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Feature on Long Boarding in Wellington. Sunday 23 February 2014.Longboarding

When Paddy Howard came off his long­board at 60km/h he didn’t think for a moment that he should find a more peace­ful recre­ation­al pur­suit. Even boun­cing off the slightly uneven path near Ngaur­anga Gorge and badly scrap­ing his knee didn’t hinder his desire to come back and con­tin­ue ‘bomb­ing’ hills (to bomb = to race to the end).

It doesn’t have to be so bumpy. Wel­ling­ton has an abund­ance of areas where the pave­ment is smooth and provides a con­crete play­ground. There are hot­spots in Aro Val­ley and — if you are look­ing for more of a chal­lenge — Brook­lyn, near the upper end of Ashton Fitch­ett Drive, close to the wind tur­bine. The safest areas to ride are non-inter­sect­ing roads, and most riders choose to go out at night when there is less traffic.

Chris Sander­son, a mem­ber of the Wel­ling­ton Long­board Asso­ci­ation (WLA), says that “90 per­cent of people don’t know that I’m there on the road, and the oth­er ten per­cent are out to get me”. He is adam­ant that he has rights, and that boarders will be hurt if people aren’t care­ful. “We just hope people will do the right thing.”

In 2014, 15 and 16 March marked the annu­al Wind Tur­bine Race. Start­ing just metres from the Brook­lyn wind tur­bine, the event saw riders nav­ig­at­ing a 1km time-tri­al run. Con­di­tions on the day made for some impress­ive slides, mean­ing that riders had to be care­ful nav­ig­at­ing corners. Hel­mets, gloves and kneep­ads are obvi­ous safety neces­sit­ies, as riders reach speeds of over 50 km/h — the weekend’s quick­est time was recor­ded at 1 minute 13 seconds. Assist­ance from ambu­lance crews is also on hand, which is cru­cial as one par­ti­cipant dis­lo­cated his shoulder dur­ing a run.

Typ­ic­ally, riders arrange to meet up on Sundays via the WLA Face­book page, often at the ‘spir­al’ link­ing Thorndon Quay and the Fran Wilde Walk approach to West­pac Sta­di­um near the Wel­ling­ton Rail­way Sta­tion. New­bies can bor­row a board and start with the basics.

WLA’s spon­sor­ship expert, Rachel Lon­don, encour­ages every­one to give long­board­ing a go. With one of the group’s old­est mem­bers being 57 years of age, what excuse have you got? Feature on Long Boarding in Wellington. Sunday 23 February 2014.

Feature on Long Boarding in Wellington. Sunday 23 February 2014.


(C)Mark Tantrum, All rights reserved

A web of lines forms across Aro Park; an unusu­al sight to see on a Sunday after­noon. Is it tightrope walk­ing? Not quite. It’s some­thing a little more dynam­ic: slacklining.

The spoJuan Javier Valdivieso on his gap year from Ecuador Slacklining at Te Aro Park on Sunday 9 March 2013.rt can be described as an exer­cise in bal­ance using nylon or poly­es­ter webbing, held between two anchor points, and devotees con­sider it to be more dynam­ic than tightrope walk­ing. The ten­sion and thick­ness of the webbing can be adjus­ted to suit the user and what they are try­ing to achieve. There are a num­ber of options: high­lin­ing, trick­lin­ing, longlin­ing and even water­lin­ing. Enthu­si­ast Mor­gan Plain says that trick­lin­ing involves chest bounces and butt bounces. Longlin­ing is per­formed on a 2.5cm-thick line, and the longer the line is, the harder it becomes to keep your bal­ance all the way across.

Fish­Head pho­to­graph­er Mark Tan­trum tried it out, and found ini­tially that main­tain­ing his bal­ance was a real chal­lenge. “If you are los­ing your bal­ance, you move your hands as opposed to your feet, in order to regain bal­ance. The trick is also to zone out and focus on a ref­er­ence point,” says Plain. A ref­er­ence point becomes harder to focus on when you are high­lin­ing, for example, as you are often posi­tioned above water mov­ing below you, and your bal­ance can be thrown off.

Mor­gan says that his line is no more than “a fancy truck tie-down” that set him back a mod­est $80 on Trade Me, although Gib­bon Slack­lines is con­sidered the go-to com­pany for any­thing slack­line related. The com­pany also provide tree pro­tect­ors, which are cru­cial when the lines are set up around trees, as in Aro Park. The pro­tect­ors pre­vent rings form­ing around the trees due to wear and tear.

Gib­bon Slack­lines have a risk assess­ment form out­lining what slack­liners should con­sider before each walk. A line for learners, they sug­gest, should be no more than 50cm off the ground. Safety pads are also recom­men­ded, to min­im­ise risk of injury.

The Wel­ling­ton Slack­line Col­lect­ive is in the pro­cess of becom­ing an incor­por­ated soci­ety, which will allow them to fun­draise for equip­ment and events, and they suc­cess­fully ran their own slack­line fest­iv­al at Frank Kitts Park last year.

Les Mills per­son­al train­er Luis Carvalho has been look­ing into the health bene­fits of slack­lin­ing. He told Fish­Head that research car­ried out by Aus­trali­an Physio­ther­apy Asso­ci­ation sports ther­ap­ist Philip Gabel describes slack­lin­ing as “a nov­el meth­od to enhance quadri­ceps recruit­ment, core strength and bal­ance con­trol”. Slack­liners con­sider the sport to be a less strenu­ous exer­cise option for people suf­fer­ing from knee injur­ies — all the more reas­on to ‘slack off’, as they say!

