Australian Water Ski Team from the 2023 World Championships

Meet Australia’s Young Hopefuls for the 2024 Moomba Masters

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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.

Slalom Moomba Masters

Quiz: Women with Multiple Moomba Masters Titles this Century

Quizzes

Quiz: Women with multiple Moomba Masters titles this century

Slalom skiing on the Yarra River in Downtown Melbourne

Moomba Masters (image: DFW Waterski)

By RTB


3 minute play

In this quiz, you have to name the women with the most Moomba Masters titles this century.

The list contains 12 skiers, all of whom have won at least two women’s Moomba Masters titles in this century. The list is topped by two of the most dominant athletes to ever take to the Yarra, with 10 wins apiece. We have mentioned their country, as well as their Moomba title’s this century.

Note: Night Jump and Overall titles were not included.

Regina Jaquess Targets First Moomba Masters Slalom Title

Regina Jaquess Targets First Moomba Masters Slalom Title

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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.

Moomba Masters Crowd

Quiz: Men with Multiple Moomba Masters Titles this Century

Quizzes

Quiz: Men with multiple Moomba Masters titles this century

A packed crowd on the banks of the Yarra River watches the Moomba Masters

Water skiers compete in the annual Moomba Masters tournament on the Yarra River (image: GM Marine)

By RTB


3 minute play

In this quiz, you have to name the men with the most Moomba Masters titles this century.

The list contains 13 skiers, all of whom have won at least two men’s Moomba Masters titles in this century. Surprisingly, no Australians make this list. We have mentioned their country, as well as their Moomba title’s this century.

Note: Night Jump and Overall titles were not included.

Jacinta Carroll has been unbeaten in professional competition since 2013

Quiz: Highest Winning Percentage in Women’s Pro Tournaments Since 2010

Quizzes

Quiz: Highest winning percentage in women’s professional tournaments since 2010

Jacinta Carroll has been unbeaten in professional competition since 2013

Image: Tournament Water Ski Australia

By RTB


3 minute play

In this quiz, you need to name the female skiers with highest winning percentage in professional tournaments since 2010.

The list has 15 skiers, all of whom have a winning percentage of greater than 10% in a single discipline competing in professional events since 2010. We have set the cut off at least ten professional tournaments in each discipline. The skier at the top of the list has not lost a tournament since 2013. We have given you the skier’s country, event, and winning percentage in the mentioned time period.

Data updated as of January 1, 2024

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

The 10 Greatest Men’s Overall Skiers of All Time, Ranked

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The 10 greatest men’s overall skiers of all time, ranked

Greatest Overall Skiers of All Time

Ranking the best male overall skiers of all time.

By RTB

Top 10 Rankings


Finally, we turn to the overall event, where we celebrate the true giants of the sport. In a realm where versatility reigns supreme, these athletes stand head and shoulders above the rest. The term “greatest athlete” is subjective, but here, we explore the remarkable careers of those who have not only achieved excellence but have conquered three distinct disciplines – slalom, trick, and jump – earning them the title of the sport’s greatest overall skiers.

These individuals have not just excelled; they’ve transcended the boundaries of what was thought possible. From the early pioneers, through the discipline’s professional peak in the 1990s, to the modern-day resurgence, our journey takes us through each skiers triumphs and tribulations. These overall skiers represent the pinnacle of the sport, demonstrating unmatched athleticism and finesse across the spectrum of water skiing events.

‘Greatest Of’ lists in any sport are inherently subjective and water skiing is no exception. There’s no definitive checklist to crown someone as the absolute best. Every fan out there has their own opinion. But decisions had to be made. We proudly present our picks for the 10 best male overall skiers in the history of competitive water skiing. So sit back, enjoy, and maybe even debate a little over our choices—after all, that’s the fun of it!

Kreg Llewellyn Trick Skiing

Llewellyn competes at the 1999 World Championships in Milan, Italy.

10. Kreg Llewellyn

One of the first men to break 10,000 points in trick skiing, Kreg, the elder of the renowned Llewellyn brothers, was an incredibly well-rounded skier. The sole athlete in the professional era to secure World Championship medals across all four disciplines (slalom, trick, jump, and overall), Kreg played a pivotal role on the Canadian team during their groundbreaking victories in the 1990s. At the 1991 World Championships in Austria he not only secured medals in trick and jump but also finished as the runner-up in overall. Llewellyn’s margin of defeat was the tightest ever seen in the sport, with Patrice Martin claiming victory by a mere 0.2 overall points.

His performances laid the foundation for Canada’s inaugural victory in the teams competition, the first time the U.S. lost the title in the history of the tournament. Although he never quite clinched top honors, he achieved runner-up placements in men’s overall again in 1997, along with a bronze in 1999. His professional achievements include victories at the U.S. Open, U.S. Masters, and Moomba Masters.

Siemers poses next to his photo on the USA Water Ski Museum

Siemers poses next to his photo in the USA Water Ski Museum (image: @jimmy_siemers)

9. Jimmy Siemers

An exceptionally talented skier from an early age, the Texan prodigy demonstrated his prowess by clinching victories in tricks, jump, and overall at the 1998 U17 World Championships. In a remarkable feat, at the age of just 18 in 2000, he broke the world overall record, bringing an end to Patrice Martin’s nine-year reign as the world’s number one ranked overall skier. His dominance continued at the inaugural U21 World Championships in 2003, where he triumphed again in tricks, jump, and overall. Later the same year, he came tantalizingly close to replicating these achievements at the Open World Championships, securing wins in tricks and overall, along with a runner-up finish in jump. Siemers would then go back-to-back, winning a second overall world title in 2005.

