In this day and age of wakeskating people have really begun to specialize. When you ask a wakeskater what their best riding is behind; they will most often give you a singular answer. You’ll hear something like cable, boat, winch, etc., but when you ask Andrew Fortenberry this same question you won’t get the same singular answer. Fortenberry isn’t bound to a single mode of riding he learned and perfected his craft behind the jetski on the salty flats of Anna Maria Island. He’s earned his highest competitive achievements behind the boat, and he continues to push the sport of wakeskating into the future behind the winch. This island kid is a gift to wakeskating. He represents the very best wakeskating has to offer in all of its disciplines and we are lucky to have him represent Istudiomo.
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What’s your date of birth ? Where are you from? How long have you been wakeskating? What stance are you?
June 27th 1991, Anna Maria Island, About 12 years I think, and left foot forward (Regular)
How does it feel having your riding ‘mentor’ Nick Taylor, and your underling Travis Belsito in the same film with you. Have you three been able to be a part of the same film before?
Nick and Travis are like brothers to me. So anything that we get to do together is always a good time. It definitely puts me in a different mind set for riding. The three of us haven’t been able to be a part of the same film since we have grown up. Travis and I had a section in one of Roehm’s earlier films “Eidetic”, then Nick and I were a part of the Integrity Wakeskates’ video “Ride Among us” by Mitchell Cobb. So this will be a first for us to all have a part in the same video.
What was it like learning to ride on the Island? How was it having someone to pave the way there? What was it like being able pass on your knowledge to another generation?
Growing up riding on Anna Maria Island was amazing and difficult at the same time. It was great having many different protected mangrove lagoons to hide from the wind, however we had to plan our sets around the tide and always be on the run from the law, FWC. Some of you may know it as Florida Wildlife Control, on Anna Maria we refer to it as “Forget Wakeskating Completely”. With the Island only having one tiny spot that was legal to ride, we ended up on a first name basis with the [FWC] man. Having Nick as a friend and neighbor helped a lot as you could imagine when I got into wakeskating. He was already one of the best when I started so having him coaching me on my riding was a big help. He understands the way I think as well, so he could explain a movement or feeling in clarity for me. Being able to take what Nick had taught me and what I had learned on my own, and pass it down to Travis and the other groms was a good feeling. I was able to give them the experiences that Nick and the other olders guys gave me. It was also a lot of fun watching them grow and progress, as wakeskaters and as humans.
What is your preferred riding location? Why?
Lake Pickett, she has imprinted on me.
Name some of your favorite video parts?
Aaron Reed- Volume Wakeskate Videos Issue 2, Austin Pastura – Human Rocket, Danny Hampson – Stfumato, Danny Hampson – Graceland, Aaron Reed – The road goes on forever, Josh Norman – Ride Among Us, Nick Taylor – Good Ratio, Nick Taylor – Esoteric.. This is too hard I know there is so many I could write down.
What makes those parts so special for you?
They were either parts I watched over and over again before I would ride growing up. Or parts that I look at in awe because of the things they did.
What direction would you like to see wakeskate tricks going in the future?
Ben just did front tail kickflip out on a out ledge… that’s pretty nuts. I think its not long before these guys are doing fliptricks in and out of rails.
If you could have someone’s style for a trick would you? What and who’s trick would it be if you would?
I don’t think I would want the same style as someone for the same exact trick. Although I do really like those Pastura boys’ kickflips.
You recently moved from one of the most amazing spots on Lake Pickett in Florida. What was it like living there?
Living at Pickett was the most amazing time ever. I learned so much about life, myself, and wakeskating. There’s too much to say about Pickett so if you want to hear all about it watch this [laughs]
Wakeskating has taken you down under to Australia during an Obscura Wakeskates trip. How was that what is the wakeskating scene like down under?
