Lee Stone, Derbyshire's Freestyle Jet Skier
PUBLISHED: 12:55 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 20 February 2013
Alex Carlisle meets Chesterfield's champion Jet Skier, Lee Stone
At first glance Lee Stone seems like any other 18 year old, apart from his good looks which are a little reminiscent of a young Jude Law, though probably more masculine sorry Jude. Softly spoken, confident yet unassuming in his manner Lee is, and Im sure there are many young ladies who will agree, an attractive blend of action man and gentleman.
A native of Spital, Chesterfield, Lee has been at the very top of his game for some considerable time and in 2005 entered the history books as the youngest ever winner of the Freestyle Jet Ski World Championship. He was 14 and often beating grown men at their own game. At just 16 he turned professional. His list of achievements is as long as your arm, he has won the British title no less than four times, the European Championship three times, while in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 he claimed the World Championship.
If it werent for a technical fault with his Jet Ski on Lake Havasu, Arizona, the 2009 world title would have been his too. Shortly after this Lee commented: I am disappointed not to have retained the world title, but at the same time pleased to have secured third place despite a fault with my jet ski, which really impaired my routine. It is frustrating, but I am determined to return in 2010 and win back the title. Perhaps tough words from a tough competitor.
Talking to Lee last autumn in a comfortable meeting room at his fathers business premises, Dave Stone Design, and far from any water, he told me how it all began. I started riding Jet Skis when I was five, with my Dad. When I was ten I got really into it. I used to watch my friends practising free style. I started idolising them. It was nothing serious, just a bit of fun, I wanted to be able to do some tricks like they were doing. When I was eleven they encouraged me to start competing, so I did. I entered the junior class and won the championship in my first year.
Some thanks are owed to an old running machine that belonged to Lees father, Dave. A friend of Daves had a jet ski but needed a running machine, so he said: I tell you what, Ill give you the running machine if you give me the Jet Ski.
Lee took to it immediately and his enthusiasm for his sport has not waned over the years. Sometimes, said Lee in a tone as if what he was about to say was no big deal, I will break the ice to get some practice.
Practice when Lee is at home takes place at Rother Valley Country Park and is something he takes very seriously, spending up to six or seven hours per day on the Jet Ski. Determination runs through his veins. On one occasion Lee was sofocused on achieving a back flip that, despite blood and bruises, he didnt come off the Jet Ski until hed achieved his goal attempting it 300 times every day for five days.
Lee spends two and half hours every day training in the gym. His fitness regime consists of weight lifting, running and circuit training as well as mountain biking. Cardio fitness is essential, as is building up muscle and strength in order to make my last trick as good as the first during a competition. Lee uses a variety of Multipower products to help fuel his training and aid recovery, including Multi Carbo bars for energy supply and Advance Protein Shakes.
An aspiring footballer would probably choose David Beckham as a suitable role model, a Formula 1 driver perhaps the great Schumacher. For Lee there were few, if any, role models to show him the way. He said, When I turned 16 and became professional I knew it was time to step up. I have motivated myself.
As with Schumacher in Formula 1, Lee is a driving force in the evolution of the sport, declaring, I want to move the sport forward, with new faster tricks and routines. Im working on two boat wake jumps which will enable me to complete a double back flip. This has never been done before in the history of the sport. Lee recalls with an air of admiration how Travis Pastrana was the first rider in Motocross to achieve the double back flip.
When probed about the danger, Lee said, The element of danger helps me focus. It gives me the motivation to make sure I give 100 per cent, because if I dont and Im 40 feet in the air, all I have is six feet of water to land in. If I land badly it could lead to serious injury. And because of this I do sometimes get scared before a big event, but Im also scared of losing, and that focuses me even more. Cuts to the chin, stitches, bruises and broken bones have not put Lee off his sport. Most of my injuries have come from the jet ski landing on me, otherwise its a safe sport.
Though Lee did not have any role models, his talents were spotted by the great Brazilian jet ski rider and world champion Alessandro Lenzi. Lenzi trained Lee in Brazil for up to four months of every year until Lee graduated to professional level when Lee started beating his mentor. Lee said pensively, We became good friends, but obviously the mentoring relationship had to end when I started beating him. It was a funny mix of feelings of wanting to beat him but also feeling sad for him that I had. But I had put so much work into training and making my own name in the sport that I could not hold back. We are still on good terms.
Lee can spend up to nine months of the year abroad competing and training all over the world, but when he is at home he tries to give something back to the sport by training up-and-coming riders. He also has his own brand of skis and can build and supply an entire free style jet ski. His name in the sport is helping the business to grow, and its doing really well, Lee admitted.
When asked if he has any dreams for the future, he replied tellingly, Im living the dream, as long as I can compete and do what I love doing.