caity adele On motherhood and life as a world champion wakeboarder

River Bennett (Photgraphy River Bennett)

 

 

"It's addictive, that rush of wind as the glassy water is carved up beneath your board. The rush of adrenaline as you take a risk, try a new trick…and land it perfectly."

This is a feeling that cannot be ignored by wakeboarding champion, Caitlin Aristobil-Adele. Her love for the sport has taken her all over the world, gaining a world title and a whole host of other achievements in the process. Yet she finds herself grounded in family. It’s been about family from the beginning and continues to be about family as she and her husband, Isaac, raise their new baby boy, Samuel. This is her story…

"I found my passion for wakeboarding as a fourteen-year old in 2004. My dad sent us to a wakeboard camp at Lake Conjola for a week. We had been keen water-skiers since I was four, but wakeboarding was something new. Something I’d never tried before.

I remember that feeling of getting up on the wakeboard for the first time. I picked it up like second nature. It was in that moment I knew this is what I wanted to do. It brought me a huge rush of adrenalin, absolutely pumping with excitement. And I still experience that same incredible feeling today.

After that camp, there was nothing that could keep me off the wakeboard. I would try and convince my Dad to take me wakeboarding everyday. I was constantly learning new tricks from my trainer, Scotty Kell, and wanted to keep practising and practising, jumps after grabs after ollies.

Dad was as proud as punch whenever I would land a new trick and this was what pushed me to keep going. I would go out on the boat with my brother and his friends, all who were already involved in competitions, and I would be constantly comparing their ability to mine. I thought I sucked. But that didn’t stop me. I just loved wakeboarding.

A couple of months later, a friend dragged me to compete in a NSW Wakeboard Comp at Windsor and I ended up placing first. I was so happy! Six months after starting to wakeboard I landed my first back flip. This trick granted me an invite to represent Australia in the national team as a Junior Girl at the World Championships in Seville, Spain. At age sixteen, I began riding with the pros at the Australian Pro Tour.

Wakeboarding has let me travel the world, competing in international championships in Russia, USA, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, the Middle East, China, Singapore and all over Australia. My talent also gave me a role as a wakeboard star in the American 'Capri Sun' TV commercial. The sport introduced me to so many amazing people; professional athletes, judges, event organizers and the families of the friends I ride with. All different ages and backgrounds, yet they have become lifelong friendships.

When I won the World's  I was in the middle of my HSC exams. So I sat one exam and then flew out of Australia to Doha, United Arab Emirates to compete the next day. I performed my comp run, took out the World Title, stood on the podium, held the Australian flag and sung the National Anthem. Then I flew straight back home the next day to sit my final exam. It was very hectic, but such an amazing experience!

I remember standing on the podium, flooded with relief. After three years of training and coming 2nd place half a dozen times, I’d actually done it! The moment when you finally achieve something you have been chasing so badly for so long … it felt so good! I will remember that moment for a very long time. 

My most exciting achievement, however, was in 2013 when I won the Asian Australasia Wakeboard Cup in China for Pro Women. This was the greatest feeling because I won while my husband, Isaac, was watching. There is no better feeling than standing on the podium in front of my number one fan!

The competitions consist of two passes. You perform five tricks on your first pass and five tricks on your second pass. The judges score you based on style, technicality and intensity. It has this way of putting athletes on edge and you can always feel the nerves, even from the strongest of riders. Sometimes the weather and water conditions aren’t ideal, so it’s all about consistency and confidence.

There’s so much involved in preparing for a competition. Leading up to the big titles, I would train throughout the whole year, including every weekend in winter. Gosh, it was cold! Training in rough water, smooth water, in the rain and in the sun. This made me confident that I could perform well in any conditions. I also did psychological training in the early years to help me keep my focus, improve my goal setting and control my nerves. I believe that mental training is paramount to success.

The wakeboarding culture is … one big family. It’s really tight and you learn so much from each other. For many years, I was traveling with Harley Clifford to different wakeboard camps and competitions. We became really close, as the two young kids competing against athletes a lot older than us. Harley taught me the true definition of hard work. He is the best in the world and one of the most respected wakeboarders of all time.

My mum and dad … have been a huge support. Dad has always been very vocal. “You can do it!!” - cheering me on at the sidelines. And Mum, through her constant love, has always instilled such belief in myself. They were both the perfect team of support a kid needs. It must run in the family too. Both my brothers are successful barefoot water-skiers. My older brother has achieved a World Title.

Every summer holiday, Dad would take us to Forster for a couple of weeks. We would each set goals for what we wanted to achieve in water skiing and he wouldn’t pull the boat in until we reached our goals. I remember having a crowd on the bank of the river cheering me on as I attempted to get ten beach starts in a row. I was only 9 years old! I am certain this is what created my ambition and passion for goal setting.

My husband … Isaac is honestly the most supportive person I have ever met. He has really pushed me to keep going. When we found out that we were pregnant, it was at the end of a very busy summer of promo events and competitions. I remember the afternoon that we found out so vividly. I’ll never forget the look on Isaac’s face, it was a look of “I am extremely terrified" but "ridiculously happy" at the same time. I was probably more on the "extremely terrified" side.

I knew of no other female wakeboarders who were married or had babies, so I couldn’t seek advice from anyone else in the same situation. I didn’t wakeboard while I was pregnant and it was pretty tough going out on the boat with friends and only being able to sit and watch. But it was only three weeks after Samuel was born, that I decided my body felt ready to get back on the board. When I went wakeboarding for the first time in nine months, I felt like I had lost a little confidence, but I decided that nothing would hold me back.

Motherhood is … the most amazing gift I have ever been given. Of all the competitions I have won, the goals I have achieved, the tricks I have landed and the places I have been, the feeling I get when Sam looks at me beats any other feeling. I love him so much it makes me sick! There is nothing else like it.

Becoming a parent has definitely changed me. I feel like I am more naturally loving. I have a whole new level of love for people. Motherhood has made me feel more powerful and more ambitious.  And I’m thankful I am able to express that through wakeboarding.

The future for a mum in the wakeboard industry ... is exciting! I still have more goals I want to achieve and all our friends in the wakeboard scene are very supportive. My husband and my new son are always going to be my main focus, as I work to reach my peak performance and get back into competitions. I plan to have my kids involved in the wakeboard industry. To what capacity, I don’t know, but I’m sure they will have no choice but to have the same love of water as we do. 

Worse injury while wakeboarding?

I was competing in the Nationals in 2008, when I attempted a switch heel side backroll. I landed the trick but snapped my leg and ruptured my ACL. I had a knee reconstruction and was out for 9 months. I was devastated and it was a very dark time for me, but when I returned to wakeboarding, I was stronger than ever and I was competing again internationally 18 months later. 

Greatest indulgence?

Champagne and cheese.

Any more children? 

We definitely want more children! I’m sure it won’t be long until we will be meeting number two. We'll see…

Life after wakeboarding? 

Isaac and I plan to be involved in the industry for a long time. Isaac has been a part in the ProWake Team, a representative for Tige Boats and also pushing the sport from a grass roots level helping with promotion of the Wakeboard NSW. I hope to continue wakeboarding for as long as I can. I believe my family is as close as we are today because of the times we spent together out on the boat almost every weekend in summer. I hope I can provide that lifestyle for my kids because they were some fun times! 

Any advice to other Wolfpackmrs mothers on determination and how to keep pursuing your dreams after children?

If you could wave a magic wand and have your ideal life, what would it look like? What would you be doing? Who would be in your life? Asking myself this makes my goals more clear to me and lets me be more determined to live my dream life now. 

 

 

 

 

For more on Caity Adele check out:

@caityadele