READY: Tyrone Watkinson is keen to see Wakeboard Queensland and Wakeboard Australia return to Grafton.
READY: Tyrone Watkinson is keen to see Wakeboard Queensland and Wakeboard Australia return to Grafton. Contributed

Wakeboarders get local backing

WAKEBOARDING: With debate continuing over the future of wakeboarding events in the Clarence Valley, one business owner has come forward to throw his support behind the sport and push to see the competition return to Grafton.

Controversy surrounded the sport late last month when residents disrupted a Wakeboard Queensland and Wakeboard Australia event on the Clarence River, despite the event receiving permission from Roads and Maritime Services.

Now with doubt raised over the future of Wakeboard Australia returning to Grafton, Rede Electrical owner Tyrone Watkinson said he was prepared to put his money where his mouth is to help sponsor the event to see it return to Grafton.

Watkinson said he hoped to test the waters with the popularity of the event to see how much support it had in Grafton.

"I want to start a poll and a petition and get as many people's opinions as possible to gauge the support the event has in the community," he said.

"If people say they want this event back in town, then we should do what we can to make sure that happens. I don't want it to be one-sided, I want to address people's concerns. I think both sides have got to have their say and see if we can find a compromise."

A wakeboarder and kite surfer himself, Watkinson said competitions like the Wakeboard Queensland and Wakeboard Australia titles were important for the local economy.

"The sport brings competitors and spectators not just from the area and interstate but internationally as well," he said.

"I want to see Grafton grow and at the moment things are booming with all the construction projects but once the big contracts finish and the money and extra people up and go to the next project Grafton will need something to bring people into the town.

"When they're saying they're bringing in $50,000 into the town for a weekend, that's something that can't be ignored and if there's more done to support them, like having markets or food trucks, that figure could be even higher."

Watkinson said the Clarence River was an underutilised asset.

"Wakeboarders are all for maintaining and looking after the river, because it hurts us if we cause any damage and at the end of the day there's no point having an asset like the river there and not being used to bring in money or people," he said.

To share your thoughts on the wakeboarding debate, Watkinson has established a Wake and Kite Clarence Valley Facebook page.