Ham­mond’s got drive to win

World bid de­mands team work

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

A Mata­mata man will be be­hind the wheel of two wa­ter­skiers’ ef­forts to win at the World Wa­ter­ski Rac­ing Cham­pi­onships in Welling­ton.

Paul Ham­mond has driven the two wa­ter skiers, Perry Jamieson and Natalia Flex­man, to suc­cess mul­ti­ple times.

Re­cently the two, who are based in Hamil­ton and How­ick, won five ti­tles be­tween them at the New Zealand Wa­ter­ski Cham­pi­onships. Jamieson also re­cently won the most pres­ti­gious New Zealand race, the 100 miler, which is an hour and a half race.

Ham­mond be­lieves this year is the best op­por­tu­nity for his skiers to get in the top three at the worlds be­cause it is be­ing held in New Zealand and both are at their phys­i­cal peak. Flex­man was fifth at the last world cham­pi­onships in Spain.

Of Jamieson, Ham­mond said: ‘‘Nor­mally for peo­ple to ad­vance to the level where he is now it takes three to five years and he has come along in the last two years. He was a just av­er­age skier who wasn’t go­ing to go any­where and then he de­cided he wanted to go the worlds.’’

That was 18 months ago. Since then, Jamieson has been train­ing in the gym six days a week and even Cy­clone Pam didn’t stop them from get­ting out on Tau­ranga Har­bour to prac­tise. ‘‘We have to train in those con­di­tions be­cause it’s no good just train­ing in good weather.’’ The cham­pi­onships will hap­pen whether its windy or calm.

A phys­i­cally strong and men­tally com­mit­ted wa­ter­skier is only part of the es­sen­tial team. There also needs to be a skilled driver and ob­server. Jamieson’s dad, Mike, orig­i­nally acted as a driver be­fore he took an ob­server role on the boat and Ham­mond took the wheel. Ham­mond, who drove the New Zealand skiers at the worlds in 2011, said ex­pe­ri­ence was the key to good driv­ing.

‘‘I have been do­ing it for 10 years.’’ He also said, like any sport, you needed to want to win. ‘‘You need to have a bit of mon­grel in yah to want to win races.’’

Driv­ing a boat, which has a 300 horse power en­gine that can reach speeds of 85mph (136kmh) was not like driv­ing a race car, as you had to ac­count for fac­tors like cur­rents and weather con­di­tions. Even Nitro Cir­cus’ Travis Pas­trana strug­gled to get the knack of driv­ing when the crew jumped on Ham­mond’s boat the morn­ing be­fore they per­formed in Hamil­ton. ‘‘All he wanted to do was go fast, as he does, and I told him he just needed to back off a lit­tle and go slower and then bring up your speed, and he got bet­ter.’’

Meet­ing Pas­trana and other Nitro Crew mem­bers, and get­ting the VIP treat­ment at the show that night, was a high­light of Ham­mond’s time be­ing in­volved in wa­ter­ski­ing.

Ham­mond said wa­ter­ski­ing wasn’t a very well recog­nised sport in New Zealand, un­like Australia, which made fundrais­ing harder, although he had gained some Mata­mata busi­ness spon­sors. The Re­doubt Bar and Eatery ran a karma keg, where pa­trons paid as much as they wanted for a beer, which raised $900 for Ham­monds’ New Zealand wa­ter­ski rac­ing team.

They need $16,000, to cover fuel costs for train­ing and rac­ing, ac­com­mo­da­tion for the 10- day event, ship­ping a boat from Australia and back, plus in­sur­ance and new equip­ment for the event in Welling­ton from April 11-18.

Photo: MARK SLACK

Mata­mata’s Paul Ham­mond will be­hind the wheel of two wa­ter skiers’ ef­forts to win at the World Wa­ter Ski Rac­ing Champs. The team has had to sac­ri­fice fam­ily and busi­ness time to train.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

– Paul Ham­mond

Paul Ham­mond, ready for ac­tion.

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