It was an extraordinary weekend at the 43rd World Cup Stop of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). For the fourth time, the City of Mandurah included Wakeboard and Waterski Jump in their Action Sports Games. With dolphins, pelicans and over 100,000 spectators on site plus athletes from 21 countries, this turned out to be a very different competition.
Three World Champions were destined this weekend not to take top honors at the Mandurah World Cup! Only one would succeed. Nobody expected what would emerge. MasterCraft again provided the World Cup boats and the support services.
On Friday, tropical Cyclone Olwyn delivered wind gusts of over 200kph as it vented its fury on the coastline north of Mandurah. Anticipating approaching trouble on the water, IWWF officials declared that Friday Jump performances might be used as the official results if conditions deteriorated. As it turned out, this was a wise decision. For the Wakeboarders, they were more fortunate. Their time slots delivered reasonably good conditions and towards Sunday Finals time, blue skies and sunny weather returned once again.
The drama began for the Jumpers on Friday. As an extreme sport, approaching a Jump Ramp at over 120kph is challenging at the best of times. Early influences of Cyclone Olwyn were already creating choppy waters. For the Women’s,eight athletes chased four final’s places. Lauren Morgan (USA), Marie Vympranietsova (GRE) on borrowed equipment, Nancy Chardin (FRA) and Marion Ellis (FRA) were unable to get beyond 44.8m to qualify. Then followed a fantastic battle for the Podium. June Fladborg (DEN) pushed hard for 46.0m but was quickly beaten by the top seeds Jutta Menistrina (FIN) and World Record Holder Natallia Travers. With Travers 46.6m on the board, only the current World Champion Jacinta Carroll (AUS) remained. Having won the Moomba Masters just last week, and true to form, her 48.8m was yet another victory.
For Women’s Wakeboard, the drama continued to make this an unforgettable weekend. With choppy waters, the riders coped well. As usual, the Heats and LCQ’s saw the best survive – including the 16 year-old Australian sensation Chloe Mills. The outstanding performances at this point came from 2013 Mandurah World Cup winner Bec Gange (AUS) and IWWF World Champion Raimi Merritt (USA). As the Finals began, more typical Mandurah weather returned. While Chloe Mills (AUS) and Ashley Leugner (CAN) performed well, the standard was just too high to progress. Bec Gange (AUS) was the first surprise. She was beaten by Sweden’s Rider of the Year, Carro Djupsjo. That left Nicola Butler USA who took silver here a year ago – and World Champion Raimi Merritt (USA). In execution, intensity and composition, Butler was sensational. Her score of 54.56 presented a huge challenge for Raimi Merritt. Although Merritt was highly impressive, Nicola Butler could not be beaten – even by a World Champion. Yet another drama for the scoreboard!