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.

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