Rob McWhinnie is one of those people who live a little "off-the-grid"; they seem to float around the ether before landing in front of you with a bang. Rob has been a quiet achiever for a while, but now he looks set to make his mark. He's a gifted all-round skater possessed of an effortless style, and with a new-found determination to dominate the downhill scene.
We caught up with Rob at his pad in the heart of Bomb Squad territory.
Enough of that mountain air there Rob, this plane is set for arrival...
1. What's your name, your nickname, your hometown and your age?
Robert J McWhinnie aka Stinky, born and bred in Bathurst. I’m 23 years young, been in Sydney for the last 5 years.
2. Your occupation?
Full time chef, I love cooking, its one of my major passions in life; creating, cooking, eating and just enjoying a meal with the people that matter most. It started as necessity, like most cuisine. I needed to cook for myself when parents would go on holiday and I just took the first job opportunity away from home once 18.
Smashing down Keira
I used to stand for days chopping and whisking in the kitchen getting sore legs and feet, now I work on leg strength, practicing my tuck stance while behind the kitchen bench for hours on end still chopping and cooking. I have a great boss at the moment who has supported me in the past and is providing me with some new NJKs for the race, I guess he wants me back in one piece.
3. How long have you been riding for, and do you skate other styles?
I have been skating for an easy 15 years. Started on a street board riding in Bathurst through the city, in the schools and uni looking for stairs and gaps, then some older guys built a wooden skate park at the local PCYC, big-up to Stackers and the guys who put their own money in so that I had some where to learn.
Once I moved to Sydney I got in touch with Fitz; I had been great mates with his little bro. Fitz threw me in the deep end when we did a mission to Katoomba at night and rode the main street and onwards, Fitz was riding a 42-inch with Fly Wheels and I was on my street board. Listening to the bearings scream at me that night as I held tuck in the dark following another nutter down was the beginning of my downhill journey.
4. What do your parents say about your skating?
My parents/santa gave me my first board so they had to accept the responsibility for the outcomes. I was once banned for a year from skating by them, after a costly broken arm Jim and Bern didn’t want any more accidents. In that time I won regional and city comps in under 18’s and Opens from Bathurst to Orange and out to Mudgee and Parks, using fake names when entering comps. It’s now completely different and has been for a while, skating has been such a huge part of life for so long and is always changing so they like to be kept updated, though the stacks are left out of any stories I may tell them.
5. What's the gnarliest road you've ridden?
If you know Gnar Park on Broadway, and have ridden on a Thursday night with the Bomb Squad then you know what gnarly is; it's a roof-top start with blacked out first-level down-ramp, it quickly gets the heart racing, each down-ramp has a different obstacle, either boom gates to pendy under or speed humps to early grab over but that's just for fun; the gnar explodes when the first express 3 level up-ramp comes on course, quickly followed by the 5 level express up-ramp, single lane surrounded by concrete and iron bars, damn I learned how to slide in a straight line quickly.
But on the other hand I have never ridden a mountain like 7 Pins until lately either; it really makes everything else look like a warm-up roll. Jacko, B-rad, Gabe, Benbro and I had blistering runs a month ago coming out of hairpins accelerating up to 70 odd in to the next epic hairpin followed by rollercoaster ride in and out of the forest down the valley.
Two completely different runs but the same board and the same rush and both the highest Gnar factor.
Rolling with Jacko, searching for some draft
6. What's your plan of attack for Newton's?
To go fast and win! Newton's is the rare chance to ride and meet the best of the best, to learn and talk and to push yourself as far as your ever been. I plan to make the most of the practice sessions as possible, feeling comfortable with the riders around you either racing or free riding is very important. I want to know who's going to stack, who's doing stand-up slides in to Forest Elbow, and where I can ride in between before the racing begins. It's also a chance to free-ride and help push the Sydney DH Crew faster.
7. You grew up in Bathurst - will the McWhinnie clan be there to see you race?
For sure, they know it's a big thing and they can see some amazing riding all day. My wife Magalita will be staying in camp with us all, having a great time meeting the guys I ride with and supporting me on the race track. Maga is skipping her Uni Graduation ceremony to get to Newton's, so it means a lot to me and is very important she’s there.
8. You raced last year at Newton's and then watched your rivals get good results in Europe and the US. Do you plan to race overseas?
Yes, I plan to get to Europe next year, I want to race/free ride as part of the leading Australian crew overseas. Showing the rest of the world what I'm capable of and creating great memories of riding epic roads with good mates.
I will be travelling to South America for my second wedding and one major skate trip to Ollaytaytambo and Ticlio, both mountains over 4,000 meters high and take 3-4 hours to descend on boards. It's going to be very unique, riding with the best in Peru and Chile; the DHORDIE (Peru) team showed me around earlier this year, the major hills were unrideable due to land slides and river crossings but late night city sessions rocked.
Watching Jacko via ASRA ride overseas this year and last has kept me pushing my limits knowing that it is possible to get to the top of your game and still go faster, plus if he’s going hard over there racing we can't be left in the dust when he gets back, so I dreamed of racing at Graveyard and Italy and would ride Kiera and Hawks the next day as if I was there.
9. What do you think the race scene will be like in five years time?
Gabe will be flying the Australian flag high on the world cup podium, the No. 1 Grom is going so hard and learning so much and has just been picked up by Hopkin Racing team; he’s going to be all over this sport in five years.
It's only a matter of time before the Asian downhill scene bursts open and we have an Australasian competition and a new competitor on the World Series. I think that the media will get a hold of the sport soon and we will see sports channels covering events; it will provide advertising and funding and hopefully make the races bigger and better.
10. What's your ultimate skate ambition?
100km/h stand up slides,
naa, a world cup podium finish,
naa, paid to skate with my mates on the raddest hills around the world with my wife in the follow car and an esky of beers in the back.
11. Any sponsors you feel like mentioning?
It took 15 years to get a sponsor so when Jacko brought the news that there was a spot on Hopkins Race Team for me I was stoked, the Hop Shop has been supporting Sydney riders and Australian's overseas and will open some amazing opportunities in the future; thanks Hop, Jacko and Robbo at the Hop Shop from me, Gabe and Luca. I'm gonna shred some gnar like you won’t believe.
Thanks to The Golden Sheaf Bistro in Double Bay for all the great burgers, oh and the new NJK's; Chris Stockdale you’re a Champion, I never thought I’d get new leathers and have always wondered how fast you can go in them. Thanks again mate, you believe in me and have gone out of your way to help me out, won’t forget it, TRY THE BURGER!!!
Thanks to ASRA and Sydney City Bomb Squad, all the riders that I roll with, your encouragement and support mean the most of all.
See you at the Newton's,
Rob-style in Peru