Father Time has dished out some tough love to Hugo Schaw but the Hawke's Bay barefoot waterskier isn't about to curl into a ball of self-sympathy any time soon.
Instead Schaw is basing his preparation on the foundation of conditions, not opponents, as he psyches himself up as part of a seven-member New Zealand open team for the IWWF World Barefoot Waterski Championship to be staged at Napanee, Ontario, in Canada, from August 11-18.
"I'm kind of feeling a little under the pump this time because I'm probably a little bit behind from when I was competing two years ago just because I haven't had time," says the Central Hawke's Bay builder who has been based in Palmerston North since January this year.
However, Schaw jets off to Florida in the United States today for a 10-day training stint before the world championship. He still has high expectations to make the finals as well as smash the New Zealand record of 26.07m in the jump event.
Ben Groen, of Otaki, the son of Schaw's coach, Ron Groen, of Lake Inspiration, holds that honour.
"That's my most enjoyed and best event, pretty much," says Schaw, who defended his national men's open crown at the Piarere Waterski Club in Waikato in April.
Before the last world championship, the terror from Tikokino had based himself for two months in Florida to refine his skills.
"It was awesome hot conditions, black water so the perfect place," he says of the Winter Haven venue where he will spend time refining his systems and acclimatising to the northern hemisphere conditions.
The 20-year-old is going to use that time to address some of his flaws but also make the most of the fast Florida water with a fresh mind because the discipline demands more attention to technique.
Schaw is aiming for a finals berth in the jump event in the hope of making the top three where the 26m benchmark is the minimum point of entry.
"It's not a huge ask because I have to put in my best," says the former Lindisfarne College pupil.
No doubt, he expects Ben Groen to be adopting a mindset espousing similar values and goals.
"I haven't been jumping to the best of my ability in the last year so I'm hoping that with that time off I'll be able to refresh and start again," says Schaw, comfortable in the knowledge that his raw template will remain no matter how many times he reboots his system.
Riding the entire ramp on a 90-degree stance with the feet together, or slightly back on the top of the ramp, for that perfect position is his key challenge in the jump event.
"That makes or breaks your jump. You can tell then and there if it's going to be a good jump or not."
In slalom, the skiers have two passes of 15 seconds to cross the wake as many times as possible. They can cross the wake forwards or backwards and on two feet or one.
In tricks, the athletes have two passes of 15 seconds to complete as many different manoeuvres as possible. They have specific point values depending on the degree of difficulty. The waterskier also collects points for the start trick to become airborne.
In the jump, the skier travels over a small, fibreglass ramp. The longest successfully landed one counts from three attempts.
Schaw says it will cost him around $15,000 but he is indebted to his cluster of sponsors.
He will also compete in the slalom and tricks events but that will be with the sole intent of contributing to the New Zealand team's cause.
"I'm not expecting a huge amount from myself to make the finals in both those events but I'll just be trying to beat my personal best."
■ Open: Hugo Schaw, Georgia Groen, Ben Groen, Brooke Fitch, Mitch Groen, William Leigh, Bevan Kelly.
■ Senior: Fred Groen, Bevan Kelly, Rob Groen.
■ Juniors: William Leigh, Chad Scott, April Foster, Toby Kelly.
■ Independent: James Leen (open), Sarah Linton (open).