The Orakei Basin in Auckland

2025 IWWF World University Water Ski Championships To Be Held in New Zealand


2025 IWWF World University Waterski Championships to be held in New Zealand

The Orakei Basin in Auckland

Aerial view of Orakei basin, near Auckland, New Zealand (image: Bruce W. Hayward)


The IWWF Executive Board has approved a bid from New Zealand Waterski Association to host the 2025 IWWF World University Waterski Championships at the Auckland Water Ski Club (AWSC). The Championships, which will include the three traditional events of slalom, tricks and jump, will be held February 26 through March 2, 2025 at the Orakei Basin in Auckland. The dates have been selected to align with New Zealand’s peak summer period and pre- Moomba Masters.

“The site is unique and located inside a dormant volcanic crater on the side of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland Harbour. It is within sight of the SkyTower in the centre of Auckland. While the site is saltwater based, it has hosted several great skiers and events over the years including the New Zealand Nationals every 5 years. It skis well with historical slalom scores into 10.25 metres and jumps over 65 metres.”

This will be the first IWWF World Titled traditional waterski event hosted by New Zealand and the first since our separation from the FISU World University Championships program. It will be towed exclusively by the World Record-Setting Ski Nautique.

The IWWF World University Waterski Championships is a team event comprised of skiers between the ages of 17 and 25 who are full time students in good standing at an accredited university.

The event itself has a very rich tradition with many of the world’s top skiers competing over the years. Beginning in 1996 with the first IWSF World University Trophy Tournament, in Milledgeville, Georgia, USA and a second IWSF World University Trophy Tournament in 1998 in Cleveland, Tennessee, the IWSF went on to sanction the 1st World University Waterski Championships in Tianjin, China, in 2002. The Tianjin event, probably the largest amateur waterski event in history with tens of thousands in attendance, was broadcast live on China’s National TV Network, which at the time had a total viewership of 600,000,000.

In 2002, The IWSF (Now IWWF) partnered with the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and FISU sanctioned events in Balakovo, Russia (2004), Tianjin, China (2008), Santiago, Chile (2012) and Akita, Japan (2016). Events were also scheduled for Dnipro, Ukraine in 2020 and Minsk, Belarus in 2022. Both were canceled, the first by COVID-19 pandemic, the second due to the war. Ukraine was rescheduled to 2024 but had to be canceled once again due to the war.

2025 marks the beginning of a new era as the World University Championships returns to the IWWF. The next event, hopefully, will take place in 2026 and will include two or more sport disciplines, conducted under the umbrella of the “IWWF University Worlds.”


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.

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.

Jason Peckham's innovative T-Shaped "Peckham Handle' designed to eliminate arm-through-handle waterski accidents

New T-Shaped Handle To Be Trialed in Tournaments, Aims to Prevent Handle Injuries


New T-shaped handle to be trialed in tournaments, aims to prevent handle injuries

Jason Peckham's innovative T-Shaped "Peckham Handle' designed to eliminate arm-through-handle waterski accidents

Image: IWWF

By Jack Burden

In a move aimed at bolstering safety in slalom skiing, the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) has given the green light for a 24-month trial period of a revolutionary T-shaped handle design. Known as the “Peckham Handle,” this innovation is geared towards averting injuries caused by skiers’ arms or heads inadvertently slipping through the handle during falls.

The approval for the tournament trial underscores the potential of the T-shaped handle to mitigate risks associated with conventional handle designs. The brainchild behind this safety-focused design is Jason Peckham of New York, who conceptualized it after a personal incident where his arm got entangled in the handle during a fall.

Upon learning about the approval for the 24-month trial, Peckham expressed his elation and gratitude, stating, “I’m super excited and thankful to everyone who has supported me in getting the concept to this point!” He further underscored his commitment to the production of the approved handles, emphasizing, “I’m working on the details of producing them now. My focus to this point has been on getting it approved for tournament use.”

Injuries associated with ski handles are infrequent but can be severe, ranging from broken bones and dislocated joints to muscle tears. Particularly rare are accidents where a skier’s head goes through the handle, a scenario that can have fatal consequences.

Safety concerns around traditional handle designs have prompted numerous skiers to explore additional safety measures, such as handle guards. Companies like Masterline, KD, and InTow have introduced attachable mesh guards or head guard crossbars to reduce the risk of arm-through-handle accidents. While these additions greatly improve protection, they still work within the framework of the traditional bridle design, leaving a potential opening for accidents.

