Northland man builds own lake to wakeboard

By Te Ao - Māori News

A young Northland man is so passionate about the sport of wakeboarding that he has built his own lake.  His goal is to one day compete at the world wakeboarding champs. 

Reno Henry, of Ngāti Hauā and Te Rarawa, says he has been keen on wakeboarding for as long as he can remember.

"I probably started riding ages ago.  I think the old man came home with an old rusted out boat.  And I probably saw wakeboarding on TV or something and decided to go and get a wakeboard and give it a crack."

While overseas, Henry had the opportunity to develop his wakeboarding skills.

"I used to live in Perth and ride a big cable system over there.  I was working in the mines and I was missing being at home, so ended up buying this block (of land). And I was just like, there's no cables here so I'll just make one in my own backyard."

Originally from Whangape, Henry was raised with one foot on land and the other in the sea.

"I just love being on the water really, whether it be on the water or in the water.  I still like my diving and my fishing too, when the coast is calm and it's good for a dive or a fish you'll catch me out there.  Then when it's not so good or no one's keen to go, I just come out in the backyard and have a spin."

With such a passion for his sport, Henry has spent three years building his own lake for wake-boarding training at home.

"Cable is really cheap to ride, whereas as opposed to a boat it's real expensive. It's actually hard to get into it because you’ve got to start with the boat and then the gears you're looking at heaps of money.  Whereas these things, you can just buy your set up, get a year's pass and a full-sized cable and ride all you want and it's a lot cheaper."

He is currently in training with the upcoming national wakeboard championships in Foxton next month.

"The nationals are coming up in March this year, so I’ve been trying to get out here to get a bit of practice in to put on a good display at the nationals.  If I can’t perform with one of these in my backyard then I must be doing something wrong. But, yeah, it should be good this year."

Now in his early thirties, Henry still has aspirations to compete at the world wakeboard championships.

"Oh man, there's like 18-year-olds and stuff like that who are pushing the boundaries of the sport, so it's hard to keep up with them. They’ll be doing these tricks all day, landing on their face getting smashed, they just get up and keep going. I’m like, 'Wooh'. Two or three of those and I’m like out for a couple of days."   

Report by Dean Nathan for Te Ao.