Riding Townsville’s wave of water sports
It was Townsville’s weather and water activities that originally lured German-born Marvin Baumeister to the city. Using our natural attractions to become one of the world’s leading kiteboarders, he’s now getting others hooked on everything aquatic, including the booming trend of SUP.
“I think we’ll start seeing some really good [water-based] athletes coming out of Townsville, like Coral Darbishire [outrigger OC1 world champion] and Andy Yates [2010 kiteboarding world champion] because the conditions are perfect,” Marvin says. “It’s no doubt why I’ve become one of the best kite racers in the world — Townsville is the ideal training ground.”
Arriving at Bondi Beach from Hannover in 2005 where he played team sports and raced motorcycles, Marvin googled ‘sunniest place in Australia’ and got Townsville as his answer. Moving here soon after to study at James Cook University (JCU), Marvin got involved with In The Loop Kiteboarding later that year, becoming an instructor and eventually buying the business in 2009. He has since gone on to compete in events all over the globe. Next on the cards is the Kiteboarding World Championships in Turkey in early August; followed by the international KiteFoil GoldCup Australia 2014, which is actually being held in Townsville in late September.
His other passion is Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) — an activity he says is the fastest growing sport in the world and is ballooning in popularity all over Australia, particularly in Townsville.
“We have been offering SUP hire since 2011, but we’ve really seen it take off in the past year,” says Marvin. “The Townsville SUP Club formed in June to create an organised and social platform for the sport and also bring racing to Townsville — in places like Sydney where it’s more established, we are seeing 250+ people competing at a time.”
Marvin says SUP is the perfect activity for Townsville because of our weather, but also for people who want to be near the water, but not necessarily in it (for example, during stinger season). “We are getting everyone trying SUP from little kids to 70-year-olds and it’s really popular with women aged 20-35 as it particularly focuses on the core muscles — you are constantly flexing to remain balanced on the board and you don’t even realise.”
In the Loop has also recently become accredited with Surfing Queensland and, before you say, “but Townsville has no surf,” Marvin and his partner in wave-riding, Rachel Baumeister, beg to differ. “There are waves at Saunders Beach [27km north of Townsville] and Alva Beach [16km east of Ayr], but you just have to time it right with the winds and the tides. We ride 2ft-4ft waves on the SUP boards all the time, and it’s a lot of fun with the sandbanks.”
It’s Marvin’s vision to keep building Townsville’s beach culture; something that we are well-positioned to embrace, and that he had very little opportunity to do in Germany. “Our lifestyle in Australia is based around the water and Townsville has the best climate for it,” says Marvin. “We need more water sports to get people on The Strand, and to Pallarenda and the beaches north and south. We already have one of the best active communities in Australia and I would love to see that continue to grow.”
You can catch Marvin and kite racers from all over the world competing right here in Sail Townsville on August 28 to September 2 and during the international KiteFoil GoldCup 2014 on September 25 to October 2; both hosted at the Townsville Sailing Club.
Want to get into SUP? Visit In the Loop on Gregory Street.