With no less than three sets of major Wakeboard titles to be won in the coming week, the Arabian Gulf City of Doha in Qatar will be the centre of attention for Riders and fans around the world. Sunshine and clear blue skies await the athletes in this country which created the world’s largest purpose built indoor sports dome.
Qatar Marine Sports Federation President, H.E.Sheik Hassan Bin Jabor Althani, and Aspire, the Academy for Sports Excellence, are rightly proud of the enormous facility which houses an indoor Football Pitch, seven Outdoor Pitches, Olympic-sized Swimming Pool, Diving Pool, Combat Arena, Gymnastics Arena, Weight Rooms, Lecture Halls, Medical Centre, Catering facilities and dormitory space for 1,000 students. The International Water Ski Federation (IWSF) President, Kuno Ritschard, stated that he sees Doha as a vital base for high quality water sports development in the future.
At the man-made canal in the shadow of Doha’s Diplomatic Club, all the attention will now be on the water. The seven day programme will include the IWSF Wakeboard World Championships, the Arab Wakeboard Championships and the 21st and last Stop of 2007 IWSF Wakeboard World Cup series.
In the Wakeboard World Championships, over 150 Riders from 23 Nations will compete. For some it will be their first major international experience. For others it will be a time to accumulate important titles on a major world stage. In Moscow in 2005, there were some real surprises in these IWSF Championships.
In Open Women, again going back to the Moscow World Championships, Andrea Fountain (NZL) took the World Champion title ahead of Louise Moore (GBR) and Denise DeHaan (NED). This time around, Dallas Friday (USA) looks unbeatable but there will be tough challenges from Raime Merritt (USA), Sunni Ann Ball (CAN), Chen LiLi (CHN) and many other rising stars. It promises to be an enthralling duel between the very best Riders in the world.
In the final Stop of the 2007 IWSF Wakeboard World Cup series, while there are two highly tipped title favorites, the overall season champion title is still open to challenge. The top star at this point is Dallas Friday (USA). She has had a spectacular season. Friday just walked away with the Singapore title in September and is now fully recovered from her nasty accident of one year ago. However, Emily Copeland Durham, the defending World Cup series champion will certainly mount a serious challenge. The World Cup standards this year have been the highest to date. Following 21 successful Stops around the World, the series has played a major role in attracting new audiences. That Doha cash prize purse of $60,000 adds an extra competition dimension.
The Arab Wakeboard Championships will give all a rare opportunity to spot the champions of the future. Having access to warm water for twelve months of the year offers perfect training conditions. Add this to the unique facilities offered by Aspire and the future looks bright for the region.
MasterCraft, sponsors of the entire IWSF World Cup series, will again provide the boats and technical support.