Oct 3, 2008
Author: John Bryja
Billy Parker is one of the most dynamic riders in the U.S. scene. When
he’s out riding, people stop what they’re doing to watch. His
freeriding between heats of the Gorge Games had other riders’ jaws
dropping and spectators cheering. Parker likes to go big and rides with
a powerful wakeboard style. If more people rode like him, kiteboarding
would be a huge spectator sport.
Born: St. Petersburg, Florida
Started kiting: 2001
“I got into kiteboarding because I was looking for other means to ride besides the wakeboard and cable park. That’s pretty much what I did for seven years before kiting. Once I got into kiteboarding, it just took over my life. I wanted to travel and meet as many other kiteboarders as I could. I love watching the sport progress and being a part of it.”
“I ran into Jeoffrey Nathan, the U.S. Flexifoil rep, in Cape Hatteras while I was going through the Kitty Hawk Kite School program to be certified as a kiteboarding instructor. He was dropping off some kites, and I told him I was interested in becoming a team rider. I told him I had big plans for my kiting future; I was so enthused about the sport. From there I kept in contact, and eventually they started showing me love and I became a team rider.”
Being a Pro
“It’s pretty hard. Competing isn’t the hard part; it’s trying to keep up with the industry and trying to make money at it. It’s not like football or baseball, where you have billions of dollars being put into it. Kiteboarding is still growing and trying to get its focus in the sports world. Until the general public really wants to watch contests and see people ride, there will only be so much money in it. As far as being a pro, I don’t care about the title or money; I ride as much as I can, competing with the best. I just like being around people that love to do what I’m doing.”
“Wake up to a beautiful sunrise, a little bit of breakfast. Starting off with some stretching. Seeing that the wind is blowing 25, 30 knots maybe. I like heavy winds. Doing the wakestyle is fun, but I like the heavy winds. If it’s blowing 25 to 30 knots, it gets the jitterbugs back in me that I use to get when it was only blowing 10 to 15. As long as I’m near the water, get to ride and be around friends, that’s a good time. End the day with some sushi or a barbecue. That, to me, is a perfect day.”
“If you’re in the Gorge and you’re going to do trick, stay away from the sandbar. Wakestyle is not so bad unless you land on your head, but don’t do sent handlepasses in the sandbar. If you miss it, you’re going to fall, and that’s what happened to me. Brian Lake and I were sessioning the kicker on the back side of the sandbar in the Gorge. We decided to go get some water but didn’t because we were having too much fun. The sandbar filled up with water, and we ended up going at it. I did a couple of handlepasses in there, missed one and free-fell 20-plus feet. I landed directly on my lower back in a canon-ball position with my knees over my head in a foot and a half of water. I am lucky I didn’t break anything. If I wasn’t always working out, I might not have been so lucky. I was laid up for three days and sore for two weeks.”
Leaving His Mark
“I like to have fun and push all my friends around me. It’s about more than just trying to be the best. I would like to help make everyone around me better than the day I met them, help them strive for better goals and better things. I’d like to leave that mark in kiteboarding and just be a good friend, being honest and up front. Someone asks your opinion, just give it. If you don’t like something, let it be known but in a good way.”
St. Petersburg Scene
“It’s crazy how big kiteboarding is here. Everybody is just so water-oriented and boardsports-oriented. The local shops have been teaching a lot of lessons. The scene is blowing up so fast. There used to be a bunch of places you could go to ride alone, but now there is always people riding. We’re trying to start a good organization to set up some local voluntary rules to keep everyone safe. When wintertime comes, it’s going to be crazy.
“We don’t have any access issues, and we want to keep it that way. We have a good relationship with the city. A bunch of my buddies have been working on the Action Sport Foundation, which started out as Kite4Life. It’s basically trying to do good things for the community. We’ve been putting on beach cleanups, and Mike Hall organized a beach fun day for 150 orphans. A lot of local kiteboarders came out and were really involved in helping out. We had paddleboards, skimboards and beach games for the kids. It was a lot of fun. We’re trying to promote a good scene for kiting and make sure we’re not just a bunch of kiters going out and doing our own thing. We are concerned about our beaches and community.”
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