Wake­board champ at 13

Horowhenua Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WILLIAMS

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.

EVE Skewes.

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