Work to start on Swansea wakeboarding centre

Image caption,
The centre will open in the Prince of Wales Dock in SA1, Swansea

A wakeboarding park is aiming to attract water sports enthusiasts to Swansea's SA1 marine development.

Work starts this week on the permanent cable-powered system which will open in time for the summer holidays.

Described as a combination of waterskiing, snowboarding and surfing, wakeboard riders are traditionally towed behind motorboats.

The businessmen behind the venture say it will be "a key new attraction" bringing more tourists to the city.

Called GoWake, the new park will operate from the 28-acre (11.3 hectare) Prince of Wales Dock.

It has been supported by the Welsh Assembly Government and by Associated British Ports.

It will be run by two established water sports operators - Gower Kiteriders, run by Matt Barker-Smith in Swansea Bay, and Big Blue Experience, based in Pembrokeshire.

Mr Barker-Smith said wakeboarding was one of the fastest growing extreme water sports.

He said Swansea was an ideal location as there was a wide range of water sports already available including kayaking, surfing, kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, yachting and jet skiing.

"Wakeboarding is a hugely popular sport - it's still relatively new but interest is growing at a phenomenal rate and we are confident the Swansea facility will attract enthusiasts from far and wide," he added.

"Wales is a superb venue for water sports with Swansea and Gower established centres for sailors and surfers and GoWake will hopefully become another important attraction."

He said the cable-powered systems were ideally suited for enclosed water.

They are not weather-dependent, can be operated all year round and are suitable for everyone from beginners to advanced wake boarders.

Economy and Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "The fact the activity will be based in the Prince of Wales Dock, which is just a short walk from the city centre, supports our vision to develop SA1 into a thriving extension of the centre offering new social, leisure and business opportunities.

"There cannot be many places in the UK where an activity like this is on offer within a stone's throw of a city centre - it makes it accessible to all and will, I am sure, also prove to be a popular spectator sport attracting visitors and residents into SA1."

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