Australian Water Ski Team from the 2023 World Championships

Meet Australia’s Young Hopefuls for the 2024 Moomba Masters


Meet Australia’s young hopefuls for the 2024 Moomba Masters

Australian Water Ski Team from the 2023 World Championships

Image: @aussiewaterskiers

By Jack Burden

Only the most avid water ski followers from outside of Australia might recognize more than just a few names among the local skiers participating in the 63rd Moomba Masters International Invitational. While the top seeds boast seasoned and well-known figures in the world of water skiing, the rest of the field consists of emerging talents, many of whom remain relatively unknown to the international audience. The event’s timing and location have historically restricted the pool of northern hemisphere athletes, adding an extra layer of excitement as these young talents aim to make their mark on the global stage.

Here are five skiers who could pose a challenge to the regular pros in Melbourne this week:

Archie Davis at the 2023 World Championships

Image: @aussiewaterskiers

Archie Davis

The 25-year-old Canberran is an exceptionally skilled overall skier. Before the Covid Pandemic, he held a top-10 world ranking for men’s overall, capable of running mid-10.75m (39.5′ off), tricking over 9,000 points, and jumping over 200 feet.

While he has excelled across disciplines, the jump event has been particularly successful for him in recent seasons. In the 2022 Moomba Masters, he posted a personal best of 67.4 meters (221 feet), finishing third in the highest-scoring Moomba final ever. Watch for Davis to contend for the title again this week.

Sade Ferguson at the 2023 Under-21 World Championships

Image: @connorpauleyski

Sade Ferguson

The 20-year-old Queenslander was once regarded by some as the heir apparent to Jacinta Carroll. She gained attention by winning the jump event at the 2018 U17 World Championships at just 15 years old, but a series of injuries have kept her sidelined in recent seasons.

2023 marked a significant return to form for her, finishing as the runner-up in slalom, jump, and overall at the U21 World Championships. At the Open World Championships, she narrowly missed the finals in both slalom and jump, including a runoff for the 12th spot in slalom. Look for her to potentially upset the field in either of her two favored events.

Josh Wallent jumps at the 2018 Moomba Masters

Image: @josh.wallent

Josh Wallent

The 26-year-old South Australian was incredibly talented from a young age. He narrowly secured second place to Taylor Garcia at the 2014 U17 World Championships and is a former Junior Moomba champion. After setting a personal best of 67 meters (220 feet) in 2022, he took a nearly two-year hiatus from tournament skiing. Now back for the Moomba Masters this year, it will be intriguing to see if he can regain his previous form.

Lucas Cornale at the 2023 Moomba Masters

Image: @marklucas900

Lucas Cornale

The 18-year-old Queenslander is one of the rising stars in Australian slalom skiing. Finishing as the runner-up at the 2022 U17 World Championships after a dramatic double runoff for the title, he is capable of running 10.75m (39.5′ off). Placing 5th at last year’s Moomba Masters, he aims to climb the ranks further this year.

Image: @waterskinsw

Lara Butlin

The 19-year-old New South Welshmen was one of the most improved skiers in the 2023 season, climbing 39 spots on the world ranking list after elevating her personal best from 37 to over 45 meters in jump. She clinched a bronze medal in overall at the U21 World Championships last year and will aim to advance to Monday’s finals across all three events, challenging for a podium finish in jump.

Regina Jaquess Targets First Moomba Masters Slalom Title

Regina Jaquess Targets First Moomba Masters Slalom Title


Regina Jaquess targets first Moomba Masters slalom title

Regina Jaquess Targets First Moomba Masters Slalom Title

Image: @regina_jaquess

By Jack Burden

Regina Jaquess, arguably the greatest water skier of all time, has seemingly conquered everything there is to achieve in world water skiing. The only skier in the 21st century to win professional titles in all four disciplines — slalom, trick, jump, and overall — there is one crown that still eludes her. Since winning tricks on her debut visit to Melbourne as a 19-year-old in 2003, Jaquess has returned several times to the Yarra but is yet to clinch a Moomba Masters slalom title.