(C)Mark Tantrum, All rights reserved


Jamie Macdonald flies his kite around in front of Maranui Cafe as he gets ready to head out for a kite surfing session at Lyall Bay.

When the winds at Lyall Bay reach gale force, that’s when the ‘Best Kite­board­ing’ flag is raised. The flag sig­nals where to meet, and on that stormy day I lost most of the cir­cu­la­tion in my fingertips!

Kite board with foot-straps attached on a park bench while everyone decides wether they are going to brave the southerly storm or not.           Bri­an Wal­ters met up with us to give us an insight into the sport of kite­sur­f­ing and board­ing. Bri­an — who is sponsored by Best Kite­board­ing, a brand star­ted by pion­eer Shan­non Best — told me “there are three prom­in­ent cat­egor­ies in the sport: wave rid­ing, free­style and big air”. Kite­sur­f­ing fuses ele­ments of surf­ing and is used when rid­ing boards strap­less (in oth­er words, you not attached to the board) in the surf. Kite­board­ing, how­ever, is more like wake­board­ing (itself a fusion of water ski­ing and snow­board­ing), rid­ing the twin-tip boards asso­ci­ated with freestyle.

Gabe Laing-Aiken has been kite­board­ing for three years. He star­ted out at Raglan Beach when he was 12 years old, and soon came up to speed. Today, he sports a ‘twin tip’ — a board that allows him to ride back­wards and for­wards on the waves.

The idea is that the win­di­er the con­di­tions, the smal­ler the kite you use, mak­ing Aiken’s 6m kite ideal for the 35-knot winds that rattle through Lyall Bay. Stormy weath­er doesn’t often deter kite­sur­fer Jam­ie Mac­Don­ald, although if it is over 50 knots, he says he won’t go out. “The trick to hand­ling the wind is to keep the kite low when you are head­ing out. If you come into danger, you can pull the safety release that is clipped onto your waist, link­ing up to the kite, which will turn into a flag when the release is pulled.”

Learners should not, how­ever, throw cau­tion to the wind. A sign on the beach­front states: “Lyall Bay is not for begin­ners, and is not appro­pri­ate for teach­ing.” For new­bies, the best places to go include Fox­ton Beach and the Kapiti Coast, as city beaches are gen­er­ally gustier.

In terms of future devel­op­ment, riders are hop­ing that the wake park pro­posed for Aotea Lagoon in Pori­rua will go ahead, allow­ing them to fre­quent the area in the sum­mer­time. But first, it has to get through a con­sent pro­cess with Pori­rua City Coun­cil and the region­al coun­cil. Here’s hoping!

Jamie Macdonald kite surfing dying the big southerly storm early March 2014. Wellington Airport can be seen in the background.


Downhill mountain biking

Ash Burgess - blue helmet, Rosara Joseph (white helmet), Jack Whattam (orange helmet), Steven Peters (green helmet). Photo Shoot on Mt Victoria. 6 March 2014. On a swel­ter­ing day on Mt Vic­tor­ia, Fish­Head was guided around jumps dot­ted along the hill­side, and shown how not to break a leg as you hurtle down a mountain.
Moun­tain bik­ing is a pop­u­lar pas­time for many Wel­ling­to­ni­ans, but you may not be aware of some options, includ­ing Bike Wellington’s skills courses and tours around the hills of the city, with qual­i­fied guides.

MAX PICKERING Lower Hutt Karapoti Classic Mountain Bike Race. 1 March 2014.Bike Wellington’s latest offer­ing take things a step fur­ther: Wel­ling­ton Off-Road Rid­ing Depart­ment (WORD). Foun­ded in 2013, it encour­ages sev­en- to 17-year-olds to get among the dirt. Ash­ley Bur­gess of Bike Wel­ling­ton is one of the people mak­ing it all hap­pen, and says one of the suc­cesses of the club is see­ing “kids who were strug­gling in school regain­ing their con­fid­ence through biking”.

Ash­ley is also the co-founder of Revolve Cyc­ling Club — a woman-only club that was estab­lished five years ago. The ladies have their own Super V race day at Pol­hill Reserve in Aro Val­ley. This is the women’s ver­sion of the Super D format, a down­hill cross-coun­try race.

The Wel­ling­ton Moun­tain Bike Club, a non-profit organ­isa­tion run by volun­teers, holds events year-round round, includ­ing the cSixx Mt Vic Super D earli­er this year.

Anoth­er pop­u­lar area for bik­ing is Rata Ridge in Wainu­io­mata. Rider Jack What­tam says “the track is far less groomed than most, which makes for fun rid­ing. The area would be a Grade 4, which involves quite a tech­nic­al ride.” If you are look­ing for a less tech­nic­al — and more child-friendly — track, try the South Coast Kids Track in Island Bay. This track is not steep and is wider than most, mak­ing it ideal for learners. What­tam is involved in trail-build­ing at Makara Peak and in the past has been involved with trail-build­ing in Chile through New Zea­l­and Trail Solutions.

Volun­teer-led trail pro­jects can apply to Trail Fund NZ for grants to help build new trails or work on exist­ing trails. A tonne of oppor­tun­it­ies are on offer, and if you can nav­ig­ate a bike with dual sus­pen­sion down a hill, then you are halfway there!

Ash Burgess - blue helmet, Rosara Joseph (white helmet), Jack Whattam (orange helmet), Steven Peters (green helmet). Photo Shoot on Mt Victoria. 6 March 2014.


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