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The Danny Cropper Story – from Ski Race Review

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 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


Ski Racing NSW held the 2010-2011 Presentation Day at Sackville Ski Gardens for all class winners for the season, along with many other awards.

A massive thank you to all that attended and also to those that sponsored, officiated, supported and competed this last season. Congratulations also to all Hi Tec Oils Series Class competitors on a fantastic season of racing.

The Junior Development camps and days have been an outstanding success, proven by the average age of skiers that have taken home honoured trophy’s from the day.

* Thanks to Brooke Gray for the pics of the day.

Outstanding Achievement awards were presented to the following skiers.

• Male Skier of the Year – Jack Houston

Current Junior Boys World Champion, Jack had an absolutely perfect season of World Selection results and his lead up to defend his World Title in Queensland in September looks set to roll on. He just gets better and better.
Jack won 3 National Titles at the Hi Tec Oils Australian Titles in April, amongst a constantly rising plethora of other titles at the State level, in both Speed and Marathon disciplines. He added another 3 NSW Titles to the booty claimed this season too.
He is moving to another level in facing the challenge of racing the U19’s this season, only missing out on the National Title by 2 seconds to Jake Tegart. Also running in Under 19’s, Jack came 2nd in the 1 up Bridge.
Jack and Ben Hackett/Luke Keys have either won or placed in nearly every F2 Social and Expert race behind Brent & Fyfie and Tuff e Nuff at the Sydney B2B, H120, Mildura and other majors all over Australia.
He won this prestigious Male Skier of the Year Title last Season as well.

• Female Skier of the Year – Ann Procter – (Kennedy)

Ann, 4 time World Champion, added some more prestigious Silverware to her Cabinet taking out the Female Skier of the Year title for season 2010-11.
Ann won a total of 4 Titles at the Hi Tec Oils Australian Speed & Marathon Titles, becoming the most trophied skier of the titles.
Her performance at the World Course Trial in Sept 2010 saw an incredible display of fitness, beating #1 Aussie World Team selection Lauryn Eagle soundly.
Her performances throughout the season were always at an elite level, won with the ease and grace of a true champion. She added another couple of NSW Titles to her collection this season as well as a 2nd placing in F2 in the 1 up Bridge, amongst many others.

• Junior Male Skier of the Year – Jamie Moret

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Jamie has had a great season and should be very proud of his results and achievements.
He took out the Australian Title for Under 16 Boys in April. Qualifying as reserve for the Junior Boys division at the upcoming World Titles would have to have been a highlight too, after some great skiing in the Selection Series races Oz wide.
In the Majors he partnered Brayden Jameson, behind Idle Wild. At the Southern 80 they took home 1st placing in Junior Boys and 2nd at the Mildura 100, Sydney Bridge to Bridge and the 2010 H120.
He went solo for the 2011 NSW Titles & 1 Up Bridge to Bridge and won Under 16 Boys, behind Seven at both.
He also competed at the Grand Prix, Region V & SRNSW Series’, with great success.

• Junior Female Skier of the Year – Shantelle King

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Shantelle is definitely a skier with plenty of guts and grit and she showed that in the SRNSW Series, State Titles, Majors and Nats.
This season Shantelle won both the Australian and NSW Title in Under 13 Girls and Under 13 classes, partnered by Jack Harrison, in the majors, behind Rush.
They partnered for a great 2nd place, just 7 seconds behind the winner at the 2011 GTS Mildura 100, and broke the record at the Southern 80 and Grafton Bridge to Bridge (behind Seven) in Under 13’s. This season included an almost 2 & 1/2 minute win at the 2010 H120.
Individually, Shantelle showed her fitness & stamina when she won the under 13 girls class at the 1up Bridge.
She has shown herself to be a force to be reckoned with in Junior Girls and above too, even placing 7th in the Open Womens division at the NSW Titles.

