Women's Sport: Lucy Gadsby has almost won all there is to win in competitive jet skiing - and she's only 15

Lucy Gadsby

The world of competitive jet skiing is one that doesn't often receive much attention from the outside.

However, it's time to start making noise over one competitor who has been blowing the majority of her competition out of the water since she was just nine years old. 

Lucy Gadbsy, now 15, first 'had a go' at jet skiing on a family holiday in Wales, and has never looked back.

"I probably first got on a jet ski in 2013, but then only started racing in 2015," Lucy tells me.

"We had a caravan in Wales and people said ‘you may as well [buy a jet ski] because you're near the sea’ - and one day I just got on it and started riding."

"We had been to watch a few of our friends at the lake in their races, so I knew competing was a thing. When we came down to our local lake, one of the racers dads pointed out that I could do alright in the championship," the fifteen-year-old explains.

2020 marks Lucy's sixth year of competitive racing. She began her career competing in the junior classes, but quickly proved her talent and is now constantly competing, and coming out on top, against adults double her age.

"My first competitive win was during my second year of racing and was at the British Racing winter series.

"It was amazing because I had come from the year before, being about fifth, and then this season I had a dead engine start but in the very last lap I got into first [position] and won," says the World Champion.

"In Britain, there are no girls that race"

"Competing against adults is good because they’ve had a lot more experience which helps me [improve]. Then, when I [compete] in the junior classes, it helps because the juniors are learning from me."

Lucy continues, "it’s also pretty good to know I’m beating people older than me."

Last year, Lucy set the record to become the youngest woman to ever win the Women's World Title. Although she enjoys being the best in the business, she's also aware of the lack of women in jet skiing.

"In Britain, there are no girls that race."

"I’m the only girl that has raced [in the] junior [class]. There’s one other adult woman that races against me [in Britain] and when I go to Europe, everyone is over the age of 18," Lucy explains.

"When I go to races, [other competitors] don’t expect a girl of my age, being only 15, to be able to do as well as I can and beat people probably twice my age." 

Becoming a top-performing World Champion hasn't been easy at such a young age, providing its own mental setbacks along the way.

"I’ve had some mental blocks towards [competing], struggling with motivation and my confidence going into races.

"In Belgium, I was in the adult class even though juniors weren't allowed to go into the adult class - I was targeted and wasn’t one of the favourite riders because of that, and ended up getting into a few classes which put me at a setback because I was worried to go to the other races," the 15-year-old explains.

"I won - and that made me the best woman racer in the world"

Luckily, Lucy manages to juggle training and competing alongside education with the help of her school in Wigan.

"When I race away, school give me time off and then give me help when I get back to school. School give me loads of publicity on the school website - they’re really supportive of me."

Late last year, Lucy travelled to Thailand to compete in the Kings Cup - a jet ski competition so well respected in Southeast Asia that the King of Thailand is on hand to congratulate and award winners.

"My race to remember so far is probably Thailand. I did my Moto1 first race, had a massive off and ended up coming thirteenth, but then I had two more motors which I won. I ended up winning by one point which made me the best woman racer in the world in 'stand-up', and then the Triple Crown Winner which is one of the biggest achievements a girl could probably get," Lucy proudly tells me.

To date, Lucy is a nine-time British Champion, three-time European and two-time World. Alongside, she's also the Kings Cup Champion, Triple Crown Champion and the junior Belgian Champion.

Despite the long list of accolades, the fifteen-year-old is far too humble and not yet satisfied.

"I’ve won the biggest races for a woman in the world and have done what not many people thought I could do in my first year,"

she says nonchalantly. 

"I’ve not won a Belgium title yet, apart from in juniors, so I’m looking forward to trying to gain an adult title in Belgium although it’s not a title that people look at and are amazed by. It’d be good to defend my World title and my Kings Cup title again."

She goes onto tell me why she thinks her work isn't well recognised.

"People don’t know what I’ve done, and I think that’s because there are other women who compete in other championships and they have won more titles and have been around a lot longer [than me], so they’ve been recognised but I’ve only just got started. The sport, in general, isn’t publicised enough, there isn’t a highly paid job or anything, you can’t be fully committed so that’s why not many people will know about it."

Lucy doesn't lack awareness and already knows that a sustainable career as a female jet ski racer might not be doable. Despite her age, she already has a brief career plan in place.

"As a job, it can only take you to a certain level if you’re not either running a business in it or multi-time champion in it. [Working in jet skiing] is something to think of, perhaps building something alongside it. I’ve thought about starting up a business or starting to work for someone to build my brand and have something to do with [jet skiing], but I’m still not 100% yet," she tells. 

Lucy's competitiveness is second-to-none and having already won the World's twice, the fifteen-year-old seems to be on a clear road to jet ski glory.

Although most people would be apprehensive before jumping on a jet-ski, Lucy describes racing as her comfort zone. 

"My favourite thing is the adrenaline. I’ve been doing it for six years this year - it’s just the one thing that makes me happy and lets me escape from anything that makes me upset or am worried about. It’s my comfort zone that makes me happy," she gushes.

"Girls are definitely underestimated"

Lucy has her own goals to conquer this year, and she's also challenging the media to do better and help cover her beloved sport.

"This year I want to make my team happy with the achievements that I’ll hopefully get this year, and I also want to defend the four main titles that I won in 2019 to try and get myself out there more. 

"I want Britain to publicise [jet skiing] a lot more because it’s such a small community of races which rely on us as racers to get more people interested when it should be [the competitions] publicising themselves. The bigger competitions like the World’s, Europe and Thailand, they advertise themselves a lot more and so many people turn up to watch," Lucy explains.

Whilst getting to know Lucy, she has stressed the importance of women in sport and women in jetskiing. The fifteen-year-old has an appetite to prove her doubters, many of them male, completely wrong. She's defying age, gender, stereotype and calling upon other young girls to follow in her footsteps.

"Give [an adrenaline sport] a go because girls are definitely underestimated, and they shouldn’t be because we’re just as capable as boys to do anything.

"Put yourself out there and do what you want to do – what you love."

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