Nautique Athletes Shine at Moomba Masters!

Scorching Success: Moomba Delivers Yet Another Unforgettable Event

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Scorching success: Moomba delivers yet another unforgettable event

Nautique Athletes Shine at Moomba Masters!

Image: Nautique Boats

By Jack Burden


Water skiing’s coliseum. Nothing quite compares to the roar of the crowd, standing shoulder to shoulder along the banks of the Yarra River. Here, champions are tested, legacies are crafted, and the sport basks in the spotlight.

Moomba Monday, a public holiday in Melbourne for the annual festival, holds a significant place in the sport of water skiing. This year’s finals added another compelling chapter to the rich history of the longest-running professional water ski tournament.

A heatwave kept the crowds slightly lower than usual, as fans and festival-goers sought shade from the searing Melbourne sun. However, as evening descended, the banks were packed with spectators, especially for the night jump events.

In the trick event, the showdown between Canadian Neilly Ross and American Erika Lang ended with tied scores after the preliminary round. Ross stuck with a conservative run in the final, earning a solid 9,780 points. However, this left the door open for Lang to secure a comfortable margin of victory for her sixth Moomba Masters title, despite falling at the end of her toe run.

The men’s trick final promised to be a spectacle, especially after Jake Abelson and Matias Gonzalez set the two highest scores ever recorded on the Yarra River during Junior Moomba earlier in the week. The final was closely contested, with only 70 points separating Abelson and the reigning world champion, Patricio Font. In the end, a tight timing call decided the winner, giving Font his third Moomba title.

The women’s slalom event was dominated by the Florida contingent, with Elizabeth Montavon and Whitney McClintock Rini putting up solid scores. However, they fell short of world record holder Regina Jaquess, who claimed her first Moomba Masters slalom title on her first visit to the Yarra since 2012. Jaquess’ victory filled the only discernible gap in her long and illustrious resume.

Lucas Cornale, a rising star in world slalom skiing, made waves by becoming the first junior to run 10.75m (39.5′ off) on the Yarra earlier in the week. He continued his stellar performances in the open division, securing his first professional podium by beating seasoned professionals such as Thomas Degasperi and Corey Vaughn. Although Joel Howley set the bar with 0.5 @ 10.25m (41′ off), it wasn’t enough to fend off reigning world champion Freddie Winter, who claimed his first Moomba Masters title.

In the jump event, although the scoresheets may have suggested everything went to script, they failed to capture the exhilaration of the event. The women came out strong, sensing an opportunity to put pressure on an underprepared Jacinta Carroll, who was competing just 100 days after giving birth. All six finalists improved on their preliminary scores, some by several meters, but it was still Carroll, the greatest female jumper of all time, who took the win on her second jump with 51.8 meters (170 feet).

In an emotional speech following her 10th consecutive Moomba Masters victory, Jacinta announced her retirement from professional water skiing, sharing, “I started my professional career here in 2011 when I won my first Moomba Masters, so it was only fitting that I come back this year for my last professional jump event.” When asked if there was any chance we could see her back in 2025, Jacinta responded, “there’s a glimmer, and that’s why I sold my boat before this event,” marking an end to one of the most decorated careers in our sport.

The men’s jump final was equally gripping, with Jack Critchley and Pol Duplan-Fribourg posting solid scores over 200 feet but probably feeling that they had left the door open for a one-and-done Ryan Dodd victory. The 39-year-old Canadian stumbled, slipping out on his first two attempts before finally ripping off the biggest jump of the tournament on his third and final to win his fifth Moomba Masters jump title.

In the night jump finals, the younger competitors took center stage, with Critchley recording the biggest jump off the 5.5-foot ramp in the first round. Ultimately, Duplan-Fribourg emerged victorious in a one-jump shootout with Dodd, becoming the youngest to win a professional jump event since Critchley’s first title in 2017.

Overall, the 2024 season kicked off in spectacular fashion, with drama, intrigue, first-time champions, and record-breaking performances on the Yarra River. Once again, Melbourne has delivered an unforgettable event, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next edition in 2025.

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Travis Anderson
2 months ago

Great recap! Thanks. Someday, I want to be there in person.