• Most Improved Skier Male – Brayden Jameson

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Brayden competed at SRNSW events & Region V this season and was improving very quickly, reflected by his lap times, all season long.
He came in for a great 2nd placing in Open Men’s, right behind Zig Walmsley at the 2011 National Titles. Brayden also came 4th in Unlimited Outboard, also behind Tuff N Up at the Titles.
At the Club Marine Southern 80 & Sydney Bridge to Bridge, Brayden teamed up with superstar Jamie Moret to win the Under 16 Expert behind IdleWild. 2nd at Mildura and the 2010 H120, again partnering Jamie, the only way is up for Brayden from here.

• Most Improved Skier Female – Jessica Wood

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Jess won the Most Improved Female Skier of the year for the impressive performance that she showed us on the water this year.
She started this last season behind Nutcracker, partnered by Sarah Brooks, at the 2010 H120 where they came 2nd in Social Womens and they won the class at the Sydney Bridge to Bridge too. She won the 1 up Bridge in Under 16 girls behind The Edge and came home with 2nd in Under 19 Girls at the Southern 80.

• Boat of the Year – Superman

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Darren McQuire and the Superman crew had a fantastic season, rounding it out with the award for the SRNSW Boat of the Year.
One of the most consistent Superclass boats running in Australia, the big F21 Force has also been selected to tow both Lauryn Eagle and Jack Whitton at the 2011 World Titles in September in Queensland.
Consistently in the top 5 in Super Class at the Majors, towing Daniel Cotton & Daniel Graziano, the change to the new hull has been a winning move. The boat runs all over the State and Country including the SRNSW Series, Grand Prix, Nats and State Titles coming home with a swag of trophies wherever they go.

Boat of the year:

1. Superman
2. Tuff E Nuff
3. Stinga
4. Shotgun
5. Seven


• Outright 2 up Team – Stinga

C./ Brooke Gray Images

Greg Houston and Kevin Boylan, crewing the mighty Super Class boat Stinga, are always a force to be reckoned with when it comes to 2up racing. This was the season that Greg made the move to a brand new Force hull, retiring the old Connelly, after what can only be described as a stellar career. To win the Bridge to Bridge once is an honour, but 6 times is the stuff of legends. The sport would be poorer without the Team Stinga presence. The upcoming months will see the crew in readiness for the 17th World Titles in Qld.

Ski Racing NSW congratulates all crews on an awesome season’s racing !

F2 Winners – Team 50

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Dave Coldy

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Tiny Tots Encouragement Award – Carlie Stapleton

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Under 19 Girls – 2nd – Nutcracker

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Kenny Cheetham

c./ Brooke Gray Images

1st – 2Up 6 Litre – Loosin’ it

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Most run out of fuel – Steven Coyte – Shotgun

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Tim Dubios

c./ Brooke Gray Images

2nd – 2Up Under 16 Boys – Pop & Me

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Kevin Boylan

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Robert Brooks

c./ Brooke Gray Images

Gary Hazy

c./ Brooke Gray Images

All pictures, Copyright.* Brooke Gray

Racer of the Fortnight – Jack Houston

Aussie Ski Racer, Jack Houston, took some time out of his busy training schedule, to sit in the Racer of the Fortnight hot seat and answer some questions about his stellar career so far and what’s next for the current, defending, Junior Boys World Champion.

What team are you from / do you ski with ?
Team Stinga Racing / Tuff-e-Nuff

When did you start ski racing ?
When I was 8 in 2002

Where are you from ?
I am from Wilberforce, Sydney, NSW.

Do you get much on water training there ?
Only about once a week. Botany Bay is where I do most of my on water training

How do you prepare for each race?

I have a set routine in the morning, which involves 3 Weetbix when I get up. Before a race, I like to isolate myself from everyone else, I have a certain warm-up and stretching session and I eat a packet of red frogs and a banana.

What classes do you like to compete in most ?

Junior Boys, Social Men, F2.

Which race venues do you enjoy racing at the most and why ?

