Written in 1997
On the list of entrants at the 1996 Diamond Race in Belgium was a new name – W.Mawer – Aus. That day at Viersel, he obliterated the whole field and gave the on-looking thousands, one of the gutsiest displays of ski racing I’ve ever seen.
Just 18 months later, Wayne Randal Mawer out of Cairns, Australia won the recognition of being the finest Water Ski Racer on Earth. He is the World Water Ski Racing Champion.
This likeable lad from Queensland began his road to success by setting foot on a pair of skis at the tender age of two. By six he was racing and soon winning races. “My father Roy taught me at Lake Tinuburra”, said Wayne. “He’s won four Australian Titles in different divisions, he still skis every day and he has the best rough water style I’ve seen”, he added. It was Roy, along with Paul and Jan O’Loughlin who have shown Wayne all aspects of the sport, and since the age of six, Mawer has listened and learned and put in the effort.
In recent years, the carpenter’s road to success on the world stage has been marked with a number of achievements along the way. At Catalina USA he finished 14th in 1991. In 1994 he took 7th and 1st in 1997. A great example of a true champion’s progression to the top.
But in ski racing a lot depends on a good team and a good race boat too. In 1995, Wayne teamed up with Lui Garozzo, Darren Catelin, Gavin McKay and Ross Wilson. Lui told me, “The Cyclone Team that emerged for the Australian campaign was one born from necessity. As a team, we needed each other more than anyone will ever know”. He added, “without Wayne’s commitment there was no drive. Without Ross Wilson from Cyclone Boats we had no edge over our competition. Without Gavin driving we couldn’t use the boat to its maximum. Without Darren observing, Wayne would not ski to his optimum”.
In 1995 The Cyclone Team decided they would begin their quest to win the 10th World Titles. But it was Wayne’s sensational success at the 1996 Diamond Race which marked the beginning of his journey and he told me, “I had my moment then”. And when I asked him if he was optimistic about his success at the Worlds he replied, “90% of the time, we all knew as a team – which is one step further than believing”.
He knows that when he commits himself 100%, he can achieve great things and on his part, his success on the world stage is a result of his total commitment and unprecedented effort. Every day he would bush bike ride, train at the gym and on a ski, with plenty of food and rest in between. With World Junior Champion and fellow Cyclone skier Robby Penny to train with, along with former World Champion Ian Dipple and girlfriend and World Silver Medallist Joanne Hamilton, he had the perfect training partners. And it’s interesting to note that Mawer believes that being able to confidently ski on every piece of ski equipment is a vital factor in any racer’s success. He’s put in his fair share of time on a blank plank of wood – no bindings – nothing. Followed a high carbohydrate diet with plenty of water too, if he felt flat, he’d turn to a sugar drink such as Powerade.
In the run up to the World Titles, Mawer notched up an impressive string of victories and Lui pointed out that, “Every one-up race which Wayne started with the Cyclone Team from the beginning of his campaign to the World Title victory, he was the outright winner”. Mawer also reminded me of his victory with World Silver Medallist Steve Robertson at the 1997 Gold Coast Classic two-up race. Another great achievement.
Speculation was rife at the World Titles, about the sums of money invested by the Cyclone Team. Lui points out that the money involved was a lot less than people would like to think. “Sure we did build the best engine possible. Sure we incurred far more cost in air travel etc. than any other team, but if you looked closely, you’d have seen what we didn’t have”. He added, “We had a $7000 ex-ambulance which we bought three years ago and a loaned Toyota 4wd Land Cruiser which a humble 50k on the clock to tow the boats. What I’m trying to get at, is that we only spent money where it had to be spent. We knew we had to have a reliable strong engine and Leigh Holman built just that”. Holman and driver McKay flew to the USA and brought back the best of the best for the engine and the proof was in the pudding …The Cyclone Boat ran like a dream.
At the World Titles it was Mawer, Robertson and Kirkland as the three front runners. But apart from Robertson’s tremendous performance in the Sydney Harbour Round, the rest of the World was never really any real threat. And when I asked Wayne if he was at any stage pushed to the limit he replied, “I was always on my toes, but never at my limit”. His hardest race was Round 3. The water conditions were fast and were beginning to prove tough on his knees. A change of style was needed but he still went on to secure the crown after three clear wins. When I asked him how he felt at that stage in Botany Bay he told me, “Like a little kid with a new toy who wasn’t allowed to play with it, because I still had one race to go and I wasn’t going to let it slip away”.
At 23, Mawer is the undisputed Champion of the World. To watch him in action is a pleasure. One which lends me to recollect the likes of Ian Dipple, Danny Bertels and Wayne Ritchie. Right now he simply wants to have fun and enjoy some wakeboarding in his home town of Cairns. At this stage, another World Title doesn’t interest him, but I hope his mind will change on that.
His advice to other skiers is, “Always be true to yourself. And if you want to get somewhere, don’t be half hearted”, and as an emerging Champion, he sees Britain’s Kim Lumley as having a lot of true potential.
When I finally asked him for his comments on Lui, Gavin and Darren, he responded;
With Gavin, words are not strong enough to describe what I think.
With Darren, he is the bond between our team.
With Lui, the harmony was never broken.
That’s Wayne Mawer. A World Champion who’s earned every round of applause that’s come his way. A World Champion who’s had to struggle. A World Champion with his feet on the ground and his name in the record books.
By Robbie Llewellyn (1997)
Wayne Mawer went on to become the World Wakeboarding Champion in 2001