Wakeboard champ at 13
A former Foxton puddle attracting national attention has spawned a New Zealand champion less a year after it opened.
All eyes were on Off The Loop wake-boarding park when Foxton Beach 13-yearold Eve Skewes was crowned the senior women’s champion earlier this year in Hawkes Bay after just a few months in the sport.
“My dad is a kite-surfer and taught me and I was into board sports so when the park opened in Foxton I couldn’t resist,” she said.
“Having a background in kitesurfing helped with corners when I was getting started. I practice three or four times a week and am always trying new things. It’s so much fun.”
“Glen (coach Glen Butcher) has been a massive help. He’s a cool guy and has helped me out heaps.”
Her mother Gry said her daughter had kite-surfed since she was nine, but even she and husband Gavin were surprised at how quickly success had come, and credited the Off the Loop venue.
“We’re very lucky to have it,” she said.
Eve is a student at Poroutawhao School at Koputaroa where she had one week left before the holidays. She would be attending Waiopehu College next year.
The youngster has no plans to rest on her laurels, contesting a national circuit event in Taupo this weekend. She also skateboards, snowboards, surfs, and plays hockey.
Eve was honing her skills alongside reigning men’s champion Jason Heatherlea at the weekend. Heatherlea was lakeside at the park offering tuition to budding young boarders.
Eve was at the park every day practising her skills and having “runs” down the lane, pulling and practising tricks and turns on which they are judged in competition.
The Off the Loop wakeboarding park was celebrating its first anniversary this weekend.
It was the brainchild of Dean Stella, Angela Cook and Glen Butcher, keen kitesurfers who hatched a plan at Foxton Beach one afternoon.
There was no wind that day, which meant no kitesurfing, so boredom led to the idea of a wakeboarding park in a paddock owned by Stella. The paddock was fed groundwater through a natural spring, to create a surface to board on.
The park also created an area for board riders to try tricks and push boundaries with minimal risk of injury.
The impressive 185m-long water park is gaining national acclaim and is the newest of three in the country of its type, but arguably New Zealand’s best, said Stella.
The towers and pulley system was signed off by a specialist engineer and they now had a “Grom Squad” of 24 boarders who trained every Wednesday night, he said.
The park catered for all levels of wake-boarders with one section left clear for learners. Water quality from the spring was monitored regularly.
He said wake-boarding was a popular sport worldwide and was gaining in popularity in New Zealand.
Boarders were judged on their skills in completing different manoeuvres with degrees of difficulty.
NZ champion Eve Skewes in action at the weekend on home puddle at Off The Loop.