The Hawkesbury River, because its basically my home and Botany Bay because this is where I do mostly all of my on water training.

What sort of titles / championships do you have under your belt ?

I have won 5 NSW State Titles, 6 Australian Titles and 1 Junior Boys World Title.

Who’s been your biggest influence on your ski racing career?

My father has been my biggest influence on my ski racing career. When I was younger I was inspired by him winning all of these races like the Bridge to Bridge, driving the boat ‘Stinga”. One day I wanted to ski behind him and win some races of my own, so I stepped on a race ski, raced my first race and won. It also happened to be my first National Title too.
I loved the feeling of winning so I kept at it and my ability grew and grew as well as my love for the sport. This then got me to achieving my goal of getting to the top of winning a World Championship.
Without my father pushing me along I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I am sure that I have the same influence on him because if I weren’t racing, he wouldn’t be either.

What’s a memorable moment, ski racing, that you would like to share?

The most memorable moment for me was in 2009, winning my first ever World Championship. I will never forget the fourth race at Viersel, when I crossed that line, the pride that I felt was like nothing else, because I knew that I had truly achieved my goal.
That moment was even more special because I had my family and my close friends by my side throughout my whole campaign.

What are the challenges for you each race?

Well being the current World Champion, my biggest challenge is my competition. All of my competitors are out to get me on the water and beat me.
It is almost like I have a big target on my back, and I have to make sure that they don’t reach that target.

What drives you mentally to train and grow as an athlete ?

The feeling of winning keeps me going because there is nothing better than winning in my eyes and if I don’t feel like I have skied well or have gotten beaten. I will go to the gym the day after and train as hard as I can until I feel like I am ready to do my best again.

If a younger or newer competitor was coming through the ranks what piece of advice would you offer?

I would try to stress to them that it is important that no matter how big your goal may be, if you put the time and effort in, you can achieve that goal.

Do you have some hidden talent ?

I do! I can play the guitar and I can draw fairly well too. But other than that I am not too good at anything else.

What are your goals for 2011 and beyond ?

My ultimate goal at the moment is to win the 2011 World Championships in Queensland and to become the first Skier to win two Junior World Titles in a row. I have already achieved my first step of being the number 1 skier for Australia in Junior Boys.

Would you like to thank any supporters or sponsors?

I would like to thank DC Waterskis, Wizard Wetsuits and Coldy’s for supporting me. Without them my Worlds campaign would not be possible.
Also my family and the Keys family for taking me training, also the Boylan family for their contributions.

** Footnote..- Jack has just won Intermediate Mens @ Catalina 2011, backing up from his win last year in Juniors. He has also won the SRNSW Male Skier of the year for the 2nd time in a row.

…Some movies of Jack in action..

Team Stinga Racing @ the 2009 Belgium Worlds (part 1)

Team Stinga Racing @ the 2009 Belgium Worlds (part 2)

Jack and Ben Hackett behind Team 50/ Tuff e Nuff @ the 2010 Mildura 100

Jack and Ben Hackett finishing Grafton Bridge to Bridge 2009

Gosford World Team Selection Race 2008

*Photography kindly contributed by Linda Keys, Rob Storum, Vanessa Eyles, Billy Lacroix, Craig Coffey, Kate Houston

Racer of the Fortnight – Cameron King

20 Year old American Cameron King lives at Manhattan Beach, California, and when he’s not ski racing, he’s studying Architecture at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

Racer of the Fortnight – Steven Morley

Steven Morley

Steven started in the sport of water ski racing as a youngster in late 1980’s with his father Colin and Mum Carol, as they travelled with the ski racing scene. Over the years he has competed in most events in Australia and few overseas.

A bit about Steven

Steven is a Car Dealer, in Echuca, Victoria, Australia. He is married to Serena and a proud father of Jack 4, Ruby 2 & Milly 6 months.
In the river races, Steven partners James Buser and they ski behind Top Gun with Russell Lewis doing the driving, and with Chris Gelle in the observer’s seat. They compete in Superclass.
In the lake circuits, Steven competes in many events such as his age events (Senior Men’s, Open Men) F2 and this season has had a go at Social Men’s, but “it is scary shit skiing on those small skis”.