Jaquess, who balances her professional water ski aspirations alongside owning and operating a compounding pharmacy in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has rarely traveled outside of the U.S. over the last decade. Typically reserving international travel for titled events, such as the World Championships, Jaquess has not competed at the Moomba Masters since 2012.

Her last visit to Melbourne was her most fruitful in the slalom event, placing third behind the Canadian pair of Whitney McClintock and Breanne Dodd. Across her three trips to the Moomba Masters, she has placed fourth, fifth, and third in slalom, incredibly advancing to finals across all three events at each tournament.

This is interesting because nightmare tales of international athletes flying all the way to Australia only to miss their first pass in the challenging conditions of the Yarra are common. Yet Jaquess has performed consistently on each of her visits.

Jaquess, who turns 40 this year, is entering the twilight of her professional career, and perhaps has decided to attempt to conquer the Yarra one last time before hanging up the skis. She will come up against her old foe Whitney McClintock Rini, who has won more Moomba slalom titles than any other woman, as well as a host of other strong contenders.

The American will also compete in the jump event against the local favorite Jacinta Carroll, who is attempting to retain her Moomba crown just 100 days after giving birth. Jaquess, who won the King of Darkness jump event last year, may also challenge for the Moomba jump title.

The new USA Water Ski executive director poses for a photo in board shorts and a blazer

Kevin Michael: A Revolutionary in Board Shorts


Kevin Michael: A revolutionary in board shorts

The new USA Water Ski executive director poses for a photo in board shorts and a blazer

Kevin Michael, USA-WSWS’ new Executive Director, poses for a photo opportunity during his first month on the job (image: @gangstersofflight)

By Jack Burden

In many ways, Kevin Michael embodies what is great about the sport of water skiing. A laid-back Midwesterner with a penchant for cracking jokes and flashing smiles, his passion ignites when the conversation turns to the lake. Whether it’s slalom, wakeboarding, freestyle jumping, or any other watersport activity, if it involves enjoying a summer’s day behind a boat with friends, count Michael in. But can this man, recently appointed as the Executive Director of USA Water Ski and Wake Sports, effectively lead one of the sport’s most influential organizations, clad in board shorts and a blazer?

It’s a tough gig, to say the least. Steering and expanding towed water sports in the United States—the world’s largest market—is akin to pushing against the tide. By all accounts, Michael’s predecessors were highly competent and managed to navigate the organization through difficult times. Nate Boudreaux, the outgoing Executive Director, was an experienced manager of large sports organizations, excelling at financial stewardship and running a tight ship. However, it is hard to imagine an outsider to the sport, like Boudreaux, having the passion, reach, and insider knowledge to turn the tide on a sport in decline.

This is where Michael steps in. A 30-year industry veteran, his passion for towed water sports has taken him far and wide. With stints in marketing and media roles at Waterski and Wakeboarding Magazine, Malibu Boats, and as the executive director of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA), he’s well-versed in the industry’s ins and outs. In the latter role, he rubbed shoulders with politicians in Washington D.C., advocating for the industry’s interests—presumably, his wardrobe does include attire beyond just board shorts.

Michael’s strengths lie in marketing towed water sports and lobbying for the sport’s interests—an ideal fit for the organization’s needs. As a lifelong participant himself, he understands the importance of grassroots campaigns and broad audience visibility to drive participation. He injects fresh energy and innovative ideas into a sport often bogged down in tradition. While many in the sport focus solely on their preferred discipline, Michael has the cross-discipline passion to unite disparate groups under the same tent.

In his first month on the job, Michael has already made promising strides. He recently appeared on both the Water Skier Magazine’s Hit It! podcast and the TWBC podcast, sharing his vision for the future of the organization. His optimism and desire to build forward momentum are infectious. He’s even taken over the organization’s social media accounts, producing videos featuring some of the USA’s top athletes.

