THE Hong Kong Water Ski Association (HKWSA) is in a dilemma. While the territory used to be a powerhouse in Asian water skiing circles during the 1970s and early 1980s, the Association's profile and competitiveness have dropped considerably in recent years due to lack of a proper permanent course. Territory skiers were so good at the time, they set up demonstrations to introduce the sport to the Chinese. And like all other sports, China is now a much stronger water skiing nation than Hong Kong. The decline of territory skiers started when the association lost its training site at the West Sea Coffer Dam, High Island, during the early 1980s. Since then local skiers have had to ski on rough ocean waters, not the most ideal conditions in which to train. 'Ideally, you would want to train on a fresh water lake with a glass-like surface,' said Chris Howarth, chairman of the HKWSA. 'Training on the ocean is always an adventurous experience because you never know what the conditions are going to be. Try slaloming [zig-zagging with one ski] on the ocean - even a small ripple in the water can send you flying, so it can be very dangerous.' Howarth said the best solution to the association's problems would be to build a permanent training facility at the West Sea Coffer Dam. With Hong Kong's two premier water skiing events just past - the Hong Kong National Water Ski Tournament and the Hong Kong Open Water Ski Championships - Howarth said the association will send five skiers to the upcoming world championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 2-6. In the past, Hong Kong teams were always competitive at the 30-nation event dominated by American, Australian and Canadian skiers, but in recent years have been relegated to 'just competed' status. A permanent facility Howarth said would be the key to restoring the territory's status as a serious competitive skiing force. Water skiing in Hong Kong first became popular in the 1950s under the direction of ski enthusiast Mr Chow who formed the Hong Kong Motor Boat and Ski Club. After a variety of name changes, the HKWSA was born in 1977. Today, the club has grown to 60 active members with another 200 members on their mailing list. Unlike many clubs, the HKWSA is very inexpensive to join at $300 with yearly dues of $500. Even if you have never water skied before, the association has many training programmes for beginners. Howarth said with only 30 per cent of their membership being Chinese, he would like to see more locals join the HKWSA for it is a sport that everyone of reasonable fitness can enjoy. 'I can only describe it as completely exhilarating. There is nothing like being pulled up by the power of the boat and skimming along the water at a top speed. You can feel every muscle in your body working and it's a great feeling - a total workout,' he said.