Ski Racing Career

Steven started skiing in 1986-87 season. His first Southern 80 was skiing behind Azatak with Harley Nicholls and Andrew Hunt in the boat and skiing with Scott Clever. In 1988 again fronting up for the 80 but this time behind Too Low 4 Zero with Dad, Colin driving and with Darcy Duggan observing whilst skiing with Justin Cadden, again in the Under 13 class.
Teaming up with the Thundernuts crew in 1991– Michael Dominguez, Eugene Bonollo and skier Brett Dominguez, saw the start of a lifetime friendship between the Morley & Dominguez families that is still very strong today.
A highlight in the early years of racing was winning the 1992 Southern 80 as a 16 year old, competing in the 16-19 Boys class in a time of 33:34, with the Thundernuts crew.
1991 /92 season, saw the Thundernuts crew win the Southern 80 and the Mildura 100 and the title of the King of the Murray.
Over the years, as Steven progressed through the different age classes from Under 13’s to Seniors where he skis now, there were trophies for winning point score series, Victorian and South Australian state titles along the journey.
Racing along Steven in those days was his mate, Brett Dominguez. There was a rivalry between them, which saw close racing on the water, pushing each other to develop their skiing ability further, but when it came time for the rivers – they put that aside and skied together. Off the water they were and are best mates. There were many bunny hop competitons along the way – some of which you can see on the Bunnies page.

In 1997 after a ski racing injury, Steven retired from the sport of water ski racing for a while. The 2001 / 02 season, saw Steven lured back to the sport to observe for the Blown Budget / Thundernuts crew. His invaluable experience on the water helped him to be an excellent observer, always looking out for the skier.

Michael & Brett Dominguez encouraged Steven back onto the water in 2002, to ski with the Blown Budget crew. This time Tim Dominguez was in the boat and with Brett & Steven skiing there was a determination in the team to win the Southern 80 yet again. This was achieved in 2003 in a time of 31:42 ( a bit faster than the 1992 time, they played it smarter!). This was probably the most memorable moment for Steven. The 1992 win, although a joy, Steven was too young to really appreciate the win.

Influences on Steven’s Ski Racing Career

Wayne Duggan: “ I spent a lot of time with Wayne as I was growing up, I listened to him”
Gavin Arnott: “ I mimicked his style and admired his skiing”
Michael Dominguez:” He worked hard to make things happen, whether it was driving all night to a ski race, doing engine development / practice on the Saturday. Then racing Sunday and to then turn around to go back home for work on Monday. Michael was a quiet achiever and a gentleman.”

The Southern 80 is Steven’s favourite race for a number of things. It is in his home town – Echuca. He has won it outright twice. There are challenges for the whole team in the event.
Steven said “ I have more of a appreciation of the Bridge to Bridge as I have got older, compared to when I was younger. It is a race of tactics and starting 10 wide is a challenge in itself. When I was younger I would ski as hard as I could for a long as I could, but now I am more aware of tactics and utilising my knowledge of the event to ski to my best.”

Training and Preparing for an event

Getting as much time on the water is an ideal way to prepare for an event. This year it has been somewhat of a challenge, as the Murray River in Echuca, has been in flood or had black water for most of the season. So trips with the family to Melbourne and Geelong to ski on the bay have been made over the season. Gym work about three times a week is also a vital part of Steven’s routine prior to an event.

Advice to younger or new competitors?

Utilise the 7 P’s and lots of preparation are very important.
Communication with your observer is vital, this extends to on land and on water. Your observer should know your style of skiing, your limits and strengths. They are a vital part of the team, as they are the communication point between the skiers and the driver.
If possible stay with one observer, they get to know your strengths and weaknesses better than you, and they know when to push you – they are the vital communicator in the team.

