Day 1 of the 2014 Australian Water Ski National Titles

Close to 200 athletes made tracks to Darwin for the 2014 Mastercraft Australian Water Ski Nationals. It’s the first time the Northern Territory has ever hosted the Nationals and although the site is isolated from a majority of the population, the numbers haven’t shown it.

The jump and trick lake of Berry Springs

The jump and trick lake of Berry Springs

It’s actually quite refreshing to have the Nationals at a new site and it is a testament that our sport knows no boundaries. It shows that tournament water skiing is truly an Australia wide sport.

Full credit to Craig Mclew and the Victorian team for organising these Nationals. The 2 lake site is at Berry Springs which is about 40 kilometres south of Darwin. It truly is an amazing site, hardly affected by wind, little to no problems with backwash and the water is unbelievably warm…even in the middle of Autumn!

The grandstand at Berry Springs

The grandstand at Berry Springs

In the first day we saw a handful of records broken.

The disabled Nationals are being run in conjunction with this tournament. Today we saw 3 records broken! The scores aren’t published yet but it’s great to see water skiing in Australia advancing in all disciplines.

Briana McGrady has a pending Australian record under her name. She booted a 32.4 metre jump to take control of the under 14 girls jump event and set a pending record. Briana was actually co-record holder before with Vennesa Leopold. They held the record with a 32.3 metre leap.

In the testosterone filled under 17 boys jump division it was the South Australian Josh Wallent who made his mark with the biggest jump of the tournament. Josh passed up his first 2 jumps which meant it was all or nothing on his final jump. He left his turn later than anyone else (well actually Archie Davis might have turned a little later) and had a strong cut into the ramp, booting a 51.9 metre monster. He didn’t break the Aussie record but he bettered his own state record.

Pistol Pete Cornale is breaking more records than I’ve had hot dinners. Pistol dominated in the over 35 mens slalom round running the tough 11.25 metre line and almost running 10.75 metre line! He scored 5@10.75m which is an Australian pending over 35 mens slalom record.

The over 45 mens slalom event is always interesting and is traditionally is the most competitive. Barry Mason put out the score of 2@11.25m for John Adams to beat, but Adams was chasing something else. The Victorian was after the Aussie record. He came up a little short with 4@11.25m but with another round in a couple of days this record is seriously under threat. Even if Adams doesn’t break the record it’s exciting to watch the competition between him and Mason who have been going tit for tat the last few tournaments.

I’ve got to mention 3 boys in the under 14 boys jump event. Jack Christie, Ethan McKinnon and Kurtis Beare. Kurtis is in 3rd spot with a jump of 27.6 metres…which is a personal best by over 2 metres. Ethan is a 2nd spot with 28.9 metres…a PB by close to 3 metres. Jack is leading with a leap of 33.3 metres…a 3 metre PB.

It’s great to see so many good scores, especially jump score after the first day. Let’s hope it’s just a taste of things to come and with 4 days left we are in for a treat.


Our Slice of $120 Million

Last week the Australian Sport Commission (ASC) announced its funding allocation for 2013-2014. A large majority of this funding is for sports to deliver on the ‘Winning Edge’ high performance targets. Those targets include:

  • Australia finishing in the top 5 in the Olympics and Paralympics
  • Australia finishing in the top 15 in the Winter Olympics
  • Australia finishing 1st in the Commonwealth Games
  • A total of 20 World Champions every year

The Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (AWWF) were allocated $161 000 from the Australian Sports Commission for 2013-2014, this is the same investment allocation the AWWF has gotten for the last 4 years.

I asked CEO of the AWWF, Gary Humphrey, how many divisions this is shared amongst. “It is shared across tournament, barefoot, wakeboard, ski race and we support show ski and cable from general revenue.”

“In essence Tournament Water Ski Australia (TWSA) gets $12 500 for each team heading to a Junior World Championships and Open World Championships and approximately $8 000 – $9 000 per annum for team training. That is around $20 000 per year.”

That means Australian teams going to high class international tournaments such as:

  • Under 21 World Championships
  • Over 35 World Championships
  • Asian-Australiasian & Oceanian Championships (AAO Championships)
  • Annual Aussie/Kiwi Water Ski Challenge

receive little to no money from the ASC.

Tournament water skiing has been a major contributor to the ASC reaching those ‘Winning Edge’ targets with Timothy Bradstreet being crowned Under 21 Mens Overall Champion and Under 21 Mens Jump Champion. Jacinta Carroll being crowned Under 21 Ladies Jump Champion. Not to mention how many AAO Championships and Aussie/Kiwi challenges Australia has won in the last five years. It’s a shame these teams miss out on a large amount of funding from the ASC.