However, it’s crucial to temper expectations. Michael now oversees an organization with 14,000 members across nine sport disciplines—a monumental responsibility. Navigating relationships with the U.S. Olympic Committee and other government bodies, providing insurance for clubs and tournaments, and appeasing elected representatives from the various disciplines are no small feats.

Yet, Michael remains undaunted. Embracing the challenge, he emphasizes the need for grassroots involvement and hands-on participation from the water skiing community. Sharing on the Hit It! podcast: “Everyone asks me, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ I keep telling everybody, I need you on the water, and I need you to teach people for the first time how to do anything behind the boat… introduce people to the sport.”

Author Frank Herbert once remarked, “Bureaucracy destroys initiative.” We hope that Michael, in his new role at USA Water Ski and Wake Sports, is the exception that proves the rule. He has the opportunity to challenge the norm and pave the way for a brighter future. As he embarks on this “revolution,” Michael’s leadership could redefine the landscape of towed water sports for generations to come.

IWWF Reverses ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes

IWWF Reverses Ban: Russian and Belarusian Athletes Cleared for International Competitions


IWWF Reverses Ban: Russian and Belarusian Athletes Cleared for International Competitions

IWWF Reverses ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes

Image: @iwwfed

By Jack Burden

In a significant shift of policy, the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) announced today that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be permitted to compete at all IWWF sanctioned events, including World Championships and Confederation Titled Events. This decision marks a significant departure from the stringent ban imposed on these athletes amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Initially, in March 2022, the IWWF adopted a firm stance, resolving to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from all sanctioned events while refraining from endorsing any events in Russia or Belarus. Despite calls from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to permit Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutral participants under specific conditions, the IWWF maintained its position throughout the following year.

While the federation slightly relaxed its restrictions in August 2023, allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to register and compete under the IWWF flag in certain events, they remained barred from the 2023 World Championships and all other titled events. Notably, athletes like Russia’s Igor Morozov and the Belarusian team, which had placed fifth in 2021, were unable to participate in the World Championships.

However, despite the appearance of a stringent stance, the IWWF’s ban proved largely ineffective. Following the initial announcement in Spring 2022, Belarus’ top skiers, Aliaksandra Danishueskaya and Hanna Straltsova, swiftly switched their federation from Belarus to the USA to circumvent the restrictions. Despite the IWWF’s revision of its Rules of Eligibility in October 2022, which imposed a 12-month period of ineligibility for athletes switching federations, Danishueskaya and Straltsova continued to compete and even secured world titles under the USA Water Ski banner.

Furthermore, a glaring oversight occurred when Morozov’s scores from the 2022 Louisiana Night Jam were included in the IWWF’s official scorebook and world ranking list, despite him being listed as a Russian competitor. Although Morozov participated in the event under the AWSA Class C sanction, which falls outside IWWF jurisdiction, his scores should never been recorded in the IWWF scorebook.

The IWWF’s role in navigating geopolitical tensions while upholding the integrity of competitions has been fraught with challenges. An example of the complexities involved arose when the federation initially posted an announcement allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, with the backdrop of a Ukrainian flag and referring to the war as a “conflict.” The post sparked backlash from past and current Ukrainian athletes, prompting the IWWF to issue a revised statement.

Ultimately, the exclusion of athletes from any country should not be taken lightly. It is essential to acknowledge that Russian and Belarusian athletes are also caught up in events beyond their control. While it may be our responsibility in the waterskiing community to play a small part in applying pressure on the administrations in these countries, we deceive ourselves if we believe that waterskiing has any substantial impact on the outcome of this tragic war. Perhaps the best course of action is to provide athletes with opportunities to compete on the international stage while avoiding entanglement in political disputes.