Supporters and Sponsors

Family is vital – Serena, Jack, Ruby & Milly
His sponsors are MAG, Harp of Erin, and Top Gun Ski Racing

Videos of Steven

All Hawkesbury Hot Shots 2010 Sydney Bridge to Bridge Water Ski Race ( 1st Corner )
Top Gun 2nd Outright 2010 Sydney Bridge to Bridge water ski race
TOP GUN Ski Racing Team
Top Gun Ski Race Team website

Racer of the Fortnight – Michael Kelly

This fortnight’s featured ‘Racer of the Fortnight’ is Queensland ski racer Michael ( Mick ) Kelly.

Mick is exceptionally talented in all aspects of skiing, driving and observing.

Recently, as part of Noel Griffin Racing (NGR) Mick has shown his versatility on many occasions, taking numerous outright placing trophies from races all over Australia in Super Class skiing behind Burnin’.

There have also been many others in crew  positions, in this boat and many others, all over Australia, and indeed the World.

In events like the 2009 Belgium World Titles, Mick donned the Observers jacket, helping Chris Stout to a fantastic 3rd placing in F1 Mens,  just behind Wayne Mawer and Todd Haig on points.

The guys are focused on making the Aussie Team again in F1 for the 2011 World Ski Racing Titles, to be held near his hometown of Brisbane.

During the 2010 – 11 season he has also been driving NGR’s Burnin’ to wins in Junior Boys and in Veterans @ the H120, towing Shane ‘Japs’ Helson and Darren Apps. The guys grabbed a great 2nd placing,  just seconds behind the winner.

He jumped on the ski again to take out Unlimited Outboard with Joel Massey at the 2010 Sydney Bridge to Bridge behind 2 Wild.

Mick sat down and tackled a few questions for SkiRace.Net, as our ‘Racer of the Fortnight’.

  • Biggest influence on your ski racing career?

Noel Griffin without a doubt. From his humble beginnings, to the force he now is in ski racing, his love of the sport has never waned, which has been great to be around. He’s also helped me out more than I can begin to mention.

  • What team?

Technically I’m a freelancer now, just skiing with whoever will tow me, but I’d say my primary position is observer/driver/skier/trailer biatch/ rope put’er’on’a’rer /Pidge’s ski carrier  for NGR. Whatever needs doing.

  • Where are you from?

Ipswich, Queensland.

  • When did you start ski racing ?

I think my first real race was Under 16 Social at the Southern 80 in 95’.

  • What classes do you compete in?

Whatever I can ! I have skied in everything from Social to Super Class, and continue to drive and observe in whatever boat has a spare seat.

  • Supporters / Sponsors?

My Wife.

NGR. (Noel Griffin Racing)

Prop Industries.

DK Disc’s and Ski Fabrication.

  • Which race / venue do you enjoy racing the most?

Hard to pass up the Victorian river races, they’re always fun races, but I’ve always got a soft spot for Moogerah Dam in Qld. Nothing like a home ground advantage.

  • What titles / championships do you have under your belt?

Have won a few here and there, skiing and observing.

I have held a MOC Australian Title, and had a few Qld ones in Mens and Marathon under the belt in years gone by.

3rd in F1 Mens at Belgium Worlds observing for Chris Stout, would have to rank pretty highly though.

  • What is a memorable moment, ski racing, that you would like to share?

Any Qld Title race against Pidge (Grant Turner) springs up. They’re always a bit too close for my liking.

Towing ‘Special’ (Seanne Kelly) to a Qld Marathon Title win over some good competition comes to mind.

Also having to sit around for hours after the final race in Belgium to find out if we’d taken third or not is something I won’t forget.

Driving Burnin at the H120 and winning with the kids was pretty sweet too.

  • What are the challenges for you each race?

Biggest problem is that there are too many other talented ski racers out there to compete with.