Australia’s Under 21 Team 2011. The team has three world champions in it – Jacinta Carroll, Timothy Bradstreet and Joshua Briant. Photo: Nicholas Wrenn

The AWWF only get that grant to go towards the high performance program. They miss out on the additional grant to go towards participation due to their “ability to get big numbers after school is very limited.” Humphrey said. “However we will keep trying.” Only six of the fifty-six ASC funded sporting federations don’t receive participation funding, the AWWF is one of them.

It was widely reported that swimming and athletics were paying for the poor performances at the last Olympics by having their Australian Sports Commission funding cut. What didn’t make the headlines were the sports that received significant funding cuts due to the prospect of not being in the Rio Olympics, they included Baseball and Softball. There funding was cut by 37.3% and 33.1% respectively but they still receive well over $1 million of funding for 2013-2014. This goes to show the ASC’s focus on Olympic sports.

Swimming Australia’s funding was cut to $8.1 million which is a 5.8 per cent drop due to their worst performance at an Olympics in 20 years. While Sailing received a 16.7 per cent increase to $6.3 million after being the best performing Australian team in London. AWWF hasn’t seen a boost in funding even after better performances at international events and more world champions in the last three years.

ASC chairman John Wylie said he had spoken to Australian sports officials before the announcement.

“The reaction wasn’t necessarily bursting with enthusiasm, but they do understand the reason why these decisions have been made,” he said.

“Sports understand in tough economic times that… the answer cannot be just to stick the hand out and ask the Government for more money every year.”


ASC chairman John Wylie announcing the new funding allocation last week. Photo: The Queensland Times

I reluctantly agree with Mr Wylie, although I would like to see water skiing and wakeboarding receive funding that is proportionate to other similar sports. At the moment sports such as Tenpin Bowling, Table Tennis and Orienteering receive more funding from the ASC.


The biggest Australian water skiing team ever to go overseas received less than $200 per person. Photo: Joshua Louder

Australia’s performances at the last four World Championships

(Tournament Water Skiing)

Australia came 2nd overall at the 2012 Junior World Championships (same as 2010)

  • Joshua Briant Boys Overall Champion, Boys Trick Champion.
  • Stephanie Griffiths 2nd Girls Jump.

Australia came 5th overall at the 2012 Over 35 World Championships (twenty-five places better than 2010)

  • Mark Louder 2nd Over 55 Mens Jump.

Australia came 4th overall at the 2011 Water Ski World Championships (three places better than 2009)

  • Ryan Green 3rd Mens Overall
  • Timothy Bradstreet 2nd Mens Jump
  • Jacinta Carroll 2nd Ladies jump
  • Karina Nowlan 5th Ladies slalom.

Australia came 3rd overall at the 2011 Under 21 Water Ski World Championships (one place better than 2009)

  • Timothy Bradstreet Under 21 Mens Overall Champion, Under 21 Mens Jump Champion
  • Jacinta Carroll Under 21 Ladies Jump Champion, 2nd Under 21 Ladies Overall

Australia’s Winning Edge Investment Allocation Document

2013 Junior Moomba Masters Day 2

Joshua Briant and Erika Lang are Junior Moomba Champions

It was the two reining junior world overall champions who dominated Junior Moomba from start to finish. The American Erika Lang took out every event she skied in today winning girls trick and jump quite comfortably. The local hero Joshua Briant took out boys tricks easily and won the gold in boys jump after some tough competition from Taylor Garcia.

Joshua Briant getting hold of a 55.3m jump unfortunately for him it was a fast time but nevertheless still took out boys jump

Joshua Briant getting hold of a 55.3m jump unfortunately for him it was a fast time but nevertheless still took out boys jump

Lang tricked 8990 again in the 2nd round to take out the event by more than 7000 points combined. While the battle for the next two places were a lot closer with Kara Macintyre tricking 5050 which put her in 3rd place and Bianca Mulach scoring 5240 which gave her the silver medal.

It was much the same in the boys tricks with junior trick world champion Briant winning by over 6000 points combined tricking 9950 in the 2nd round. Aussie Tyce Zendler stood up his hand run to grab 2nd place (5230) while Taylor Garcia couldn’t match his first round score tricking 4380 giving him the bronze medal.

