Home' Whangarei Leader : January 22nd 2013 Contents REVIEW
by DENISE PIPER
Get attached to new sport
Great fun: Cable wakeboarding is heaps of fun and easy to pick up.
Photos: MATTHEW SPRAGG
All smiles: The
fresh water is
Soft landing: I think I'm going to . . .
. . .crash!
Anxious anticipation: Feeling a little nervous before we
Adventure tourism in Whangarei
seems like a great idea but an
industrial site at Ruakaka seems
an unlikely place to start.
Ruakaka s Lakeside Business
Park is now home to Northland s
Lakeside Cable Wake park.
Never heard of a cable wake
Neither had I until I read about
Dave Kay, who created the Rua-
kaka cable wake and has just
found success at the Wake Park
Yes, there is a world champion-
ship series for a sport most Kiwis
would not have heard of.
Cable wakeboarding is like
wakeboarding but instead of a boat
towing the rider, they are pulled by
an electronically driven cable.
The idea started in Europe
where many people were concerned
about the environmental effects of
boats towing wakeboarders willy
nilly just for a bit of sport as well
as objecting to the tens of thou-
sands of dollars needed to buy a
good-quality wakeboarding boat.
Using Kiwi ingenuity, Dave built
the two-tower systems on a fresh-
water lake created by sand mining.
He essentially built it for himself
and his friends but when he sold
his business to Matthew Spragg
and moved to Hong Kong, Matthew
saw the potential in the cable park.
Matthew -- latterly from Hong
Kong but Christchurch born and
raised -- has been working with the
landlord to convert the lake from
an industrial site to a tourist park.
There are now cabins and planting
around the lake, and changing
rooms being fitted out.
The business has been going for
about a year and is getting busier,
The park attracts top Auckland
boarders but is also known for
Most people can stand up and
control the board in five to 10
minutes, he says.
But as I sit bobbing in a seat-like
position about to start, I have to
admit I am nervous.
Despite being a surfer and confi-
dent in the water I have had mixed
success skurfing (like skiing
behind a boat but on a surfboard)
and I have just about erased the
painful memories of my one
attempt at snowboarding.
What if it is like the time I could
not stand up on my skurfboard, I
Or, worse still, what if it is like
trying to ride a T-bar lift with a
snowboard -- when you painfully
fall on your behind and you are left
stranded with no cable to hold on
to?I need not have worried. Mat-
thew was not lying when he said
most people pick it up quickly -- he
was not even lying about the water
being warm despite a stiff breeze.
I stand up on my first run and
manage to control the board going
in a straight line until the end.
OK, so I had some hiccups on my
second run but overall it is easy to
Safety does come first and all
users wear supplied life jackets
and helmets. Instead of being fully
booted into a wakeboard, you are
gently strapped into a kiteboard.
Matthew makes the lightweight
paulownia wood boards at his Rua-
kaka factory and it is easy enough
to get in and out of the straps if you
do fall off.
While I find getting up and going
fairly easy, turning around at the
end is something else.
I blame the fact that I really
have no idea what I am supposed
to be doing, let alone what I am
The key, says Matthew, is
momentum, with the idea being
like a swinging pendulum -- swing
out wide while you have speed so
you can go around when the cable
stops and reverses.
The trouble I have, particularly
at the far end, is judging just when
the cable will stop and being ready
But I did it at the starting end
with some good hand instructions
from Matthew, so I knew I had it in
After several attempts, I start to
get tired in my biceps, forearms
and upper thighs.
Matthew suggests I try body
dragging just for a bit of fun.
Being dragged along by your arms
with your body bobbing around in
the water may not sound like a lot
of fun but trust me, it is laugh-out-
Matthew recommends a break
and we sit in the new deck area.
There is something so very
Northland about this place; I could
see my family and friends having a
picnic and a few beers while each
one gives the cable wakeboarding a
go.Christmas work dos and birth-
day outings have been all the rage
this summer, Matthew says.
He recommends three-to-four
people an hour on the cable but
there is no limit to how many peo-
At $60 an hour it is not unafford-
He shows me some of the photos
he has taken of me on the cable
park. I am squinting in most of
them but that is my smiley face.
It is just about time for me to go
but I agree to one last loop. This
time I nail the turn at the end and
came back in one swoop.
Easy, I say with a huge grin.
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