Each race is different and the challenges vary depending on which position in the team I’m in at the time.

I have had a lot of ups and downs in skiing, and overcoming injuries or getting yourself back to the right standard for races after slacking is always difficult.

  • How do you prepare for each race?

I try and get as much on water work as I can, social skiing, the occasional bay run. Gym.

Again, it depends what job I’m doing. I like to have a clear picture in my head about the job at hand, the course and competition.

Observing wise I like to do a bit of research about upcoming races, who we’re competing against, the venue etc.

Then if I’m skiing … there’s nothing wrong with a few nerves.

  • If a younger or newer competitor was coming through the ranks what piece of advice would you offer?

Get your technique right, be prepared, take your time to develop your skiing skills and think about what you’re doing.

Don’t try and do it all straight away, you won’t get to be as good as Pidgeon overnight.

  • Do you have a hidden talent ?

Disc’n. Not sure it’s much of a talent, but will give myself and Pidge a wrap as some of the original gangsters of disc riding – far too much spare time’s been spent on them.

  • What are your goals for 2011 ?

The posts keep changing ! A month ago I would have said Grafton Bridge to Bridge, but that’s gone by the wayside for now. Probably getting Chris Stout to the Worlds is the main one, not that he’ll need much of my help, that man is a machine! Other than that just stay safe on the ski.

  • What other ways do you help promote or organize ski racing ?

I’m the Vice Captain of Ski Racing Queensland, and a ‘reporter’ for , just trying to get ski racing out to as many people as possible.

Some movies of Mick in action ..

Mick skiing behind 2Wild @ the 2010 Sydney Bridge to Bridge

Mick behind Burnin\’ 2010 Qld State Titles

Mick and Pidge do battle 2010 Qld State Titles

Behind Burnin with Tom Smith – Robinvale 2010

Mick and Tom finishing 2010 Southern 80 (3rd Outright)

2009 Barrie Beehag – Behind Burnin\’

Driving Burnin\’, Qld Series Day, Moogerah Dam

Burnins start Mildura 100 2010 with Mick & Tom skiing

* Thanks to contributing photographers,

Paula Newland – Racer Of The Fortnight

Britains F2 Ladies skier Paula Newland admits that being around boats and water skiing all her life just gets better as she gets older! We put Paula in the hot seat for the 1st of our fortnightly Focuses

Darren Kirkland Retires as European Champion after 33 Years of Racing

A PDF of the magazine version of this article is available for download here

It will be unusual to watch international water ski racing without Darren Kirkland competing at the very highest level. When he started racing behind boat number 33 as a young boy, his destiny was perhaps written on the side of his boat in the form of #33, for him to compete for another 33 years. This is something that very few racers ever have and ever will do. People come and go, enjoying short glimpses of the limelight on a ski, but ‘Kirky’ has enjoyed over three decades in the spotlight on an international stage.

Wade Bennett

Wade Bennett- Walking on water and other miracles ‘ from the  2010 Southern 80 Program

Wade Bennett and his family have been involved with the Southern 80 since 1981, when Wade (9), having skied since the age of 4, skied with his sister Nicole (11) in their first ever ski race, in Social Sub Juniors. They placed 3rd after their Dad Terry’s boat ‘Fleetwood’ ran out of fuel on the last corner. Luckily a kind soul on the river bank had a jerry can of fuel and they got Fleetwood fired up again to record a finish, much to the delight of spectators at the finish line.

In the years following, both Wade and Nicole skied in river races in various age and motor divisions, whilst their Dad took on the job of the Chief starter of the great race.

Dawna Patterson Brice Enters Hall of Fame

On January 30th, 2010, Dawna Patterson Brice was inducted into the Riverside Sports Hall of Fame (Riverside California). She was recognized for her contributions to the city of Riverside as well as her athletic achievements. 

Watch the 2008 Karl Brooks Memorial Golf Day DVD

Andrew Moore (Steve Moore’s son) and Sarah Cramphorn have pulled together and published a wonderfully touching film to remember the recent Karl Brooks Memorial golf day in England.

