to get anyone into trouble.
So who did you live with in America?
I lived with Harley this year.
And you plan on going back to the States next year obviously? Yeah, I think I am going to step up to Pro Mens. Right. I can go one more year in Junior Pro Mens if I want. I definitely have been given a lot of advice on it, but I mean I think I am going with what I feel. I have heard about what everyone else thinks but I am going to go with my gut on it. At the end of the day, it is my decision and I am pretty much set on stepping up.
I feel like that is a better plan. Yep. Righto then, I am pretty much set. Yep, I’m gunna do it. Do it. I am. Did you just decide that right in front of me? Yep, pretty much.
Are you optimistic about being able to financially support yourself through becoming Pro?
Ummm, well, I mean, I am working as an apprentice plasterer at the moment too for my dad’s business. That’s how I afford to do what I do. I work six months on the tools then 6 months on Wakeboarding in the States. I would obviously like to be a Pro Rider and make money out of it, but you know I just want to keep doing it regardless.
Yeah, I see you can have a career, and pay your way even, but then I wonder at what point do you transcend from simply funding a fun life to making a good living. Just how many riders can actually do that.
I mean, that’s something that I will have to think about. I want to make a good living out of it. But honestly, all I am thinking about now is how to keep doing it. I make money in Oz over the summer here then and that pays for me to go to the States. Last year I ran out of money with about two weeks to go, I had to get some help from the folks, but you know, I am loving the life so it’s worth it for now. Hopefully in the future with my sponsors now I won’t have to worry about falling short but…
The price is worth it for now?