Malibu to continue production of the Response TXi

Malibu Confirms They Will Continue Production of the TXi in Wake of Rumors


Malibu confirms that they will continue production of the TXi, albeit with reduced tournament support

Malibu to continue production of the Response TXi

Image: Malibu Boats

By Jack Burden

In response to swirling rumors about the potential discontinuation of Malibu’s Response TXi model, Rob Corum, Malibu’s marketing manager, has stepped forward to dispel the speculation. Corum confirmed, “Yes, these rumors regarding the discontinuation of the Response TXi are untrue. Malibu is committed to continuing to build the world-record ski boat and qualifying the boat as an approved AWSA towboat for the foreseeable future.”

However, Corum also shed light on the company’s strategic cutbacks to the ski program in response to recent financial challenges. “The business realities of a small and declining ski business have necessitated change going forward,” he explained.

One noticeable consequence of this change in direction was the unexpected termination of Dennis Kelley, the longtime National Promo Team Director, which sent shockwaves through the waterski community. While the company has assured continued production of the Response TXi hull, the promo boat program, spearheaded by Kelley, appears to be in jeopardy.

Corum explained, “The decision to streamline Malibu’s ski competition activities/staffing was certainly not taken lightly as we considered the heritage of Malibu and our role in the sport that has been so passionately fostered by DK, ski promo personnel, and talented skiers over the years.” This development raises concerns about the future availability of Malibu boats at tournaments, particularly in the United States.

The loss of company support for promo boats could result in a significant reduction in their presence at tournaments, potentially making Malibus a rare sight on the competition circuit. With only around 50 TXis produced in 2023, the odds of these boats making it to tournaments with minimal financial incentives for private owners are uncertain. Additionally, it is unclear if Malibu boats will continue to feature at titled events such as AWSA Regional and National Championships, potentially diminishing the appetite of die-hard tournament skiers to purchase and train behind the TXi.

Cost efficiency emerged as a recurring theme during Malibu Boats Inc.’s recent quarterly earnings call, with CEO Jack Springer highlighting the company’s efforts to control variable costs. “We have spent the past couple of months ensuring cost efficiencies throughout our organization,” remarked Springer, underscoring the company’s commitment to adapting to market conditions.

Malibu Boats Inc. is under significant financial pressure following a sharp decline in revenue, as revealed in their most recent quarterly earnings report. It is understandable then that the company has decided to attempt to cut costs within their ski program, where the smaller size boats typically generate a significantly smaller margin per build slot. The decision underscores the precarious position of three-event skiing, with the limited market leaving us dependent on the legacy goodwill of boat manufacturers.

As Malibu further rolls back their involvement in the tournament water ski scene, the water ski community faces hard questions about the future of the sport with declining industry support. While the confirmation of continued TXi production offers reassurance, the implications of reduced tournament support raise questions about the affordability and accessibility in the sport moving forward.

Professional water skier Corey Vaughn

Corey Vaughn: “My Plan is to Retire After Two More Seasons”


Corey Vaughn: “My plan is to retire after two more seasons”

Professional water skier Corey Vaughn

Peace, Love and Waterskiing’s own Corey Vaughn (image: Michael Danchi)

By Jack Burden

Corey Vaughn, the free-spirited slalom specialist from Virginia, has carved an unconventional path in his professional water ski career. Raised on free skiing and occasional outings on a portable course with his grandfather at a public lake in North Carolina, Vaughn displayed talent from an early age, winning his first tournament as a junior. However, it wasn’t until after college that Vaughn fully committed to tournament skiing. Since then, he has maintained a consistent presence on the professional circuit, notably becoming the 10th man to run 10.25m (41’ off) in 2015. In contrast to his peers predominantly based in Florida, Vaughn has remained rooted in his native Virginia, operating a ski school with a grassroots focus and supplementing his income with substitute teaching.

Now 38 years old and a father himself, Vaughn finds himself approaching the twilight of his career. A disappointing 2022 season prompted him to reassess his priorities, feeling stretched thin by the demands of fatherhood, business ownership, and elite athletic competition. Rather than immediately retiring, Vaughn embarked on a three-year plan aimed at turning things around, beginning with the 2023 season.

