Bri Chmel, 24, transformed herself into a World Wakesurfing Champ within one year! We meet the super-determined lady to find out about wedgies, life on the water and what exactly is this wakesurfing lark...
From: Bellingham, WA; Hood River, OR; La Ventana, Mexico; Orlando, FL
Have you always loved watersports? I actually used to be scared of the ocean and waves when I was little, and would have rather swam in a swimming pool. I was really in to snowboarding when I was in high school, and as soon as I graduated I fell in love with kiteboarding. This forced me to get used to the ocean, and ever since then I cannot stay away from a lake, river or ocean.
How did you get into wakesurfing? I was sponsored by Centurion Boats for wakeskating, and went to their annual photo shoot at Boardstock in 2006. While I was there, I watched the World Wakesurfing Championships and promised myself that I would win the next year. After I learned how, I trained for a whole year and won in 2007.
How does it differ from surfing or wakeboarding? Wakesurfing is great because it is an ongoing wave behind the boat that you can surf on with no handle. You can ride until you fall, where as in surfing the wave eventually ends as it gets closer to the beach. Wakeboarding is very different because you do tricks across the wake behind the boat, while hanging onto the handle.
Watch Bri in action... http://mpora.com/videos/90Eqz7Wkm More Extreme Sports Videos >>
When did everything turn serious and you decided to commit yourself to the sport full time? When I was at Boardstock in 2006 I promised myself that I was going to win worlds the next year. But first I had to learn how to wakesurf, so that is when I went straight home and out on the boat.
Can you give us a run down of your average day? Right now I am in school full time. My average day throughout the school year is getting up around 7am, taking cereal to go in my car, going to class until the early afternoon, coming home and running 2 miles, finding someone to go wakesurfing with, doing homework, and then eating dinner and spending the rest of the night with my boyfriend.
And if you could have the perfect day, what would it include? Being in a different country on a secluded white beach with a tiki hut bar. Kiteboarding and surfing on a perfect little wave.
What are your plans for this summer? For the summer I have two months off, and I am going to Oregon and California to kiteboard, wakesurf, and hang out with my family and friends.
What’s your favorite wakesurf spot? It would be pretty neat to go wakesurfing in some exotic location, but unfortunately I have only been on inland lakes, waterways, and rivers. My favorite spot so far is probably Discovery Bay, CA behind the Sellar’s 24 foot Centurion.
How do you prepare for a big competition? Just by practicing my run as much as possible and trying to get as consistent as possible.
Do you still get nervous before a big contest? Yes, of course! It sometimes makes me nervous to see how the other girls are going to ride, especially if I haven’t seen them for a year or so. Before my run I try to pretend that it is just another day out on the water riding with friends.
What is the atmosphere like behind the scenes? Most of the girls seem really nice up front, but they are actually pretty competitive. All of the guys are super cool, and I know most of them around the US. They are super fun to hang out with and ride with. Other than that, there isn’t much going on behind the scenes.
You must travel a lot in your line of work: what are your suitcase essentials? Well, I always travel with my full set of Dakine travel bags and accessories. Other suitcase essentials would be a med kit, swiss army knife, and tons of tank tops, shorts, jeans, sunglasses and high heels.
What have been your biggest career setbacks? I have been pretty fortunate to not have too many large career setbacks. Everything has always run pretty smoothly, besides the minor disappointments here and there.
What have your greatest achievements been so far? My greatest achievements would be getting the first female cover of a kiteboarding magazine on The Kiteboarder in April 2005 and also winning the 2007 World Wakesurfing Championships.
How did the collaboration on your own pro-model wakesurf board come about? I loved the small Piscus board that Calibrated Wakesurfing already made, so I had them turn it into my 2008 Bri Chmel Pro Model. They made the profile of the board quite a bit thinner, and drew up my own custom graphics from a bunch of sample graphics that I provided for them.
Who or what are your inspirations? My main inspirations are my parents. I talk to them every day, and they have the best advice imaginable. They brought me up to be the person that I am today. Also, I have a great amount of drive and passion for everything that I do, so that is where I get my inner inspiration.
What affect does your career have on your personal life? I think that it adds a great deal to my personal life because wakesurfing is a very social sport and you are always with quite a few people on the boat. It is great because you are always meeting new people, and getting to know them while teaching them to ride. I love the time that riding takes up in my life.
How do you relax when you get the chance? I do yoga and stretch on my dock. Other than that, I usually do not sit still.
What’s up next for you? First up are a few contests this summer, with Worlds in September in Nashville, TN. After the season is finished, I will continue to train while completing my marketing and sales BA at the University of Central Florida.