The economics of wakeboarding in New Zealand are such that Tauranga athlete Darren Bishop has spent the past few winters in sunny Florida in an attempt to keep up with the world's best.

"This is my fifth summer in a row, so it's been a few years," Bishop said.

"It's good, but bad for the nose. It's burnt continuously."

His most recent trip in preparation for the world championships was spent at Texas cable parks before heading to the US's wakeboarding mecca.


"Over there, you just walk out the door to the lake and the boat is ready to go - you don't have to tow it an hour away.

"Plus, over there the gas is literally half the price. There's pros everywhere and easy access to coaching - you can only get good coaches here at a certain time of year because they only come back for the peak of summer. It's expensive too - you're looking at $100 for half an hour.

"Going out with friends helps but it's different than going out with a coach that's willing to help you.

"If you have someone there who knows what they are talking about you can advance so fast and when you're riding with guys who are doing stuff twice as well as you, you think you can do that too."

Thus, twice weekly 20 minute tramp sessions are useful in augmenting the three or four trips undertaken to Lake Karapiro each week, even though landing with your feet on a tramp is far removed from taking off from the water on a board.

"That's the sort of thing you can't mimic on the tramp.

"The other thing is the pull of the rope. You try to mimic it by jumping backwards so the rope has tension, but it's still not the same.

"And the fact that on a trampoline you've got to go straight up and down instead of across - if you tried to do that you'd end up on the ground.

"But it's as close as you can get without getting behind a boat."

He won the Auckland Open two weeks ago and will have a busy few months here before heading back to the States in May.

A cable versus wake competition at Waipukurau and the North Island and national champs are on the schedule for the 25-year-old who is supported by O'Brien, Page Earthworks and Bishop Building.