In his quest for balance and synergy among family, business, and skiing, Vaughn made significant lifestyle changes. Speaking on a recent episode of The Water Skier’s podcast Hit It!, Vaughn shared, “One of the first things that went down on the plan was I realized that I needed to quit drinking alcohol… that went into effect last January.” He continued, “A number of other lifestyle factors followed; tightening up my nutrition, wearing devices, getting curious about my sleep, and seeing a sports psychologist… just bringing in other modalities, things that I haven’t been exercising before.”

The results were tangible. In 2023, Vaughn experienced what he considers his best season yet, finishing 9th on the Waterski Pro Tour after making the finals in every event he entered. Despite this success, Vaughn remains committed to his three-year retirement plan: “My plan is to retire after two more seasons. That’s not to say I won’t ever throw my hat in at a pro tournament or a national’s if I’m skiing well, but to make it a 365-day-a-year obsession, which it currently is, it’s something that I will put down and walk away from.”

Though he’s still chasing his first professional title, Vaughn remains ambitious, stating, “As audacious as it sounds, my plan is to step on the stage with [Nate Smith], all equal conditions, and be able to go out there and take a win, at least once.”

Reflecting on the sport’s evolution since his early days, Vaughn expresses optimism for its future. “When I think back to where things were as I was coming into the scene in 2009/2010… that was almost a low point,” he recalls. “We’re having a moment right now… I want to stay involved and see this momentum that we have built go to the next level because I feel like we are just on this side of a threshold point of breaking through to something bigger.”

Vaughn envisions improvements in the sport’s format and packaging to attract wider audiences and higher-level sponsors. ” I won’t be there for it on the athlete end, but I certainly hope to see it because the sport deserves it,” he said. “If I can be part of it, I hope I can do something.”

A brand new Malibu Response TXi

Malibu Discontinuing Ski Boats? Here’s What We Know So Far


Malibu discontinuing ski boats? Here’s what we know so far

A brand new Malibu Response TXi

The end of an era? (image: Malibu Boats Australia)

By Jack Burden

Rumors have emerged within the waterskiing community regarding the potential discontinuation of Malibu’s Response TXi model. While Malibu has yet to make an official announcement, multiple sources have speculated that the future of the company’s ski boats may be in jeopardy.

The company, which manufactures Malibu, Axis, and Cobalt boat lines, is facing significant financial trouble. Malibu’s stock price plummeted following a sharp decline in revenue, as revealed in their most recent quarterly earnings report. Adding fuel to the fire, Dennis Kelley, the longtime National Promo Team Director of ski program, was reportedly let go by the organization.

Kelley, who celebrated 30 years with Malibu in late 2022 and managed their ski program for much of that time, is uncertain about the future of the TXi. While Return to Baseline has reached out to Malibu for comment, no response has been received thus far.

Update: Malibu confirms that they will continue production of the TXi, albeit with reduced tournament support

Malibu dealers and others close to the organization have not received any news of changes to the program from the company at this stage, leaving us cautiously optimistic that the rumors may be unfounded. However, the plausibility of one of the big three manufacturers ceasing production underscores the tenuous situation of three-event skiing. The limited market leaves us dependent on the legacy goodwill of boat manufacturers, who typically earn much higher margins on their other products.

Malibu’s recent stockholders’ earnings call portrayed a bleak outlook, reflecting broader industry challenges. CEO Jack Springer candidly acknowledged the tough quarter, attributing it to economic uncertainty and soft retail demand. Expressing his frustration, Springer remarked, “It is a tough market to say the least.”

Bruce Beckman, Malibu’s CFO, underscored the severity of the company’s financial predicament, stating, “We anticipate a year-over-year decline in annual net sales ranging from a mid to high 30s percentage point decrease.”

