Staying on and landing your tricks is pretty important.Darren BishopHe's not into sending bad vibes, but Tauranga wakeboarder Darren Bishop wouldn't be too gutted if rogue wash or a mis-timed trick disrupted the plans of his two biggest rivals at the wakeboarding nationals which start today on Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge.
Bishop heads west chasing his first open men's podium finish but concedes unless the unexpected happens gold or silver could be slightly out of reach, with Auckland's Nick Gibson and Brad Smeele hot favourites to soar highest with their gravity-defying tricks.
The 24-year-old builder, a former New Zealand junior champion, said the rest of the open men's competitors, which could number 20 depending on how many South Islandersarrive, were relying on the vagaries the high octane sport occasionally threw up to have a sniff.
"I'm hopeful of fourth or maybe third but wakeboarding's a funny sport and it's all down to how you go on the day," Bishop said. "One bail on the day is all it takes, but the reality is Brad and Nick are always right up there at the top and are both performing at a bit higher level than the rest of us."
Bishop has been clocking up the kilometres all summer, training on Karapiro several times a week, and plans to stuff as much trickery as he can into his two 500m passes in front of the judges in a bid to move on to tomorrow's final.
But it's not all about quantity, with technique and style needed to catch the judges' eye too. And staying on.
"If you fall off once the boat will come back and pick you up, but fall off again in either pass and that's pretty much it," Bishop said. "So staying on and landing your tricks is pretty important."
Schooled at Otumoetai College, Bishop, who is backed by O'Brien Watersports, Steve's Marine Supplies and Bishop Building, started wakeboarding as a nine-year-old behind his parents' boat at Lake Ohakuri, getting competitive in his mid-teens.
He's finished first, second and third as a junior at nationals, as well as competing in the US and representing New Zealand at the world champs in Moscow.
He'll head state-side again next month, basing himself in Orlando, Florida, coaching at a wakeboarding camp. He's done two summers in the US and says he's probably learned more than the hotshot teens he tutors.
"You get to ride as much as you can during your time off, and unlike New Zealand where my wakeboarding is with friends, if the other coaches in the US see you doing something wrong they're not backward in pointing it out.
"The weather [in Florida] is perfect, the boats are good and there's a couple of cable parks in the area where you can go and wakeboard for $20 for three hours, way cheaper than having to pay for gas for a boat."