Wakeboarder jets to Canada for Worlds
WAKEBOARDING: For teenage wakeboarder Hayden Fuller, the Clarence River is his playground. And he could not have asked for a better location in preparation for a World Championships tilt.
The Coffs Harbour native trains out of the Big River Ski Lodge at Sealands and has been involved in the sport for only four years.
Now, after making his return from a snapped ankle which forced him to sit on the sidelines for two months and cost him a shot at the Australian title, Fuller has his sights set on the WWA World Championships in Canada.
"The nerves are not too bad, I am about two months back from injury now," he said.
"It was pretty devastating to miss the Australian Championships, but dad said we could go to Worlds so I am stoked for that.
"I am back to my 100% full riding and I am happy with the way I am riding at the moment."
The 13-year-old, trained by Scotty Kell at Black Diamond Wakeboard School in Wisemans Ferry, will be hoping to continue Australia's recent dominance on the world stage.
Which, for a competitor who entered the sport on a whim four years ago, is no mean feat.
"It all started at the Big River Ski Lodge," he said.
"I bought my own wakeboard three weeks before a competition and told dad I wanted to do it.
"He was not too keen about it at first, but we have been to every wakeboarding event in Australia since."
The Nautique Central boats rider has been hitting the Clarence River surface pretty hard in recent weeks, training alongside younger brother Cody, 12, who is also a National Championships competitor.
"I have been up here every weekend training for worlds," Fuller said.
"I am just trying to get everything consistent, my heel five* has been a little off recently, so I am just trying to get that one back.
"I am not really nervous, I am just really looking forward to going overseas and having fun.
"Coming away with a title is something in the back of my mind, but I have not been focussing on that too much."
Fuller, who is supported by CWB Wakeboards, will be joined in Canada by fellow competitors who also train out of the Sealands ski lodge, Haydon Bru, 13, former Under 9 champion McKenzie McCarthy, 13, and junior men competitor Bryce Grey.
And while the Championships will take a lot of physical strength and acrobatics from the talented youngster, it will also be a test of his mental toughness.
Which if you ask the young competitor, that is how it is every time he is out on wake, so at the Worlds it will hopefully be just like it is at home.
The Nautique WWA Wakeboard World Championships kick off in Toronto, Canada on Thursday, August 25.
*For wakeboarding novices, such as this reporter, a "heel five" is a heelside 540. Where a rider will leap off the wake on his heelside and rotate 540 degrees, or one and a half turns, before landing.