Neil Decker – Defending a World Title after 20 years in a sport
In November 2004, a 20 year veteran of waveski surfing won the open division of the World Waveski Titles. Neil Decker was the oldest person on record to win the open division. To this day, he attributes part of his success to the Australian team in Brazil. In July this year, at 40 years of age, Neil will be defending his title in the midst of top waveski surfers from France, South Africa, Brazil and the UK. Recently we caught up with Neil to find out about developments in the sport over the last 20 years and what it will be like defending his title.
Neil started waveski surfing in 1983. Along with being a regular competitor, he has been closely involved with organizing numerous small and major events, shaped and manufactured waveski’s for 22 years and has probably made around 2500 waveski’s.
Over the years Neil has surfed with a number of teams and a lot of remarkable surfers. He recalls his time on the Raider team as an amazing experience. “There were Raider hats; Raider jerseys and Raider shorts and you would get money from Raider if you won a contest.”
He also recalls some of the most memorable surfers. “No one has ever come close to John Christensen as a surfer. He is by far the best that you will ever see and has an amazing style where he could do anything he wanted to. Rees Duncan is probably the second best and has aggression and ability to pull aerials wherever he wants but with power in little stuff or big stuff. Nicki Carsten would have to be third best because he added a dimension to waveski surfing that no one else has been capable of”. Neil also points out that he wouldn’t put himself in that same category. Humbly, he feels he’s just been lucky to be a good competitor. Whereas those guys are good competitors and great surfers
When asked about the standard of waveski surfing since the 80’s, he feels that it has hardly changed. Although you now see strengths have grown in countries like France, Brazil, South Africa and the UK and these countries have more depth in their rider’s abilities.
Neil Decker has also been experimenting with tow-in waveski surfing. Coming from a background in motor cross riding, he is a big fan of jet skis and is crazily keen to tow into some big 50ft waves. The equipment is being developed and he is researching waveski shapes with the tow-in surfboard shapers, so watch this space.
After 20 years of selling waveski’s, Dekka Waveski’s has also gone through some developments with a new website and computer shaping. If anything, he complains that the website is causing a few problems with too many orders. The computer shaping helps produce consistent shapes that are hard to achieve with hand shaping. It’s also meant to help save his shoulder from a reconstruction after shaping for so many years. But now he has a real job at Riviera
along side two other past world waveski champions, Darren Kearns and Dave Dinning. Neil reflects on Riviera giving him stability which contributed to winning the world titles in Brazil.
In relation to the state of the sport in Australia, he’s pretty happy that numbers are up and the growth of the sport is on a positive upward slant….what else would you expect from someone committed to a sport for so many years. Does he have an answer for the future of the sport? Well Neil has lots of ideas and vision and if only we all possessed as much motivation and unlimited energy. However one key point continues to hit home, he feels that we need to look at new ways of doing things and communicate heaps better rather than get caught up in the minor details.
Despite winning the 2004 World Title and 1994 World Cup Title, one of the most frustrating things in his competition years is after making seven finals; he is yet to win an Australian Title. The Australian Titles is one of the best and hardest contests to win. On the other hand, it’s now also hard to win when you travel, particularly with the added depth of surfers overseas.
Winning in Brazil was a special event. He recalls Brazil being an amazing place, a catalyst to losing focus. It took the pressure off and in the end he just went surfing. So how does he think he’ll go in the World titles? “I’m going to South Africa to get myself to the level that when I get out of the water I feel happy and whatever happens from there, happens.”
Neil Decker, Uluwatu April 2006