Vroom with a view

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Getting paid to teach watersports to hardy punters on freezing Lake Wakatipu is a dream scenario for three young mates new to Queenstown. 

Entrepreneur Richard Milsom, 22, along with Geordie Wilson, 23, and Ben Osbourne, 22, this week launched Wake Tours – offering wakeboarding, waterskiing and inflatable rides. 

The lads have been coaching on the side since setting up a wakeboarding club at university four years ago – now they’re eager to share their skills with paying customers. 

Their ‘office’ is a 2006 Malibu Wakesetter VLX jetboat operating from a berth on O’Regan’s Wharf. 

They also have sponsored wakeboarder Luke Thomas, 21, who’s been involved with coaching international wake­­­boarding teams, on board as a part-time instructor. 

The new company is vying for clients with long-established local business Queenstown Paraflights – run by Carrick McLellan, Chris Bradley and Ben Kent – who started Queenstown Watersports in mid-December. 

Queenstown Watersports also offer wakeboarding, water skiing and Big Ride Out – New Zealand’s largest inflatable tube ride – behind their RipCurl-sponsored Nautique 220 Super Air boat. 

Kent says Queenstown Water­sports saw a gap in the market that needed filling. 

“We thought as we’re down here at least five days a week anyway, it might as well be us that gives it a go,” he says. 

Kent anticipates the activities will prove popular year-round, with plucky Aussies wakeboarding on Lake Wakatipu mid-winter to earn “bragging rights” about being on the snow and in the water on the same day. 

Thanks to 4mm dry suits that clients wear, they haven’t had “a single complaint about the cold yet”, Kent adds. 

Despite the competition, Canterbury University student Milsom predicts there’ll be enough customers to keep both businesses busy, and claims more players in the sector is good for the industry. 

Milsom: “People come to Queenstown and Wanaka to go skiing or to go snowboarding and that’s sort of the same thing we want to do here. The more people that get involved, the better it is for us.”liz.proctor@scene.co.nz