A FIFTEEN-year-old wakeboarder has secured the prestigious title of Open Men's' European Champion 2001.

For three years, Robert Moyle, a Lowton High School pupil, has been practising the extreme sport, which is similar to snow-boarding and skate-boarding, but done on the water, while being towed by a speed boat.

He started by water-skiing at on Lake Windermere, then used birthday money to buy world champion wakeboarder Thomas Harrel's board, and continued from there.

Robert, of Selwyn Street, Leigh, has won all but two competitions entered this season, and came second in those.

He gained the title of Junior British National Champion 2001 last weekend, but his proudest moment was winning all three legs of the European tour outright.

The tour, which consisted of three heats in Belgium, Holland and Thorpe, took place on July 28 and 29, August 4, 5, 11 and 12, and was attended by riders from all over Europe.

Robert's mum, Suzanne, said: "He slipped and fractured his ankle after the Belgium competition, but his dad removed the plaster and he rode the Holland and Thorpe legs anyway. He amazed us by coming first in all three, even with an injury."

At 6ft 3in, Robert sees his height as a detriment because he is unable to do as many tricks in a short area, and has to be more precise. He puts his constant success down to his lack of fear and open-minded imagination.

He said: "I don't plan my routines like most, I never know what I'm going to do before I got out there. I just go wakeboarding and do whatever feels right."

Robert receives sponsorship from various companies, including his club, Pine Lake Watersports and Aquatic Sports, Windermere. He is also the only British rider to be sponsored by American clothing company, Fox International.

At only 15, Robert cannot ride professionally until next year, when he hopes to continue his success.

The nature of the sport means it is restricted to the summer season in Britain, but Robert hopes to make wakeboarding his future and plans to move to America, where the sport originates from, to work year-round as a coach.

Suzanne describes wakeboarding as a family sport, that anyone can learn.

She said: "We are very involved in Robert's progress, I try to learn the names of the moves, but he progresses faster than I can learn! Wakeboarding is simple pick up, all you need is a good sense of balance, the courage to try new moves and a good instructor." HIGH FLIER: Robert Moyle struts his stuff and, top, Robert with his wakeboard