Uckfield teenager Sam Clark has been selected to represent Britain at the World Water Ski Racing Championships in Wellington, New Zealand, next year.
The 16-year-old from Rocks Park was chosen by the British Water Ski and Wakeboard Racing Committee to represent her country in the junior girls category, writes Jacob White.
This accolade is all the greater as Sam’s GCSE examinations meant she started the 2014 season late and her first ski was with a different crew, behind a borrowed boat.
There were some problems, such as the driver missing a turn buoy, but Sam managed the distance and finished in a creditable fifth place in the first round of the European Cup at The Stone Club, Essex.
Sam was able to compete behind her new boat in time for European Cup races in Belgium at Viersel and Geel where she finished fourth overall.
This achievement was noteworthy because the new boat had been built to 2015 rules and had less than half the horsepower of the top three finishers.
At national level, Sam entered races at Brixham, Whitstable and Allhallows winning the junior girls’ category every time.
The water ski sporting circuit sounds glamourous but Sam and her team rarely get the chance to explore the countries where they compete. They spend most of their time at, or near, the boat pits area.
Her father Gary said: “When Sam competed in Tenerife we had four races in a week and we did have ‘rest days’ but I spent all day checking and rebuilding the boat and Sam was with the physio trying to get her legs ready for the next race.”
Sam trains for competitions at Newhaven Marina or at The Stone Club in Essex, the Essex club is the nearest that specialises in water ski racing.
Away from the water Sam, who used to play netball for Uckfield Community Technology College, is studying art, photography and business studies at Sussex Downs College, in Lewes.
Water skiing is not an Olympic event yet and as a result the government cut all funding in the run up to the 2012 London Games making it a costly sport to take part in.
British water skiers of all disciplines have been relatively successful in recent years at a world level but in order to compete they have to be self-funding.
To enter the British championship junior skiers have to pay British Water Ski £400 (rising to £800 at Senior level) and a licence fee of £40.
Sam is set to be the highest ranked European junior, boy or girl, from the last world championships able to qualify for Wellington next year
However, the cost of competing is so high and with no grant money available from British Water Ski, Sam’s only hope of taking part is to find a sponsor.
The cost of the container the Clark family used to ship a boat to compete in the last world championships in Tenerife in 2013 was £5,500.
If you would like to sponsor Sam and help her get to the world championships in Wellington, which take place from April 8 to 19, 2015, please contact Sam’s father Gary on 01825 766090.