Susan Cartwright.
Susan Cartwright. The Northern Star

Stay fit to go fast

BALLINA water ski racer Susan Cartwright is planning a trip cruising canals around Belgium.

Unlike most holidaymakers, she plans to do it at 100km/h.

The 31-year-old will use the Queensland Ski Racing Championships at Grafton this weekend as preparation for the Australian team trials for the world championships in Europe next year.

A five-time Queensland champion, Cartwright said the Grafton race would be hard-fought.

"It's all hard at this standard," she said.

"Some of the girls who are on the world team come up for it as well.

"It will be a gauge of how I am doing against a couple of country's best."

Cartwright started skiing aged eight, won her first national title aged 10 and is now ranked among the top four female skiers in Australia.

She said she was a good chance of making the five-woman Australian team when qualifying starts in October.

"It's up to me now," she said.

"I have the ability. Speed doesn't worry me. As long as I'm fit I'll be right to get into the worlds (titles).

"When you let the speed worry you, that's when you have problems. It's all in your mind."

But it can be a lot for the mind to take.

At Grafton, Cartwright will ski for 80km behind the Gotta Go team boat which, with a twin-turbo, 502 cubic inch engine putting out about 1000hp, will reach speeds of up to 160km/h.

The open division race puts skiers through 40 minutes of intense physical pressure.

"Your hands get sore trying to hold on, and your legs get sore," Cartwright said.

"It's all in your head - how tired your are. It's hard to explain how tired you get.

"It's hard work, that's for sure. The faster you go the more pull on your whole body it's got. You need to be strong to keep your ski out in front of you and you have to control it after the waves."

It's easy to lose control when you're hanging on to an 80-metre ski rope.

"I hit a log in Maryborough in October last year," Cartwright said. "It was a good one. I tore a fin out of my ski and just cart-wheeled and cart-wheeled about six times before landing head first.

"I needed heaps of physiotherapy. I was within half a centimetre of getting a permanent dead arm, where you pull all your nerve endings away from the neck.

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