Karl Brooks Memorial

July 2008
At the closing ceremony of the 2008 European Water Ski Racing Championships, Karen and Martin Brooks collected an award on behalf of their son Karl Brooks, who was tragically lost in June 2007. EAME Racing Chairman Mike Waterman presented the award.

Fred Williams

Written in 1982 – When one talks of the history of water ski racing in Australia the name Fred Williams is constantly mentioned. Fred’s involvement for some 31 years has contributed to him being one of the best known personalities in the world of water skiing.

Bob Wing – up to 1982

The ‘Wing’ name is synonymous with water skiing all over the world and I couldn’t even begin to try and name the family’s accomplishments. However in 1982, Bob Wing wrote a great book called ‘Waterskiing in Australia’. Some time ago, Bob kindly gave me permission to reproduce articles from his book here on You can see a list of all that I’ve reproduced here.

Bob has done a lot more in the decades that have followed his book, but below is a 1982 article about Bob and his accomplishments at that stage, along with his own introduction to his book.

Thank you Bob.

Robbie Llewellyn

Terry Bennett – up to 1982 plus 2007 podcast interview

Commencing Trial Skiing in 1966, he teamed up with Peter Ward behind Wally Hackett’s “Thunderbolt” which was a leading ski team for many years. Terry’s greatest achievement was to set a World Endurance Record in 1970 when he skied 538.1 miles in12 hours, 15 minutes and thirty seconds.

Martin Davies – 40 years of Chequered Flags

Water Ski Racing’s Hall of Fame Inductees

Chuck Stearns, Mike Avila and Marsha Fitzgerald – As in most sports, water ski racing has seen its fair share of accomplished athletes over the years.

Marsha Fitzgerald – 2008 Hall of Fame Inductee

USA Water Ski has today reported that the American Water Ski Educational Foundation’s 10-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee has announced that Kris LaPoint and Water Ski Racing’s Marsha Fitzgerald will be the 2008 AWSEF Water Ski Hall of Fame inductees.

Help Promote Ski Racing’s Champions

The Terry Bennett Interview – Podcast


The 2007 World Champions

World Champion Todd Haig Set to Defend Title

Carlo Cassa Awarded by GB

Chuck Stearns

Chuck Stearns – 1982 Hall of Fame Inductee

Mike Avila – 2002 Hall of Fame Inductee

Sam Frey (2005)

Todd Haig (2006)

Kim Lumley (2006)

Bronwyn Wing

Ski Racing Aussie Style

Terry Bennett’s Top 10 (1982)

terry-bennett.jpgReproduced from “Water Skiing in Australia”, courtesy of Bob Wing.

Written by Terry Bennett (photo left) in 1982.

Over the past twenty years I have had the opportunity to ski against the skiers who have in the comparative short life span of the sport of water ski racing been regarded as the best skier on the water at the height of their success.

Read more about Terry Bennett

The names and their position into which I place them will cause plenty of room for discussion. A lot of names that are well known in the sport today are missing. This also will cause discussion but I believe that the list is close to the mark, because all the skiers have been the best at their particular time, and to be the best you have to have the dedication and ability to be a continued winner and there are a lot of skiers around who are great skiers and win a few races, but there is always one skier who is regarded as the best. These are skiers I have selected in the top 10 Australians.

The fastest skier ever to step into a ski. Paul’s ability to go fast was backed by tremendous endurance created by a lifetime of competitive barefooting. Paul was unbeatable when the boat held together. Nevertheless and with a tremendous will to win, Paul skied in competition both in Australia and in the U.S. and proved his ability to ski faster and longer than anyone.

robbie-woods.jpgAt 18 Robbie had won everything that was to be won in Australia and the U.S. A tremendously strong skier, Robbie was not as classy as McManus and didn’t chase the high speeds like McManus. Sheer strength and ability won Woods his races and like McManus has been a continual boat breaker with the result that both skiers would have won even more races than they did.


chicka-noel.jpgNot a lot of skiers on the water today will remember Chicka but like McManus and Woods in their time Chicka was the best. When races were all 60 miles and held on Saturday afternoons in Botany Bay and around Sydney Harbour, Chicka crouched over his ski and holding onto a single slalom bar wore the competition out.

