Wrenny’s Wrants Volume 1

I’d like to welcome A Louder Blog’s first ever guest blogger…Nick Wrenn. Wrenny will be involved in the regular piece on this blog called ‘Wrenny’s Wrants’. Nick will have a rant (or wrant as I’ve called it…who doesn’t love alliteration) and I will have my rebuttal after his rant. So I get the final say (because it’s my blog so I only see that as being fair).

Me and Wrenny - Co-captains of the Australian Team for the Aussie-Kiwi Challenge 2013

Me and Wrenny – Co-captains of the Australian Team for the Aussie-Kiwi Challenge 2013

This week, while it will be foreign to non-water skiers, we tackle the issue of the ultimate team prize for Australian water skiing. The Beynon Shield.

The Wrant…by Nick Wrenn

In any sport one of the biggest greatest achievements for an athlete at a national level is to represent their state. Why? Mainly because it is a sign that they are recognised as the best in the sport, and are rewarded for their achievements by giving them the opportunity to represent their state at a higher level. However, for some reason water-skiing in Australia does not have the same system.

Technically, anyone who skis in the national championships is in their “state-team”. They are already representing their state. I believe however, that to be selected to represent your state in the Beynon Shield competition, should be of the highest privilege and should be reserved for the best skiers in that state, based on their raw scores.

Instead, our Beynon Shield is a competition whereby people are chosen strategically by their state depending on how well they ski in their respective age division. This leaves out the best skiers in the state who may be Open rated, but no-where near the record for that division. This means that a boy in u/14’s who is jumping 30 metres has more chance of getting in their team than an open rated skier jumping 50 metres. I don’t believe that this is fair.

Let’s face it, whoever wins this trophy has the bragging rights as the “best state” in tournament waterskiing. But how can that be true when the scores don’t even come from the best skiers? It just doesn’t make sense.

My solution is a simple one; you pick a team of 4 (or 6) skiers, the same way you would pick your World Championship teams. This would allow a state to include the best slalom, trick and jump male and female skiers of that state, based solely on scores, not age division records. All the people in a “state team” will have their scores pooled into a separate competition, and the overall scores derived from that competition are attributed towards the team score. Slalom scores will need to be adjusted due to varying maximum speeds, which can be solved by deducting 6 buoys for every 3kph difference.

Out of the 200 competitors at last year’s Nationals, I challenge you to find 100 that know the rules of the Beynon Shield, and if they know who is in their own team. The significance of this competition has dwindled ever since I entered the sport, due to its complex rules and varying representation. It’s time to re-vamp the competition and make it a true representation of who actually is the best state in the country. Because at the end of the day, if you truly want to be known as the best state in Australian waterskiing, wouldn’t you want to do so with the best skiers you have?

The Beynon Shield

The Beynon Shield

The Rebuttal…by Joshua Louder

Wrenny does raise some valid points, especially about not many people knowing how the Beynon Shield scoring system works. But am I detecting a little jealously in Wrenny’s Wrant? Just because his home state (Western Australia) haven’t won the Beynon Shield since outboards were used at Nationals doesn’t mean he can criticise the Beynon Shield scoring system.

The scoring system for the Beynon Shield as it stands is to make sure a wide range of different people from different age groups feel included. If we change the Beynon Shield scoring to just count the best skiers we would be moving back to a more elitist system…which is like any other record capable or professional tournament.

I think the real answer here is to actually promote the Beynon Shield competition a bit better. Make sure everyone in the water ski community knows how the Beynon Shield scoring system works. So essentially it is the responsibility of the media team at Tournament Water Ski Australia to dissipate that information to the masses…and yes that’s me.

Ok well here is the Beynon Shield scoring system as it stands straight from the rulebook…

A4.01: Team Selection:

Each State that is affiliated to the AWWF shall have the right to enter a team of skiers, made up of all state skiers who are rated to ski, to represent their State at the National Championships. The Scoring team of 7 skiers shall be nominated to the Chief

Calculator before the commencement of the competition.

As per AWWF TWSA Tournament Rules 10 Oct 2010

A5.05: Team Scoring:

Team scoring – The best three (3) overall scores for each scoring team in each event shall be added together to determine the team score. These scores will be calculated basing the 1000 points on the Division Australian Record as at 31st January of the current season or the

event score from the Nationals, whichever is higher will be used for the 1000 points. In the case of a tie between teams the fourth jump score shall be used, then the fifth and so on until the tie is broken.

Even though New South Wales has won the Beynon Shield for almost a decade, the competition has been as close as ever. The fight for the Beynon Shield next year is set to be the toughest yet.


Bronzed Aussie

Before they could start the finals of the World +35 Water Ski Championships there was still one more preliminary round that was pushed back, day after day. It was the over 35 women slalom with Australia’s own Mel Collins.

