James Minchin has shared a portion of the Danny Cropper story that he ran in this year’s superb edition of Ski Race Review.
Danny Cropper has achieved more in ski racing than most will ever dream of – but it seems no matter how much you achieve, there’s always more to be done.
Having lived on the Hawkesbury River for nearly all his life, Cropper’s dream was – and still is – to be the King of the River, a title bestowed upon seven-time Sydney Bridge to Bridge winner Geoff Hardaker.
After achieving an unprecedented four Bridge to Bridge wins in succession between 1989-91, it seemed like Cropper was destined to at least match Hardaker’s record – but now it seems the dream will go unfulfilled. Although that burning ambition lives on, the amiable Cropper certainly doesn’t let it eat away at him – and when you consider his achievements in the sport, it’s easy to understand why he can be more than happy with his lot.
After all, five Sydney Bridge to Bridge wins, two Southern 80 victories and a host of other outright wins in all the river classics is more than even the most ardent young ski racer could dream of. And to top it all off, the icing on the cake is that Cropper earns a living doing what he loves best, as the maker of DC waterskis, the rails preferred by a long list of world champions.
When asked how he first got involved in ski racing, Cropper has a fairly stock-standard answer – “it was a natural progression”. Having first started skiing when he was five behind his parent’s fishing boat on Sydney Harbour, Cropper’s involvement in the sport was inevitable as soon as his parents bought Ko-veda Caravan Park in 1972, when Cropper was six.
“Our upbringing was pretty awesome – we used to jump in our tinnie and either ski to school or ride bikes,” Cropper said. He competed in – and completed – his first Sydney Bridge to Bridge when he was eight and from then on he raced through the junior ranks, not only in ski racing, but also setting speed records.
“My parents, they restricted us a lot, as they didn’t want us skiing behind nutbags and hurting ourselves,” Cropper said. “The guys we used to ski behind were on the (caravan) park, 90 per cent of the time.”
Although Cropper’s parents were wary of him being injured, setting speed records back in the 1970s – when Grant Torrens was clocking jaw-dropping speeds – was a dangerous business. Skiing behind Comanche, Cropper set an Under 13 Boys speed record of 86mph as a 12-year-old, but when he was 15 he got a true taste of how dangerous the sport can be.
“I got pulled on my head and woke up with a broken neck in hospital,” Cropper said. “I was skiing behind Torrens Title, with Wayne Jones driving the boat, and I basically got pulled out of my ski at 115 mile an hour.”
Cropper said the night before, Torrens – who still holds the world water ski speed record of 156mph – also suffered a nasty fall. “Grant Torrens went through the lights and the lights snapped, or malfunctioned, at the end of it. He went through at 145 or 148 mile an hour easily and the boat backed off and he fell on his bum and slid for probably 500m,” Cropper said.
“He came back and, honest to God, his whole body, from the neck to his ankles on his back where he slid, was black from bruising.”
Want to hear more about Danny’s amazing efforts? – including the world’s longest ocean skiing marathon; his progression through the junior ski racing ranks to eventually enter – and dominate – Unlimited behind Supafortress; his outright river race successes with Top Gun, Mirage, Rolco and Argo; and his experiences building DC Waterskis, preferred by champions the world over?
Then head to www.skiracereview.com and purchase a copy of Ski Race Review 2011-12. The 72-page magazine covers all the major events on the Australian calendar, including the Sydney Bridge to Bridge, Southern 80, Grafton Bridge to Bridge, Mildura 100, Robinvale 80, Hawkesbury 120, Barrie Beehag, Berri 90 and the Australian Titles. And apart from the feature story on Danny Cropper, there are also feature stories on Stephen Robertson and Ian Tricker!
Get your DC gear at www.dcwaterskis.com.au