Tūrangi couple Blair and Chelsie Robertson are competing at one of the most iconic and progressive wake parks in the world next month.
The wakeboarders are heading to London for the 2022 WWA Wake Park World Championships at Liquid Leisure Windsor, a plastic playground widely respected by the sport's elite athletes, from July 14 to 17.
Blair says the trip has been a long time coming.
"There are two governing bodies that do a wakeboard world champs and we qualified for the other one for the last two years in a row by winning nationals. They were both cancelled because of Covid."
Chelsie says the prospect of competing against the best in the world is even more exciting after missing out twice.
"The Liquid Leisure complex is a cable park which runs on electricity. You have a cable over your head that pulls you around a big man-made lake filled with obstacles and ramps.
"The closest cable park for us is on the Gold Coast, so we've used one before but not for a few years. We just get out on the lake to practise as much as possible. At a cable park it's more about the kickers and the rails and the sliders.
"There are three judges and they all judge you and give you a score for each run, which then determines your placing."
Chelsie is competing in the open women's wake skate and wake surf and Blair in the open men's wake skate and wake board.
Blair says using a cable is quite different to being towed behind a boat.
"The cable pulls you from quite high in a circle round the lake. The pull is quite different and you don't really get a chance to hit any obstacles on the lake, whereas that is all you really do on the cable."
The pair are looking forward to competing against the best riders from all over the world. They have both set the goal of standing on the podium.
"We've never competed internationally before so it will be interesting to see where we stand," Blair says.
"At the moment we're just trying to keep our ride skills up until we head over. We're confident that we can podium, but it will be a great experience either way.
"I've been doing this since I was about 14 and we both learned how to coach in Florida. Now, we coach locally with things like school groups, and Chelsie runs a women's group where a few times a year we'll get a bunch of women who have never done it before and teach them to ride."
Chelsie says having a women-only group helps make the introduction to the sport less intimidating.
"More and more women want to learn how to wakeboard in an environment where they have a female coach and maybe not a boat full of guys who can all wakeboard quite well.
"It is something where, especially behind the boat, all eyes are on you. There's nothing else to watch but the person wakeboarding. For a lot of women it is something they just do with a partner or brother, but to go with a group of women and be taught by women takes away a lot of fear."
Blair says wakeboarding is a "really social" sport.
"It doesn't matter if you're behind a boat or at a wakeboard park, there are always people around. The competition scene is really friendly, it's not very big so it's always the same people you get to hang out with.
"Overall, when you're out on the boat on a beautiful day, there's not much not to like."
The pair are also nurturing the next generation of wakeboarding talent.
"We've got three kids who all wakeboard, 13, 11, and 9-year-old boys. We watch them and they ride and that's a whole other side of it for us," Chelsie says.
Blair says it's great watching the boys compete and push one another.
"The youngest is actually the best, he hits the biggest jumps and most difficult rails so it pushes the others to try to keep up."
Blair and Chelsie say they would not be able to head overseas and compete without the support of local business sponsors Ingham Taupō and Tūrangi Marine.
Anyone interested in wakeboarding can contact the Robertsons through Blair's Instagram account: @blair.robertson.nz