Sunrise at Boca Laguna

The early bird gets the worm – beautiful Mexican sunrise over Boca Laguna

‘The early bird gets the worm’ beautiful Mexican sunrise over Boca Laguna

Water skiing is a tough sport and the slalom discipline is the most cut throat, hands down. It was Mel Collins who joined the list of Aussie to fail on their first pass after an unorthodox edge change caused her to ski inside the 3rd buoy.

Lee Martin picked up the mood in the Aussie camp with a beautiful rendition of Air Supply’s ‘Lost in Love’ which he sung to the event commentator, Tony Lightfoot.

Tony Lightfoot

Tony Lightfoot donning the green and gold while enjoying the Aussie’s antics

Sue Crisp was the first Australian on the water in the finals, tricking in the over 55 women. First off the dock Crisp improved on her score from the preliminary rounds, scoring 1010, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to get her a place on the podium. Crisp ended up with a 4th and was subject to a drug test. As with most sports once you reach the highest standard, doping control will be there in ensure no one has an unfair advantage. We are blessed that tournament water skiing has a clean slate in terms of drug testing, not one athlete has tested positive since the start of testing decades ago.

I went down to the dock during the jump finals and you could feel the nervous energy in the air. It is well noted that a World Championships is the toughest event for athletes to ski at because you’re not just skiing for yourself, you’re skiing for your country.

Mark Louder broke the Australian record in the preliminary round and was 3rd seed going into the final for over 55 men jump. Louder jumped an easy 38.3 metres on his second jump but he knew the two guys left on the dock could beat that easy. He brought everything down 5 metres later and only just made it onto the ramp but this jump was well over 40 metres, unfortunately Louder got tangled up on the landing and couldn’t ski it away. This gave him a bronze medal, which is the first medal any Australian has ever got at a +35 World Championships. Louder also came 7th in over 55 men overall.

The first Australian medal at a +35 World Championship – Mark Louder bronze +55 men jump

“The view is amazing from 3rd place, I can’t begin to imagine how good it looks from the top.” – Mark Louder after coming down from the podium

Graham Ashcroft was also coming off breaking an Aussie record in the preliminary round of the over 45 men jump. Ashcroft looked as if he peaked too early jumping a couple metres less than the first round, 40.7 metres. This gave Ashcroft 7th in jump and 11th overall.

‘Ashy’ warming up before the jump final

Our last team member to skiing at the competition was Sue Crisp in over 55 women slalom. Her score of 2@14.25m gave her 4th.

Thanks to the major sponsor of the event, Herradura Tequila was flowing freely all afternoon and all Sunday. Australia came 5th overall, the best placing by an Australian team at a +35 World Championships.

While one half of the team ventured home after the banquet night, the other half ventured an hour and a half north of Chapala to a little town called Tequila. We had a free tequila tasting and lunch at the Herradura Tequila factory and distillery. It wasn’t a small operation either as they make 60 000 litres of tequila daily!

Let the tasting begin!

On behalf of the Australian Team I would like to thank the Lamadrid family for being so hospitable and being great hosts of the events, the Mexican Water Ski Federation for organising this Championships, all the sponsors for making this Worlds possible and too all the Mexican taxi drivers and waiters for putting up with our terrible Spanish.

Back home I would like to thank the Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (AWWF), Tournament Water Ski Australian (TWSA) and the Australian Government’s Sport Commission for all your support.

Australia – 5th overall

11 Aussies go to Mexico

Two years ago at the inaugural +35 World Water Ski Championships in Italy, Australia had a team of one (Mark Louder). This year eleven Australians have made the trip across the Pacific to Mexico and together they are the biggest Australian team ever to go to a World Championships.

Setting up for the day

I gathered Mexico doesn’t get too many Australian tourists after one of the staff of Boca Laguna (ski lake in Chapala) asked if a yellow/green/red flag was the Australian flag…it was the Lithuanian flag. After than slight misjudgement we let them know who we were chanting and singing during the opening ceremony march, even Maria Lamadrid (owner of Boca Laguna) joined in.

Carlos Lamadrid, (the owner of the site) who we already struck up a rapport with, commented on the Australian spirit and said we are a great bunch of people before he starting chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi” in his official opening speech.

“We will all enjoy many tequilas after the tournament.” – Carlos Lamadrid

Australian and Chief Boat Driver, Glen Martin, said the ‘ode to judges’ and that concluded the opening ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony +35 Worlds 2012

Earlier in the morning our first Australian on the water was Graham Ashcroft. He injured his groin in a jump crash during familiarisation earlier in the week so elected to do two hand passes. This gave him a score of 820 which put him in 15th place in over 45 men trick.

