Jaden Leeming says an excited crowd spurred him on to bigger and better tricks off the wharf. Photo, Jean Pierre Guillotin. Lulu Bejot shows how it’s done. Photo, Neil Davies
The Estuary River Jump event took a giant leap forward recently, when the number of participants increased ten-fold.
Ōrewa BMX riders Scott Baulcomb and Glenn Southern started the event three years ago with the idea of “having fun and taking a risk”. Participants ride BMXs off a ramp at the end of the wharf at Amorino Reserve in Red Beach, perform a trick and land in Ōrewa Estuary.
Scott says until now it has been low-key – more or less just them and their mates, with about 10 riders.
They were blown away by the 2021 version, held on Auckland Anniversary weekend (February 1), which saw 100 riders, aged from six to 60 years old, take part. A large crowd cheered them on.
Scott says offering free Burger Fuel and amazing weather on a holiday weekend made the difference.
Among the riders were three professional athletes, including Lulu Bejot and Jaden Leeming, originally from Red Beach.
Two female riders took part – Coasties Nic Leslie and Jade Clifton. The pair also volunteered to help organise the event.
Scott says there were plenty of impressive thrills and spills and a highlight was when Jaden did a double back flip.
It was Jaden’s first Estuary jump.
“I’m all about Wheels and Wellbeing and this is a great event to involve and activate the community, have some fun and inspire the next generation of freestylers,” he says. “When the crowd’s amping you up it’s hard not to put on a show, and all the other riders were absolutely sending it.”
The course heads down a steep grassy slope, onto the wharf, up a ramp and off the end, where riders attempt tricks before hitting the water.
Two BMX bikes, which Scott says are “custom built of aluminium for salt water” are provided, as well as a scooter called Rodney.
Everyone takes part at their own risk, and rides to their ability, but Scott says they are extremely grateful to Ōrewa Surf Lifesaving volunteers (especially Stu Hanford) for taking care of safety – swimming back to shore with a bike can be a challenge, particularly for younger riders. There is also a health professional on site.
After almost two hours, and 100 jumps, the surf club called a halt to the event when the rip got too strong.
Interest seems to be so high now that the jump is expected to attract even more riders in future.