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Posted Monday, July 2, 2007
Lee Stone: (Original unedited version) -Reflections Magazine, 2005
Move over Ellen MacArthur, the landlocked county of Derbyshire has another World Champion riding the crest of the wave of success after leaving competitors trailing in his wake!
`Britain's youngest ever world champion in any sport - at just 14 years of age!'
Britain’s Youngest-Ever World Champion - Wingerworth’s Jet-Ski wonderboy Lee Stone is turning the world upside down and has shattered just about every record in the book to become the new World Freestyle Champion –and in the process has become Britain’s youngest-ever World Champion in any sport at just 14 years of age!
Lee has recently returned from America with the World Freestyle Jet-Ski title - and a World Championship trophy which is almost as tall as he is – won at the World Championships held in mid-October at Lake Havasu in Arizona.
He has broken every record in the book by becoming not only the youngest competitor, but also the youngest ever winner of the world title and Britain’s youngest-ever World Champion.
Furthermore, in order to qualify and achieve this amazing feat at such a tender age, Lee won ALL SIX rounds of the British Championship, and then ALL SIX rounds of the European Championship to gain entry for a shot at the world title in America!
The World Title is the crowning glory of an astonishing year of breathtaking success which has also seen the Wingerworth whizz-kid winning the Brazilian Expert title, and the Russian Open title, in which he beat 34 year-old eight-times world champion Mark Seckerling from Germany, in front of a crowd of fifty thousand spectators in Moscow.
He and his family have also been the priveleged guests of King Mohammed V1 of Morocco, and Lee has performed his world-beating daredevil freestyle routine `by royal appointment’ in front of the King at the Rabat Water Festival on two separate occasions on all expenses paid trips to the North African kingdom, staying at the Hilton Hotel in Rabat, complete with chauffeur and personal bodyguards!
Such is his standing and expertise in the sport that he has been contracted as a test-pilot by Japanese engineering giant, Yamaha, becoming a vital part of their technical development team, and every top name in the relatively new sport of Jet Ski-ing is currently clamouring to be associated with the new world champion and to cash-in on Lee’s phenomenal success.
This quietly spoken, modest and unassuming young man has set the world (and himself!) alight with his stunning two-minute trick and stunt routine, captured on film this summer by a Canadian Television Company who followed him around the European circuit.
At DisneyWorld, Paris, daredevil Lee wore a protective fire-suit, and thrilled spectators by flying upside down and performing a barrel-roll whilst completely engulfed in flames!
Prior to his world success Lee was featured as the star attraction on the front cover of the summer 2005 issue of the sport’s premier magazine `JetSkier’, which described his routine as, `a breathtaking demonstration of technique with huge aerial tricks`, and prophetically forecast that he was `touted by many around the world as a future world Champion’, and Lee is described as `the most exciting young talent in world feestyle’.
But it would seem that the old biblical adage about a prophet being `without honour in his own country’ is true in this case, for despite the fact that his face and fame are well known in America, Brazil, Russia, Morocco, Singapore, France, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland etc – Lee is little known in Britain.
“Funny really isn’t it? Lee is the world champion and yet he is far better known in Europe than he is in Wingerworth”, said his father, driver, manager, mentor and chief mechanic of Grass Roots Racing, Dave Stone at the family home at Barn Cottage on the Wingerworth Hall estate, near Chesterfield.
“We are so proud of Lee’s achievements; winning the world title at his age, competing against - and beating - men of far greater experience, twice as old and twice his size and strength, seems to have captured media attention the world over – everywhere in fact, except in his home country.”
It is very evident that this is a family affair, and that Lee’s supportive and enthusiastic family are the bedrock of his astonishing success, mum Marie, and ten-year-old sister, Rachel are Lee’s biggest fans. Rachel has designed and drawn the personalised design for the hull of her world-champion brother’s jet-ski - and already has her own Kowasaki 550cc jet-ski!
However, success and sacrifice seem to go hand in hand, and Dave and Marie who own and run a fitted kitchen business in Chesterfield, have delegated responsibility to management in order to facilitate their talented son’s chosen career and all the family play a vital role in his success.
For example, during the European Championships this year, the rolling Stone band-waggon - a seven and a half tonner which Dave converted into a motorhome and race transporter complete with mechanic’s workshop - travelled over fifty thousand miles with Dave at the wheel as Lee competed in ten Championship events in ten weeks in ten different countries!
Of course, such efforts deserve rich rewards, and whilst Lee won all the events and picked up the European Championship in the process, it proved to be at great financial cost to the management!
Lee is a genuine amateur sportsman who loves his sport, and his dedication and determination to succeed are evident; at twelve he was part of the Sheffield Wednesday Soccer Academy, but had been jet-skiing since he was just five years old and competing since the age of eleven.
He sat his competence certificate at twelve, the minimum legal age – when he was already British Junior Champion, and at thirteen he could strip and rebuild an engine!
Lee spent a year at Tupton Hall school, but owing to a strict training regime and hectic competition schedule he is now privately tutored at home, where he is currently studying for his GCSE exams.
He practices regularly at venues around the East Midlands, working on engine development with dad, Dave at Rother Valley Country Park, and spends three months a year training and honing his skills as factory rider with his partner and ex-world champion, Allessander Lenzi in Brazil.
Lenzi owns the Brazilian company who make the special carbon fibre racing hulls for Lee’s jet-ski and both Lee & Lenzi are sponsored by Yamaha Europe, who provide Lee with two customised jet-skis, clothing & equipment and even a hospitality suite at major competitions.
All competitions are on flat water and competitors have two minutes to impress judges, being marked on degree of difficulty, style, successful completion, and crowd appreciation.
Lee’s lightweight carbon-fibre hull weighs around 350 lbs and is powered by a 120hp 1000cc engine.
“The power to weight ratio allows an acceleration from 0 to 50mph in just two and a half seconds’, explained Lee enthusiastically, `faster than a Ferrari!’, and the secret, he says, is all about technique, `throttle and balance – and understanding the wake’, which he creates and then uses to send his jet-ski spiralling skyward…..!
Both Lenzi and Lee wear specially designed wet-suits, made and sponsored by Brazilian company, Mormai, and Boatworld supply Lee with boots and gloves, whilst Printability provide his promotional material, including posters for Lee to sign for his fans.
All played varied roles in his success at the world championships, “Especially JetShed of Beighton’, said Dave, ` who helped with mechanical repairs and worked late to get the Jet-Ski ready’.
But cost remains a major consideration, and although sponsorship and product endorsement help to ease the financial burden of competing on the world stage, the financial rewards are relatively small.
For example, as mum Marie pointed out:
“The winner’s cheque for the world title was $750, which, after tax became just over $500, and didn’t even begin to cover Lee’s expenses. Insurance cost is also a major consideration’, she admitted, `it is a dangerous sport, but Lee knows his limits”, she added confidently.
But the sky’s the limit for Lee in 2006 – and he is one rolling Stone who has no time for moss gathering, for Sky TV are scheduled to broadcast the British Jet-Ski Championships in spring, and amateur world champion Lee is launching his bid for the European Professional crown next summer!
He and the family also have a repeat invitation from their friend, the King of Morocco – and perhaps by the time they arrive in Rabat, Lee will himself have become King - of the World Professional Jet-Ski pilots!
Interested sponsors can follow Lee’s progress on his website at: www.lee-stone.com