Collin Harrington: Mr. Everything
To say that Collin Harrington is a well-rounded guy would be an understatement. If you asked anyone who knew Collin “Who would you want to be with if you were trapped in a jungle?” his name would pop up in almost every answer. You would no doubt be five times more likely to survive, with his uncanny ability to do everything. Add the fact that he would not talk your ear off, but on choosing to speak, he’d most likely say something important. Collin doesn’t waste his time telling stories that are trivial or uninteresting. Name a random place on Earth and Collin most likely has been there or has a cool story about it, but he won’t express that in a condescending or cocky way. Quiet confidence, on the other hand, is not something Collin lacks. It would ooze out of you if you had done half the things he has done. He has many contradicting qualities, but that just adds to his mystique. He is a techy videographer geek, yet a guitar-jamming hippie. He is a multisport jock, yet he fully embraces the free-ride attitude. Catch Collin on any day of the year and you know exactly what you are going to get. He’s a jack-of-all trades, master-of-most who, if you ask him, is “just trying to pay the bills.” Having known Collin for more than 10 years, I find his way of paying the bills among the most enviable.
Ben Greenwood: I think everyone is confused about where you’re from.
Collin: Well, we’ll go way back. I was born in Lewes, Delaware, which is the first town in the first state in America. I just learned that this year.
Do you have a sense of patriotism from that?
Collin: I do. I’m kind of proud now. You know, first of the first.
So where do the Keys come into play, and then all the boating stuff?
Collin: My dad lived and worked on fishing boats since he was 14 years old and ended up becoming a commercial fisherman, catching swordfish, tuna and whatever else you can think of. Basically, he didn’t like the cold weather. When I was 5 months old we moved to Maryland and spent summertime in Ocean City, Maryland, and wintertime in the Florida Keys. Basically my dad just chased the fish back and forth with the weather and that was that.
When did you end up in Orlando?
Collin: I moved to Orlando in 2000. In Maryland I’d surf and inline skate all summer, and I wanted to pursue either of those as a career. Then I’d go to the Keys and there are no waves so I would just wakeboard all summer. I graduated from high school in the Keys, so I was like, all right, I’m pumped on wakeboarding at the moment, so I think I’ll go to Orlando and go to college there and then try to do the Pro Tour. So I graduated high school in 2000 and instead I actually moved to New with a buddy that I wakeboarded with in the Keys. He had a one-bedroom apartment and I slept on the couch for like three or four months and would surf every day and then drive to OWC pretty much every other day from New Smyrna, which is about an hour and 20 minutes.
Right, I remember your being pretty heavily into OWC when I first started coming around.
Collin: Yeah, I was an absolute cable rat when I was younger. I didn’t know anybody here, so I would just go to the cable. I’d do work and teach random lessons for Mike Ferraro and he would pull me for a free set here and there instead of paying me. That’s when I first met Brian Grubb. He was a cable rat and we used to ride together. Brandon Thomas was there too. He was a little younger and we would just do laps all day.
So your rise to success in wakeboarding was not the typical path, agreed?
Collin: Yeah, not really. I mean, I didn’t know anything about wakeboarding as a career. I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I’d never even met a pro until I moved to Orlando. So it was like I simply had an idea and just kind of went with it.