Going to Australia with Obscura was the trip of a lifetime. We spent almost 3 weeks there, started in Sydney and then worked our way up the coast. Got stuck in a typhoon for a few days on the beach in Port Macquorie. The Wakeskate scene is pretty big, and everyone is super welcoming and friendly. I got to meet and stay with some truly amazing people. Thanks Boys!
You also rode exceptionally well even to your own elite standards. You did a lot of serious hammers down there 540s off ocean breaks, kickflips and frontside flips down monstrous drops, and you linked together some heavy boat lines. When you travel abroad do you feel extra pressure to perform well?
Hell ya I do. That’s what I came for.
You are considered a jack of all trades on the water. You are technical with your flip tricks, and lock ins. You go big behind the boat, and you have a Byerly Toe Jam Cable title under your belt. Is your versatility on the water something that comes naturally? Or have you worked to keep all your disciplines balanced? Why is the variety so important to you?
I think it is something that came naturally over time. I spent a lot of time behind the boat when I was younger, then more time on the jetski as I grew up. However I do have to work to keep them balanced. The reason its so important to me is so I can fully understand my wakeskate and its capabilities. And I love flying behind the boat.
You became a part of Obscura Wakeskates a company run by two legends Aaron Reed and Danny Hampson. What is like being a part of such a historical line up? What sort of influence do the guys have on you now? Did they have an influence on you before you joined the squad?
Being a part of Obscura is almost like a dream come true. I remember being at one of my first wakeboard contests and just being in love with all the Liquid Force boards. When I got my first wakeskate video, Aaron and Danny were both in it. I have looked up to these guys for as long as I have been wakeskating. And now were on the same team and get to take trips together. It has been a great time.
What are some places that you hope to ride in the future?
Philippines! And anywhere else tropical.
You’ve got more experience filming with Andrew Roehm than just about anyone on this roster.What insights do you have in his methods that the others may not know?
Filming with Andrew Roehm is something I enjoy. His methods are sometimes easier to not try and understand, because the end product always turns out sweet. I don’t question him much because I know he’s doing it all for a set reason, he has the whole video made in his head already.
You have had pretty great success with Roehm in the past. You two produced a fan favorite with ‘Celebration’, and you two also received The Wakeskate Mag’s Web Video of the Year with your follow-up ‘Pay it Forward’. What was it like filming for those two projects? Is there anything you would want to change when filming for Istudiomo?
Filming and traveling for both of those videos was so much fun. We went to so many new places and covered so much new ground. I miss that life. I don’t think there is much I would change, I just want to get back out there.
It’s unfortunate to hear that you tore your ACL recently. The road to recovery with ACL injuries is a long and exhausting one. How has this injury impacted you and your mindset moving forward with your wakeskating? And what are your plans during your recovery period?
Tearing my ACL was definitely a bummer. I had been riding a lot and was feeling good, I was pushing myself harder than I had in awhile. Then when I tore my ACL all of my goals for the season got put on hold. My mindset this whole time has been positive. If anything being un able to ride or compete has given me more drive to come back stronger and with much more appreciation for every opportunity I get to wakeskate. So in the meantime I’m going to stay positive and get my strength back!
The word on the street is you will be one of the judges for The Wakeskate Tour this season having to sit out this tour due to your injury. Judges create champions and losers with every decision they make. For the athletes that will be competing in this season’s tour reading this interview, what are some things that you prefer seeing over others out on the water? How does someone get a solid score from Andrew Fortenberry the judge?
Yup, after my injury I realized I wanted to still be a part of the tour and what better way then to judge. I’ll be looking for fluid clean riding. I would rather see a proper controlled clean simple trick over some wild looking sketchy harder one. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to see people send it, but in order for me to score it high it has to be clean. Other thing I’ll be looking for is consequences. Like what is the consequence to your body if you don’t land it [laughs].
What are you expecting from Istudiomo?
Good memories from traveling and living our dream.
Cinematography by Andrew Roehm
Photography by Andrew Roehm and Mitchell Cobb