Teenage waterski racers' need for speed
Thu, 09 Aug 2012 6:29p.m.
By Tony Wright
With the Kiwi rowing team in London, their home waters of Lake Karapiro are being put to good use by the country's best waterski racers, as they train for October’s Bridge to Bridge Classic.
Teenagers Mitchell Horan and Kane Carter are two of those out on the water, and they have a serious need for speed.
“You know you're five or six feet above the water on a 30 millimetre wide ski doing 160km/h, it's a good buzz,” says Carter.
But with extreme speed comes extreme danger. Last October the sport claimed the life of a speed-skier on Lake Taupo.
“I don't generally try to think about it when I'm out there. You just got to concentrate on what you're doing, you don't really want to think about falling off. If you look down, you’re probably going to go down,” says Horan.
Sixteen-year-old Horan never skis without donning a myriad of safety equipment, including a neck brace. But only a helmet is compulsory, and that suits the more rakish Carter just fine.
“I only wear the bare minimum, which isn't too good,” he says. “It's a pretty scary thing but, I’ve done it heaps, done it for a long time so you get pretty used to it.”
Waterski racing is very much a team sport, with the driver and the observer crucial to a skier's success. Horan's observer knows him well; he's also his father.
“I don't have to signal as much as I used to, so he can tell what I’m thinking,” says Horan.
And the more powerful boat, the better. This fact is best shown by the big-spending Australians who dominate the sport internationally.
“They grow up behind big boats from an early age, I grew up from 11 or 12 behind a small little outboard, so it's the opportunity they have I think that gives them an advantage,” says Horan.
And they'll be plenty of Aussies here for October’s Bridge to Bridge Classic.
“The whole race is about 83 kilometres, so I think last year it took us just over 40 minutes,” says Carter.
“You're pretty sore by the time you go from Cambridge to Taupiri, and the run home's pretty sore, but just power through it I guess.”
A typically understated answer from a very extraordinary young Kiwi.
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