The Peckham Handle revolutionizes this approach by eliminating the bridle altogether, eradicating the risk of arms slipping through. This innovative design, however, introduces new considerations. Potential drawbacks may include safety concerns related to the handle acting as a more dangerous projectile after handle pops, posing risks for boat crews. Additionally, skier performance could be impacted, as the T-shaped handle requires adaptation to a radically different design, potentially affecting handle balance and necessitating more precise hand placement.

All these factors will be scrutinized and evaluated as the T-shaped handle undergoes more widespread use during its two-year trial period. We commend Jason Peckham for his dedication to making the sport safer, and hope the trial period will provide valuable insights into the efficacy and potential challenges associated with this groundbreaking design.

Joel Poland and Erika Lang were named the IWWF male & female waterskiers of 2023.

Lang, Poland Named Skiers of the Year | IWWF


Erika Lang and Joel Poland named IWWF Waterskiers of the Year

Joel Poland and Erika Lang were named the IWWF male & female waterskiers of 2023.


The IWWF is pleased to announce the 2023 IWWF Male & Female Skiers & Riders of the Year, selected by their respective disciplines’ councils.

Images: Camaro/Johnny Hayward

2023 IWWF Female Water Skier of the Year: Erika Lang (USA)

Erika Lang demonstrated remarkable consistency throughout the season, securing victories in every trick event she participated in, with just one exception. A fantastic athlete, she set a new world trick record, surpassing her previous record.

  • Female Tricks World Record Holder: Erika set the record during the 2023 season with an impressive 11,360 points on May 19th, 2023, at the Sunset Cup – MLCQ.
  • World Ranking: 1st Place
  • Waterski Pro Tour Leaderboard: 1st Place
  • Pan American Games: 1st Place
  • World Championships: 1st Place

Images: BWSW/Johnny Hayward

2023 IWWF Male Water Skier of the Year: Joel Poland (Great Britain)

Joel Poland showcased outstanding consistency, consistently finishing among the top 10 in all disciplines throughout the season, with only one exception. A fantastic overall athlete, he set two overall world records in 2023. Notably, he became the sole three-event skier to run 10.25 (41′ off) at 58kph (36mph).

  • World Overall Record Holder: Joel set two records during the 2023 season. The first record, with 2664.16 points (1.00@58/10.25 – 11680 points – 69.8m), was established on September 2nd at the WWS Florida Cup. The second record, with 2670.62 points (2.00@58/10.25 – 11680 points – 69.3m), was set on September 16th during the Malibu Open.
  • World Ranking: Slalom 4th Place, Tricks 5th Place, Jump 3rd Place, Overall 1st Place
  • Waterski Pro Tour Leaderboard: Slalom 13th Place, Tricks 1st Place, Jump 4th Place
  • World Championships: 2nd Place Overall

2023 IWWF Skiers & Riders of the Year

BarefootAshleigh Stebbeings (AUS)Keenan Derry (AUS)
Disabled SkiSamantha-Jane Longmore (AUS)Connor Poggetto (USA)
Cable SkiPhoenix Baumgardt (GER)Aviv Levy (ISR)
Cable WakeboardJulia Rick (GER)Oliver Orban (HUN)
RacingNellie McMillan (AUS)Carter Robertson (AUS)
Show SkiGrace Petzold (USA)Peter Hegarty (USA)
WaterskiErika Lang (USA)Joel Poland (GBR)

Please click here to learn more about them. Congratulations!

From this list of outstanding skiers & riders, the IWWF Executive Board then selected the 2023 IWWF Male & Female Athletes of the Year:

2023 IWWF Female Athlete of the Year: Ashleigh Stebbeings (Australia)

2023 IWWF Male Athlete of the Year: Joel Poland (Great Britain)


IWWF Hall of Fame

Five Inductees Named to International Hall of Fame Class of 2024 | IWWF


2024 IWWF International Hall Of Fame Inductees Announced

International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation Hall of Fame

The IWWF Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding contributions to towed watersports (image: IWWF)


The IWWF International Hall of Fame proudly unveils its newest inductees, giving the greatest recognition in the realm of Waterskiing and Wakeboarding to those who have contributed more than humanly possible.

This distinguished award honours and celebrates the remarkable contributions of each recipient to their respective discipline, their community, their clubs, federations, confederations, the World, and the IWWF. 

With great pleasure, the IWWF extends its heartfelt congratulations to the outstanding individuals who have been inducted into the IWWF International Hall of Fame:

David SmallGreat BritainAthleteBarefoot
Keith St OngeUSAAthleteBarefoot
Brian PriceAustraliaOfficialBarefoot
Julia Meier-GromykoGermanyAthleteCable Waterski
Lynn NovakofskiUSAPioneerShowski

Details of their outstanding achievements can be found here.

Congratulations to all inductees!