Ever accidentally found yourself wakeboarding next to an alligator? No, can’t say I have (or ever want to), but Chelsie has, and what a story it is!
Meet our beautiful Salt Sister Chelsie! When customers become friends, it truly is something special! Recently we headed up to Taupo to spend some time on the lake with Chelsie, and her story is one of so much inspiration we had to share it with you all! And a huge congratulations on her recent achievements at the World Wake Park Champs in London!
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I live in the beautiful central north island town of Turangi on the shores of Lake Taupo and live here with my husband Blair and our three sons. When I’m not on the water wake skating or wake surfing, I’m spending time with my friends and family or working as a midwife. I love being on any board on the water; surfing, wakeboarding, wake skating or SUP all are my happy place.
I first learnt to wakeboard when I was 17 on Lake Tarawera in Rotorua. It took me all day of face plants and being dragged through the water, but when I finally stood up I thought this is amazing why have I not been doing this my whole life?! I had never enjoyed something so much. I was lucky enough to live and work at a wakeboarding camp with back to back summers in NZ and USA for two years in my early 20’s where I picked up a wake skate and basically have never put it down since.
Wakeskating is like skateboarding on the water, with a board that is shorter than a wakeboard and you wear shoes and stand on it and do skateboarding tricks as well as some wakeboarding style tricks. I started out riding behind anything that could tow me - boats, jet skis, winches, cars and motorbikes (I haven’t tried horses yet haha) and have met awesome lifelong friends through wakeboarding. I have been competing in wakeboarding and wake skating competitions for over 10 years and I enjoy the competitive side as well as the people I meet and places I get to go. Over the last 9 years I have been cable park riding more and more which is hitting rails and kickers (plastic obstacles) and this is super fun and challenging. Pre covid I would get away to Australia each winter and ride over there to get big cable park riding time in with my family too.
For me, its the feeling of freedom and balance that I love most. When I’m out on the water, nothing else matters and its a very grounding experience that I love.
What has been the biggest challenge in your wakeboarding career?
Injuries for sure are challenging. I have ruptured my ACL/MCL knee ligaments during a cable park competition and had surgery to repair these, which has meant time off the water and lots of extra care for my knees since then - plus lots of strapping tape!
Tell us a funny moment in your wakeboarding career...
When wakeboarding in Florida at a lake in Orlando, I rode past an alligator that popped its head out of the water as I went past. The water there was very red stained from the trees that hung in the water, so it made it hard to see anything swimming around. Everyone in the boat was pointing and calling out to me to not fall off. I was gripping the handle pretty tightly after that!
Tell us about World Champs & your recent trip! What was your training schedule like in preparation for it?
In July 2022 I went to the WWA Wake Park World Champs with my husband and two other kiwi riders. It was epic! It was in London during a massive heatwave, so we had 40 degree weather. There were about 350 riders over the full week of the comp from all over the world. It was pretty intense with the huge crowds and calibre of riding but so much fun. I was stoked to come away with 4th in the Open Women Wake Surf and 4th in Open Women Wake Skate. I trained through the freezing Turangi winter to try and keep some ride fitness, including a stint at the Whangerei Wake Park up north to dial some kicker tricks. I tried to get out and ride behind the boat 2-3 times a week when Lake Taupo was calm and flat which was usually when it was like 2 degrees, so my Gemma Lee 4mm wetsuit was a lifesaver on those cold mornings!