Deniliquin’s Lugaidh Jennings-Gallagher is making a quick climb through the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation rankings following a strong showing at the 2019 Mastercraft Australian Junior Masters waterski tournament last month.
The 14 year-old slalom skier equalled his personal best of one buoy at 58km/h on a 14m line to finish sixth overall in the Under 17s competition, and second in the Group B division.
The result from the two-day event — held January 19 and 20 — saw Lugaidh catapulted into the IWWF Under 17s top 100, currently sitting at 97th in the world.
Lugaidh said the world ranking was just one step towards his ultimate goals on the water.
‘‘It feels good (to have a top 100 world ranking), it was a bit of a goal of mine,’’ he said.
‘‘I want to be the first Australian skier to get a world record in slalom, that’s my biggest goal.
‘‘At the start of last year my personal best was 43km/h on an 18m line but with the change in age group, from Under 14s to Under 17s, I was forced to ski at 55km/h.
‘‘I’ve recorded a new PB every competition so hopefully I can keep improving.’’
Lugaidh’s efforts this season have already seen him qualify for the NSW Titles and Nationals, with both events to be held in Moree in April.
The Deniliquin Boat Club skier’s most recent result saw him finish third at Narrandera on the weekend, on a day where conditions saw all skiers fall on their first pass due to tough water conditions.
His quick climb through the ranks has also led to him being picked as part of the Reserve Junior Development program.
‘‘I want to branch out to jump ski and trick events,’’ Lugaidh said.
‘‘I’ve been taught some of the basics by Olivia Collicoat and I practice here on the Edward River.
‘‘I’m still trying to work out a few different tricks but it’s such a thrill learning them.
‘‘I love waterskiing because it’s a sport where nobody else can bring you down.
‘‘It’s all up to you and I embrace the pressure that comes along with it all being down to me.
‘‘I love the adrenaline that racing along the water gives.’’
Lugaidh’s passion for waterskiing started at the age of six, when he first started Sunday Ski School at the Deni Boat Club.
Ski School gave him the opportunity to try many different events, including the Barefoot Australia Championships, Let’s Ride Wakeboard Pros and a two-day slalom tournament with world class skier Olivia Collicoat.
‘‘Without the Deni Boat Club I wouldn’t be where I am today,’’ Lugaidh said.
‘‘We went to ski school for the first time and were welcomed in right away. The club members kind of became our family and I’m so thankful for everything they’ve done.
‘‘Judy Jordan was the teacher who helped me go from doubles to singles and she has helped with my slalom.
‘‘I also would train with Nate Hehir and Troy Lea. Nate competed in slalom and on Wednesday nights he would take me through the course, which encouraged me to compete.
‘‘I still go to Ski School every week and help out where I can. I want to give back as they have and continue to give me so much.’’