The Tennessee-based boat manufacturer, founded in Merced, California in 1982, quickly rose to prominence for its innovative ski boats. Over the years, the company expanded its offerings to include wake boats, capitalizing on the rise in popularity of wake sports. Today, the company manufactures boats in Tennessee, California, and Australia.

The rumors of discontinuation have sent shockwaves through the waterskiing community, raising concerns about the future of the sport. Athletes like Regina Jaquess and Thomas Degasperi, Malibu’s remaining water ski athletes, face the loss of their primary sponsor. Additionally, the fate of the longstanding Malibu Open tournament hangs in the balance, casting a shadow over the 2024 season.

Moreover, dwindling competition and production in the ski boat market pose significant challenges for water skiers. The rising cost of boats, coupled with a smaller supply, could further inflate prices and limit accessibility to the sport. In recent years, the Response TXi has consistently been the most affordable top-end ski boat on the market, rivaled only by the limited run of Nautique 200s still in production.

While hopes remain that competitors like Nautique and MasterCraft would fill the void left by a potential Malibu exit, uncertainties loom large. Both companies have historically prioritized higher-margin wake boats, leaving waterski enthusiasts anxious about the future.

These are potentially challenging times for the sport of water skiing, and we remain hopeful that the rumors turn out to be untrue, or at the very least, that Malibu’s decision is only a temporary measure and that they are able to reenter the water ski market in the future.

2024 Tournament Water Ski Season

Five Burning Questions for the 2024 Water Ski Season


Five burning questions for the 2024 water ski season

2024 Tournament Water Ski Season

What to watch throughout the 2024 water ski season.

By Jack Burden

As the water ski community eagerly anticipates the 2024 season, there are five burning questions on our mind, shaping the narrative of what promises to be another exhilarating year. From records under threat to a potential changing of the guard, here are some of the key storylines to watch:

1. Is Berdnikava’s Overall Record in Danger?

Natallia Berdnikava’s overall world record, set in 2012, has seemed unassailable for over a decade. However, Hanna Straltsova and Giannina Bonnemann Mechler may pose a threat to the longest standing open world record in three-event water skiing. In 2023, both Straltsova and Bonnemann Mechler posted scores that, if performed in the same round, would have surpassed Berdnikava’s mark. Straltsova, now the joint second-highest scoring women’s jumper of all time (tied with Berdnikava), begins the season as the top-ranked overall skier in the world. Likewise, Bonnemann Mechler, one of only six women to score over 10,000 points, put herself in contention after running 11.25m (38’ off) for the first time last season.

2. Who Will Be the Next Man to Win a Professional Slalom Title?

Men’s slalom in 2023 was dominated by just two men, Nate Smith and Freddie Winter. The only other man to win a professional title was Thomas Degasperi, making him the oldest-ever professional slalom champion with his victory at the Malibu Open. Since Daniel Odvarko won the Ski Stillwaters Pro Team Challenge in 2020, no one other than Smith, Winter, Degasperi, or Will Asher has claimed an event. A whole generation of superbly talented slalom skiers, including several members of the 41-off club, has never won an event. Look for the likes of Dane Mechler, Cole McCormick, Brando Caruso, and Rob Hazelwood to challenge for their first professional victory in 2024.

3. Will the Old Guard of Krueger and Dodd Continue to Dominate Men’s Jump?

Similarly, men’s jumping has been dominated by two men for the last decade. Since 2010, Freddy Krueger (51) and Ryan Dodd (39) have won more than twice as many professional jump titles as all other skiers combined (17). The next closest on the list, Jack Critchley and Zack Worden, have only managed four apiece. However, Krueger turns 49 this season, and Dodd will reach 40 later in the year. Will the old guard continue to dominate for another season, or will we see some young blood start to edge out these two, among the greatest to ever compete?

