Trenchtown Wake Park
Trenchtown Wake Park Owners Riding the Crest to Success
The Bay of Quinte Region and the City of Quinte West is home to one of the most exciting, innovative and cool waterborne activities you could think of.
The Trenchtown Wake Park started in the late spring of 2016 and is entering its third season of presenting its unique brand of wakeboarding – one where folks are pulled along by a cable. Owned and operated by lifetime residents of the area, Niko Horning and Will McLaird, Trenchtown is located at the new Marina in Trenton along the shoreline, near the entrance to the world-renown Trent-Severn Waterway.
It is the classic case of two young entrepreneurs, with a passion for board sports, looking to open their own business an imparting their love for this fun, active water sport with others. It has become a destination tourist attraction for the community and for the entire region, proving that a good idea, a smart business plan, lots of hard work and cultivating an excellent word-of-mouth reputation can make dreams come true.
Wake The Line
Horning gives his pal and partner McLaird much of the credit for coming up with the vision for what would become the Trenchtown Wake Park.
“We were hanging out with some friends just watching some YouTube videos and we saw something about a wakeboard contest going on in Germany called Wake the Line and it takes place between three Olympic swimming pools with gaps in between and they used a cable system, which was still pretty new at the time. I had never seen anything like it and Will said, ‘this is my dream. I want to open a wake park at some point.’ And me being a long boarder and snowboarder, I was totally into it. I loved the idea and thought it would be great where we lived. It would be a great way to expose people to the sport of wakeboarding,” he said.
“It took us about six years of searching for a property all over North America, and then right here at home in Trenton they decided they were going to build a new marina. So we sat down with the mayor at the time and asked if the thought it was a good idea. He thought it was a perfect thing because the city was trying to build up the waterfront. It’s something we would have that nobody else would have.”
Dock The Boat
Wakeboarding is a very popular sport, both for recreational participants and also for those may have a more competitive inclination. It essentially sees an individual pulled along behind a boat, performing tricks in the ‘wake’ of the boat, including going over jumps and other obstacles. It’s sort of like snowboarding or skateboarding, but on water. The cabled version of the sport, which is starting to gain even more popularity, especially as a gateway into the sport, sees participants pulled along by a sophisticated pulley system.
The process is very safe, and all the instructors at Trenchtown Wake Park have all the necessary certifications and lots of training. Cable wake boarding, Horning asserts, is actually safer and easier that being pulled behind a boat.
“The feeling once you’re on the board is very similar. The main difference is with the cable system, we’re pulling you upwards as we’re pulling you forwards, so it’s a lot easier learning curve. That’s why we’re able to get so many more people interested in the sport. And, honestly once you have learned on the cable, you can change over to the boat: there’s no difference except that it’s easier to get up and stay up with the cable,” he said, adding that it is also a much less expensive and more environmentally friendly form of wakeboarding.
“It keeps the cost down for everybody because you’re not paying for gas and maintenance and having a driver and needing a place to dock the boats. A wakeboarding boat pushes 3,000 pounds of ballast just to make those big waves, so as an owner you’re going through $500 or more worth of gas per boat each day.”
Making Waves Around The World
Heading into their third season, Trenchtown Wake Park has brought in thousands of visitors from throughout the region, but also much, much farther afield.
“We’re on a few wakeboarding websites that have a global reach, so we have had people show up from Florida who are doing wakeboarding tours across North America. We even had some come from Germany who were doing wakeboarding tours, as well as people from Australia and Thailand. It’s a global sport, and Ontario is actually second only to Florida as the best wakeboarding place in North America. Some of the top athletes in the world come from here.”
As well, Horning said they have taught kids as young as eight (they won’t go any younger, as the hips and muscles aren’t developed enough on younger children) and folks in their late 60s.
“When I was first learning to wakeboard, I wasn’t as good at wakeboarding behind a boat as I was on the cable. And you don’t need to have experience being on a snowboard or skateboard or anything like that. The cable makes it easier – getting yourself up on the board is easier than you think, and it really gives people confidence.”
A Little Help Along The Wave
While the course that participants follow on the water has some ups and downs thanks to some fabricated obstacles and also the unpredictability of the waves on the Bay of Quinte, getting the park constructed, even with the blessing of municipal officials, was also not always smooth. But Horning and McLaird persevered.
“We did know a little about business ahead of time, but actually starting from scratch and putting it all down on paper to create a wake park is something totally different from anything we had done before. It did go pretty well for the first little bit, but then there were a lot of permits and other paperwork that kind of got us bogged down at the time. One of the biggest things too is communicating to people that we don’t try to cut the weeds along the shoreline. Well we can’t because of regulations, but that’s a good thing because it’s an important ecosystem, especially for spawning fish. We knew there would be all sorts of challenges and understood that it would be a learning experience,” Horning said, adding that the pair received a lot of help from Trenval in streamlining their business plan, as well as from other local businesses, especially when it came to excavating and construction work on the site.
“We have had a lot of help from the community, from the City of Quinte West and also other small companies. A couple of local excavating companies really helped us out and Home Hardware gave us contractor rates knowing we’re young and going to be buying a lot of wood. We really appreciate all the support we’ve had,” Horning said.
For more information on Trenchtown Wake Park, visit www.trenchtown.ca.