IN A sport he once did just for fun, Emerald water skier Brad Croaker has the Central Region competition looking over their shoulders.
Croaker was a social skier for eight of his 20 years but last year made the decision to give the sport a proper crack.
A second place finish in round five of the series in Blackwater saw him cement his best finish to date.
The Blackwater Ski Club saw 25 skiers travel to the Bedford Weir from Mackay, Dysart, Rockhampton, Theodore and Emerald to compete.
Croaker scored three buoys at 58km/h and admitted his sudden rise to the top of division three was a surprise.
"It was good and very surprising, I was pretty happy at the end of the competition," the 20-year-old said.
"I have done well in most of my comps and this was another personal best.
"As I am getting used to the course I have been getting better and better.
"Before this year I would just ski for fun and muck around.
"We used to ski a fair bit and I guess it's just the next step. After seeing videos of professionals it is something I knew I had to try."
Born in Charters Towers, Croaker crafted a career on the waterways of the Burdekin Dam and Ross River in Townsville. He said he looked forward to climbing the ranks of Australian skiers.
"I am only in division three, two and one to go still," he said.
"They start shortening the ropes the higher up you go.
"I haven't really started skiing consistently yet, once I can do that and race well, I will go back down to Moura and keep improving.
"Mel Collins and Darryl Shorten took me under their wing in Moura - I'd just like to thank them for all their help, otherwise I wouldn't be anywhere near as good as I am.
"I love that you can't be better than the sport - it is such a challenge."
Central Queensland Waterski's Lois Spelta said the Blackwater tournament saw the most Emerald representatives in years.
"It's great to see so many local skiers competing at CQ's favourite tournament ski the Bedford Weir," Spelta said.
Emerald's Derek Lee finished in third place behind Mackay's Chris Anderson and Croaker with two buoys at 55km/h.
Blake Field, 10, took out third place in Division five, skiing into an impressive 40km/hr pass.
The next round is at Lake Victoria on March 12 and 13.
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