4. What’s the Ceiling on Trick Performances?

2023 witnessed the highest-scoring year of tricks ever, by a considerable margin. Over 25% of all scores over 12,000 points were achieved in the year. Patricio Font continued to extend the world record, approaching 13,000 points. Similarly, on the women’s side, Erika Lang extended her world record, and both Neilly Ross and Anna Gay broke 11,000 points for the first time. Perhaps most excitingly, these record-breaking scores were not confined to amateur ‘backyard’ events. Font equaled his world record at two professional tournaments and at the World Championships, and Lang broke 11,000 at the Swiss Pro Tricks and the U.S. Masters. With the level of tricks so high, even under pressure on the big stage, what kind of scores will it take to win across 2024?

5. Who Will Emerge Victorious in Women’s Slalom This Year?

The battle for the season championship on the Waterski Pro Tour was hotly contested throughout 2023. No one skier was able to dominate, with Jaimee Bull, Regina Jaquess, and Whitney McClintock Rini all winning multiple events. Also in the mix was Allie Nicholson, the only skier to compete in every event, showing incredible consistency. Ultimately, Bull edged Jaquess by two tour points in a field where only 40 points separated 1st through 4th. Who will claim the season title in 2024?

Ryan Dodd leaves the dock at the 2023 Moomba Masters

Strong Field Confirmed for the 63rd Moomba Masters as Carroll Eyes Comeback


Strong field confirmed for the 63rd Moomba Masters as Jacinta Carroll eyes comeback

Ryan Dodd leaves the dock at the 2023 Moomba Masters

Waterskiing’s finest set to converge in Melbourne (image: @vincephotography)

By Jack Burden

The stage is set for the 63rd Moomba Masters International Invitational, one of water skiing’s premier events, as the Victorian Water Ski Association sent out invitations for the tournament scheduled in March. A total of 65 athletes hailing from 15 countries have confirmed their participation, promising a fiercely competitive and diverse field.

The 2024 roster boasts a remarkable lineup, including four out of the six individual event winners from the previous year’s World Championships and all six individual event world record holders. Notably, Regina Jaquess, making a return to Melbourne after over a decade, will be eyeing her first Moomba Masters slalom title.

While the top seeds showcase seasoned and recognized names in the world of water skiing, the rest of the field comprises emerging talents, many of whom are relatively unknown. The event’s timing and location have historically posed challenges for northern hemisphere athletes, adding an extra layer of excitement as young talents seek to make a mark on the global stage.

A notable addition to the entry list is Jacinta Carroll, the world record holder, who welcomed her first child in December of the preceding year. Carroll, undefeated in professional events since 2013, aims to secure her 10th consecutive Moomba Masters title, provided she recovers in time for the event.

The Moomba Masters, held in downtown Melbourne during the city’s annual Moomba Festival, draws the largest crowd of any water ski event globally. The Yarra River, with its brackish water, variable tidal current, and challenging bounceback from the river’s banks, sets a demanding stage for the athletes. However, the unparalleled atmosphere of skiing in front of thousands of spectators makes it one of the most thrilling experiences in the sport.

Top 10 Seeded Women:

Regina Jaquess (USA)Erika Lang (USA)Jacinta Carroll (AUS)
Whitney Rini (CAN)Neilly Ross (CAN)Regina Jaquess (USA)
Neilly Ross (CAN)Hannah Stopnicki (CAN)Aaliyah Yoong Hannifah (MAS)
Elizabeth Montavon (USA)Alexia Abelson (USA)Sade Ferguson (AUS)
Alice Bagnoli (ITA)Aaliyah Yoong Hannifah (MAS)Lara Butlin (AUS)
Sade Ferguson (AUS)Erica Hayes (AUS)Kristy Appelton (AUS)
Christhiana De Osma (PER)Sade Ferguson (AUS)Sanchia Outram (GBR)
Sanchia Outram (GBR)Kristy Appelton (AUS)Elizabeth Hall (USA)
Lara Butlin (AUS)Laura Hayes (AUS)Zarhli Reeves (AUS)
Erika Lang (USA)Sanchia Outram (GBR)