Chicka did not have the opportunity to compete overseas, but he would have been right in there with U.S. stars Chuck Stearns and Butch Peterson. Chicka, like McManus had a background of competitive skiing, tournament, rather than barefoot, and Chicka´s will to win was best demonstrated when with his son Charles was the only boat to finish in a gruelling race around Lake Macquarie, late in his career. Chicka spent a week in hospital from Exhaustion following the event and if his time had been today, using the quality of skis and techniques used today, he would show why I select him No. 3 of Australia’s best ever.

bruce-robberds-small.jpgFor over fifteen years Bruce has been a top line contender, and in fact got better as he got older. Until a recent injury forced retirement, Bruce Robberds, at the age of 42 was still beating the cream of Australia’s Ski Racers. I believe Bruce Robberds to be a better skier than Chuck Stearns who won the Catalina for the 11th time. It is a pity that Bruce Robberds didn’t ever visit the U.S. to compete. With his attitude to competition he would have been a great success.

Rory could finish at Number 2 before his career is over. A brilliant skier, Rory needs to pick up a little more dedication to back up the brilliance he has. Like Robbie Woods, who needed 6 months of hard work to show the World he was the best, Rory needs a lot of hard work to be able to run down the fit Europeans who stand between him and the World Title.

Like McManus, another freekick skier at high speed, this ability combined with superb reflexes and a physique that didn’t need to be conditioned. Jones was unbeatable in the late 60´s. Wayne demonstrated his ability in Europe in 1972 when he won the European Grand Prix, by nearly five minutes from Europe’s best. The only reason Wayne is not higher on the list is that a spirit of self preservation did not let him really show the world how good he was.

wayne-ritchie.jpgWinner of the Worlds first ever Ski Racing Title, Wayne, like Wayne Jones, was a super fast skier with tremendous reflexes. One of the arts of ski racing is the ability to let the body and legs absorb the wave that stand up unexpectedly or the continued shock of rough water. Wayne had this ability and at the height of his career was the best on the water.

A top line skier in the sixties, Ginger skied with Jack Murray in the early Australian Marathons and was one of the first speed skiers and if timing devices had been available would have been the first skier to crack 100 m.p.h. Like McManus and Jones, McKewan was a natural skier and rated in my top ten.

chris-massey.jpgOnly serious injury prevented Geoff Burgess being further up the list of Australia’s best skiers. Geoff won and Australian Title and skied in a most casual sty, fearless when on the water. A brilliant skier and a tremendous natural athlete, Geoff did not get the opportunity to capitalise on his ability due to the injury suffered when he fell at a speed of over 130 m.p.h. while attempting to set a World Water Ski Speed Record.

Ray Wheeler, Geoff or John Hardaker, Wayne Atta, Peter Ward, Col Billington, Glen Faust, Barry Cairn and many more have been at or near the top and I think the discussion caused by the above list allow number 10 to be left to your own judgement.

Written by Terry Bennett

Read the Fred Williams article

Bob Wing added …
I think Terry Bennett was a brave man to put his pen to paper to the above article and I will add my name to the list in Col Billington who with Paul McManus was unbeatable in the early seventies. As well as breaking the sound barrier with under one hour in the Bridge to Bridge, he showed real courage to go out in the first ever officially timed speed attempt to go over 90 m.p.h. flat chat behind “Caroline” and to add to this, his effort in breaking the world endurance record after working on the motor practically all night was exceptional.

This article was reproduced from “Water Skiing in Australia”.
Courtesy of Bob Wing.
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