The favourite from the United States, Dane Mechler, lead from start to finish needing 1@11.25m in the 2nd round to take the win from South African Eamon Van Der Merwe who scored 2@11.25m again. Winning his first medal at a Junior Moomba was Craig Jeude who got the equal highest score in the 2nd round (2@11.25m) to get on the podium.

South African Eamon Van Der Merwe consistent skiing running 2@11.25m both rounds

South African Eamon Van Der Merwe consistent skiing running 2@11.25m both rounds

With 4 rounds of jump being run today it was always going to be tough to get through everyone in the time allocated. Congratuations to the rowers who didn’t damage the jump ramp overnight (obviously went to Specsavers). Due to the time restraints for the 2nd round of jump instead of dropping down the city end in between jumps they were spinning. This made conditions a little bit rollie but luckily it was low tide so it could have been much worse.

Erika Lang took the girl jump crown with a 36.5m in the 1st round and a 35.1m in the 2nd round. Aussie girl Teagan Burns took home silver with a best jump of 34.1m and American Kara Macintyre snatched 3rd place from Anthea Collicoat with a best jump of 30.1m.

Erika Lang with a leap of 36.5m takes out the girls jump event

Erika Lang with a leap of 36.5m takes out the girls jump event

There was just over one metre separating 1st from 3rd in the boys jump event. Briant was leading after the 1st round with a 50.6m leap but in the 2nd round Taylor Garcia got hold of a 52.9m jump which put the pressure on Kiwi Alex King and Briant. King fell short by 10cm jumping 51.2m to take 3rd while Briant took the win with a 52.0m pearler.

Lang almost scored the perfect overall score (2975) but this was more than enough to make her the Queen of the Junior Moomba Masters ahead of Kara Macintyre and Teagan Burns. Briant wasn’t too far off the perfect overall score either (2972.64) and he will be crowned King of Junior Moomba during the junior presentation on Saturday. He took the win ahead of his closest rival Taylor Garcia and fellow countryman Tyce Zendler.

Teagan Burns jumping her way into second place

Teagan Burns jumping her way into second place

That’s it for Junior Moomba for another year, another great tournament put on by the Victorian Water Ski Association. The main event starts tomorrow, The Moomba Masters International Invitational. Womens slalom will be the first cab off the rank at 8am tomorrow morning.

Joshua Louder

2013 Junior Moomba Masters Day 1

We started today behind the eight ball straight away after not one but two octuple sculls rowed into the front of the jump puncturing the ramp floats on both occasions. Full credit must go to the Junior Moomba organisers still starting on time with boys tricks. Although tricks ran up river from the Swan Street Bridge so the ramp could have some maintenance done to it.

No surprises in boys tricks even though Joshua Briant fell very early on his toe run it was still enough to take top seed into round 2 with 6430 ahead of Taylor Garcia (5500) and Tyce Zendler (4830). The standard of tricking in the junior girls was a little higher than the boys with favourite Erika Lang leading with 8990 ahead of Canadian Chantal Singer (5520) and Aussie Bianca Mulach (5340).

The junior girls did both their rounds of slalom today due to the ramp still being worked on. The scores were lower than usual for all 13 girls after the first round but for the second round the wind died down and the current settled, this showed in the scores. Every girl skied better in the second round some even more than two passes better! After a mediocre first round Kara Macintyre put a score out to beat with 4@12m and it wasn’t until Erika Lang that the 13m line was run again. Lang scored 3@12m which gave her an equal combined score with Macintyre. After a count back to the 2nd round score Macintyre was given the lead. Last off the dock, Chantal Singer couldn’t chase down the two Americans but took the last spot on the podium with 4@13m.

In junior boys slalom the 12m line was run 4 times in the first round which goes to show the high standard of skiing, especially on The Yarra. The South African Eamon Van Der Merwe was the first person to run it scoring 2@11.25m, Aussie Joshua Briant equalled this score while next off the dock Jonah Shaffer was half a buoy below the leaders with 1.5@11.25m. After narrowly missing out on the finals for last weekend’s Australian Open Dane Mechler surely made up for it taking top seed into the second round with 3.5@11.25m.

After some more maintenance on the jump ramp it was still slightly out after homologation so the junior jump event was postponed until tomorrow. If all goes to plan the rowers will see the big red thing in the water that is about 4 metres wide and 7 metres long and we will be ready to jump tomorrow.

It all starts tomorrow with junior boys trick at 8am


The Yarra River at 7pm with the jump ramp that is ever so slightly out

Joshua Louder

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

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