Association progressing in leaps and sproings
It is the most intriguing yet underrated sport in the country, with a stronghold in Christchurch – wharf jumping.
The New Zealand Wharf Jumping Association (NZWJA) formed in 2007 because "wharf jumpers around the country needed a unified voice", said president Richard Sewell.
The association's website defines wharf jumping as "an art/sport/activity involving the performance of physical manoeuvres from a platform, most commonly, but not necessary limited to, a wharf, into a body of water".
Sewell said association membership was "a bit loose", but there were wharf jumpers all over the country. The association's reach extends to Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Dubai, Australia, Peru, the United States, and Europe.
It was an "inclusive" club, and "about having the right attitude", said NZWJA "locations manager" Reuben Williams.
"If you do not want to get into the water, that is fine. You just have to enjoy watching," he said.
Williams' dog Toby is a long-standing "patched member". He was "a bit tentative from heights", but "really gets lost in the moment".
"Generally it is just the run and jump. He probably has the best endurance out of all of us."
More extreme tricks done by members included "the gainer", which is "when you do a back-flip but from a forward-facing position".
Another trick, revered among members, was a simple dive with a twist. "You bend your knees, grab your ankles, and tweak your whole body.
"The hardest bit is allowing yourself to enter the water face first. It is conceptually very simple, but it hurts a little bit if you do it wrong."
The association publishes a magazine - Wharf Jumper - complete with opinion pieces and location reviews. It also holds an annual event called the NZWJA Soak and Sproing.
"That generally involves our hot tub, diving boards and boom box," said Williams.
The diving boards were salvaged from community swimming pools after the Canterbury earthquakes. Other club assets included a typewriter, used at the association's AGM.
The NZWJA released a 40-minute film on wharf jumping in New Zealand at the end of last year. Wharf Rats premiered at Dog Park in Wilsons Rd.
"People love jumping off stuff into water," said Sewell.
But the NZWJA was committed to safety.
"Always check the depth before jumping, learn how to swim and wear sunscreen. Togs are optional."
- © Fairfax NZ News