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Hundreds expected for 2007 Tairua Pipemasters
By Alison Smith

Hundreds of people are expected to again gather on the shores of the Pepe inlet for the Tairua Pipemasters national wakeboarding contest on February 17.

The Tairua Pipemasters has become the favourite event of the year for New Zealand’s top wakeboarders including former world champions Andrea Fountain and Jeff Weatherall.

It will be free for all spectators and takes place at the harbour inlet beside the Pepe playground on Tairua’s main street. Riders will practice on Thursday February 15 before qualifying rounds the following day and finals starting 5.30pm on Saturday February 17. An afterparty and prizegiving will be held at Shells Bar and Restaurant.

Now in its fourth year, the event maintains its casual feel for competitors but provides impressive action for spectators who get close-up views of wakeboarders sliding over purpose built obstacles similar to snowboarding rails.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s pipemasters because the standard of riding will have stepped up a level for sure,” says event founder Devan Rowe. “New Zealand’s top wakeboarders have been riding rails overseas all year and it’s an aspect of the sport that’s really growing.”

Rowe says a new development in the sport has been the invention of a portable winch system that can be set up just about anywhere and tows riders without the use of a boat or jetski. There will be a demonstration using winches on finals day.

“We’ll be building some temporary pools using hay bales and riders will wakeboard and wakeskate in these. It’s definitely crazy and hard to imagine but you’ve just got to come and check it out.”

The name Tairua Pipemasters is a play on the legendary Hawaiian surf contest but relates to the use of PVC piping used in the rails and other obstacles built specifically for the event.

Building supplier Carters give materials and in previous years have sent celebrity builder John “Cocksy” Cocks – himself a keen wakeboarder – to help with construction of the rails.

Tairua Pipemasters has grown to be the most popular event for New Zealand’s top wakeboarders and it is still only possible thanks to the volunteer time and skill of local board riders.

“I’ve done this in the past with myself, [builders] Matt Land, Cocksy and Simon Smith just because it’s a great day out in Tairua and it gives us a chance to get all the country’s best wakeboarders together and see what they’re capable of.”