Sue Crisp was next in the afternoon and had the added pressure needing a good score for  the Australian Team overall. In a light tail wind she got 2.5@14.25m which put her in 4th place in over 55 women slalom. More importantly this puts her in the final which will be run on the weekend!

In the over 55 men slalom, Team Captain Mark Louder scored a respectable 0.5@14.25m putting him in =22nd and more importantly giving him a good overall score. Garry Underwood skied a personal best of 4.5@14.25m which placed him at 20th. The excitement didn’t stop there in the over 55 men slalom. Dee Johnson USA and Philip Hughes UK were fighting for one spot in the final after both scoring 3@12m. A run-off followed at 13m and with the crowd on their feet Johnson went first. He came into the first buoy a little off balance and laid-it-out, this obviously made it easier for Hughes and he skied 2 buoys to advance to the finals but it was an exciting end to the day none the less.

During the day ‘Jesse’ our boxing Kangaroo and team mascot was the subject of many photos from rival nations.

“All we got is Captain America, but you have a boxing kangaroo that’s way better!” – Anonymous US Team Member

Jesse the boxing kangaroo

‘Jesse’ – the most popular mascot down at the site

Tomorrow morning (Thursday – Mexican, early Friday morning AEDT) we have Sue Crisp tricking in the over 55 women, followed by Marty Ayles and Darryl Shorten tricking in the over 35 men. Later in the afternoon Mark Louder will be pushing for a finals berth in the over 55 men jump. The final event for the day and by far the biggest with 31 skiers will be the over 45 men slalom. Greg Dalgarno, Graham Ashcroft, Neil O’Toole and Lee Martin will be doing Australia proud in that.

Team Australia

For more updates keep checking out this blog or…

Like https://www.facebook.com/AustralianTeamWorldsOver35WaterSki2012 or…

Follow @NSWTWS or @JoshuaLouder on Twitter or…

Check out the webcast on http://www.waterskibroadcasting.com/ or…

Check out the preview of the Australian Team http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjOyVvE2-cQ

Or if you just want the full results you can find them here: http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/classic/12IWWF35/

The Price of Gold

Do you think $588 million for seven gold medals at the London Olympics is money well spend? We also won sixteen silver and twelve bronze medals, so with the 35 medals Australia won that acquaints to just over $16.5 million a medal. The Australian Government have entrenched in their sport policies that the Olympics is the be-all and end-all in sport. This means non-Olympic sports are left out in the cold, with the exception of Cricket, Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Rugby Union who each have large television and sponsorship deals. One sport that is severely underfunded is water skiing.

There are 9 competitive sports under the branch of water skiing. These include:

  • Tournament Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Barefooting
  • Wakeskating
  • Ski Racing
  • Cable Tournament Water Skiing
  • Cable Wakeboarding
  • Kneeboarding
  • Show Skiing

ImageCrowds haven’t been an issue at the Moomba Masters in Melbourne. Photo: IWSF

Think of water skiing like athletics in the way athletics has many different disciplines under the term ‘athletics’. Although all these sports are governed by the same body in Australia, The Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (AWWF), each discipline is a different sport in its self. For example in Tournament Water Skiing there are three disciplines (slalom, trick and jump), this is substantially different to Ski Racing which is more of a hybrid between an athletic sport and a motor sport.

The sport I’m going to focus on, and one of the most popular, is tournament water skiing. In Australia Tournament Water Ski Nationals are hosted on a yearly basis along with Disabled Tournament Water Ski Nationals. For the past few years there has been over 200 athletes competing from all states and territories across Australia at this five day competition.

The Future of Sport in Australia, aka The Crawford Report, was released in 2009 by the Independent Sports Panel set up by the government. The purpose of this was to “review all aspects of sport in Australia and to chart a new direction.” It was also in response to John Coates (AOC Chief) requesting an extra $100 million a year for 10 years for elite Olympic sports. I can understand where Coates is coming from as he has witnessed firsthand the slide from 58 medals in Sydney 2000 to 49 medals in Athens 2004 to 46 medals in Beijing 2008 and now 35 medals in London 2012. To give $1 billion to elite athletes while the 9 sports of water skiing share $161,000 a year, would highlight the massive inequalities evident in sport funding in Australia.

ImageNo surprises there! John Coates has strongly rejected funding cuts from the elite program over the past few years. Photo: Herald Sun

While the AWWF was included in the research process of The Crawford Report, the findings are only recommendations. Many of these recommendations are still yet to be adopted by the government.

As Tournament Water Skiing grows stronger the screams for more funding will get louder and louder but these screams may be drowned out by the bellowing yell of a declining Olympic team begging for more money.

The Crawford Report –