Top 10 Seeded Men:

Nate Smith (USA)Patricio Font (MEX)Ryan Dodd (CAN)
Frederick Winter (GBR)Matias Gonzalez (CHI)Jack Critchley (GBR)
Thomas Degasperi (ITA)Jake Abelson (USA)Igor Morozov (IWF)
Corey Vaughn (USA)Edoardo Marenzi (ITA)Tobias Giorgis (ARG)
Joel Howley (AUS)Pol Duplan-Fribourg (FRA)Edoardo Marenzi (ITA)
Charlie Ross (CAN)Tobias Giorgis (ARG)Archie Davis (AUS)
Nicholas Adams (AUS)Bautista Ahumada (ARG)Pol Duplan-Fribourg (FRA)
Cale Burdick (USA)Archie Davis (AUS)Josh Wallent (AUS)
Lucas Cornale (AUS)Lucas Cornale (AUS)Alex King (NZL)
Arron Davies (GBR)Callan Ashcroft (AUS)Patricio Zohar (ARG)

IWWF to Host First World Wakesurf Championship

IWWF to Host First World Wakesurf Championships: A Shift in Priorities?


IWWF to host first World Wakesurf Championships: A shift in priorities?

IWWF to Host First World Wakesurf Championship


By Jack Burden

The International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) has announced the initiation of the inaugural IWWF World Wakesurf Championships. Slated to take place at Tai Po Waterfront Park in Hong Kong from November 3rd to 10th, 2024, the event is a bold step into the realm of wakesurfing, perhaps signaling a potential shift in priorities within the water sports community.

Noteworthy is the decision to offer a cash prize of $30,000 for the Open Men and Women’s skim and surf categories. This is a departure from the tradition upheld by the World Waterski Championships, which have historically maintained an amateur status.

The choice of Hong Kong as the host is strategic, given the sport’s rising popularity in the region. Hong Kong, China Waterski Association (HKCWA) President, Michael Chow, expressed excitement, stating, “We are very excited to welcome wakesurf athletes and supporters from all over the world, and we will do our utmost best to be the very best host during their stay in Hong Kong.”

Despite wakesurfing gaining global traction, its organized participation is still hugely overshadowed by water skiing. In 2023, there were fewer than 20 IWWF-sanctioned wakesurf events, significantly less than the almost 600 IWWF-sanctioned water ski events. Additionally, the IWWF currently has 500 active wakesurf athletes, a stark contrast to the 12,700 registered water ski athletes.

Financially, the IWWF’s revenue stream has shifted in recent years. The majority of their annual income is now generated through EMS license fees, with water skiing dwarfing wakesurfing in funding. However, the organization’s primary source of income used to be sanction fees from titled events. It is possible that the inauguration of a Wakesurf World Championships might help address some of these revenue disparities.

In a parallel development, the International World Games Association (IWGA) has excluded water skiing from the 2025 World Games in Chengdu, China, breaking a tradition that endured since 1981. Instead, the spotlight will be on wakeboarding and wakesurfing, making its debut. The decision raises questions about the federation’s vision for the future.

The IWWF’s stated mission is to advance and service all towed water sports, so we should not be surprised when they promote other disciplines. There is significant crossover between the target audience for all towed water sports, so isolating water skiing has been unproductive in the past.

The reality is that, as much as critics within the water skiing community express reservations about the potential sidelining of traditional three-event water skiing, the IWWF’s hands are largely tied. The exclusion of water skiing from the World Games was primarily driven by the host country, China, and hosting a titled wakesurf event is necessary to select athletes for the Games. While traditional three-event skiing might be on the periphery, the wakeboarding and wakesurfing community welcomes the opportunity.

As the IWWF embarks on organizing the 1st World Wakesurf Championships, the water ski community watches closely, wondering if this move signals a broader transition in the industry and water sports organizations worldwide.