However, Siemers’ ascent to the pinnacle of the sport coincided with the decline of professional overall tournaments. Unfortunately, 2000 marked the final year of overall competition at the U.S. and Moomba Masters, while the U.S. Open continued until 2003. His lone professional victory in the discipline came at the 2002 U.S. Open. Ahead of his time, it would take nearly two decades for another skier to match his incredible feat of scoring over 12,000 points in trick skiing and jumping over 70 meters (230 feet).

Joel Poland performs a Raley on his Radar trick ski

Image: @radarskis

8. Joel Poland

After securing bronze at the 2019 World Championships in both jump and overall, Poland found another gear, breaking the world overall record in 2021 before winning one of the greatest overall battles in the sport’s history against Dorien Llewellyn and taking the world record back off Llewellyn in the process.

Dominant on the WWS Overall Tour, Poland emerged victorious as tour champion after an epic season long battle with Dorien Llewellyn and Louis Duplan-Fribourg in 2022, including one memorable tour stop where he won on all borrowed equipment. He followed up with an undefeated season in 2023, winning the final stop in style by breaking his own world record. After an early fall in the trick event at the 2023 World Championships, Poland was written off in the overall event before he produced the statement performance of the tournament the following day by running 10.25m (41’ off) for the first time to secure himself a runner up finish in the overall.

A quadruple threat, Poland is capable of winning events in slalom, tricks, jump, or overall as a member of the three most exclusive clubs in the sport; the 10.25m (41’ off), 70 meter (230’), and 12,000 point clubs. He stands as only the second man this century to secure podium finishes across all three disciplines at professional events. If Poland is able to maintain his current trajectory we expect him to finish his career much higher on this list.

Adam Sedlmajer Slalom Skiing

Image: @tiaremirandaphotography

7. Adam Sedlmajer

The first of a new generation of overall skiers, Sedlmajer’s foundation for success rested upon his slalom skills. Demonstrating remarkable versatility, he held the distinction, until last year, of being the sole male skier in the 21st century to secure podium placements across all three disciplines in professional tournaments. During his peak years, Sedlmajer dominated the World Championships, clinching two world overall titles and two runner-up finishes, showcasing his prowess at the only elite competition for overall skiers.

It’s one of the greatest tragedies of our sport that a skier of Sedlmajer’s calibre was given so few opportunities to showcase his talents. One poignant example is when he was left out of the invite list for the 2016 U.S. Masters, despite being the reigning world overall champion and the world’s number one ranked overall skier. Unfazed, he proceeded to claim victory in the U.S. Open slalom event later that year.

In 2017, Sedlmajer broke Jaret Llewellyn’s longstanding world overall record, a record that had remained unbroken since 2002. What adds to the remarkable nature of this accomplishment is the fact that he achieved this under the rules established almost two decades earlier, rules that significantly undervalued slalom in comparison to today’s standards.

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California

Chuck Stearns jumps at the 1961 World Championships in Long Beach, California (image: HSLB)

6. Chuck Stearns

Water skiing’s first ever superstar, Stearns was a household name across America during the 1960s. From 1957 to 1967, he clinched an astonishing 11 World Championships medals across all four disciplines, still one of only a handful of skiers to earn medals in slalom, tricks, jump and overall to this day. At the 1959 World Championships in Milan, he claimed the men’s overall title.

The first man to dominate at the U.S. Masters, Stearns secured overall victory four times from 1960 to 1965. Additionally, he was among the first Americans to receive an invitation to the Moomba Masters, the world’s only professional competition at the time. Stearns won the overall event on his debut visit in 1963 and followed up with an incredible showing in 1966, where he emerged victorious in the slalom, jump, and overall categories.

A truly versatile athlete, Stearns is the only skier in history to simultaneously hold top positions in both tournament skiing and ski racing. He boasts a remarkable record in the latter sport, being a 10-time winner of the Grand National Catalina Ski Race and setting the drag racing speed record at over 120 miles per hour. In an era when most competitive water skiers retired young, Stearns’ strict fitness regimen allowed him to remain at the pinnacle of the sport for over two decades.

Mike Suyderhoud takes a crash at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA

Suyderhoud takes a spill at the Cal Cup in Berkeley, CA (image: Gary Warren)

5. Mike Suyderhoud

The son of a rags-to-riches Dutch immigrant, who had served in the underground resistance during the Nazi occupation, Mike inherited his father’s tenacity and channeled it into water skiing as a young man. At 17 years old, he won his first of five World Championships, and by 18, he had set his first of three world jump records.

Suyderhoud helped the U.S. Team secure five World Championships team titles from 1967 to 1977, accumulating a total of 11 individual medals. His achievements included consecutive overall victories in 1967 and 1969, a runner-up finish (bolstered by golds in slalom and jump) in 1971, and a bronze in 1975. Domestically, he became a U.S. Masters overall champion, finally clinching the title in 1973 after six consecutive years of either second or third-place finishes. Furthermore, he claimed five consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Nationals from 1968 to 1972. Suyderhoud also achieved back-to-back victories in slalom, jump, and overall at the Moomba Masters during his visits to Melbourne. His remarkable career featured triumphs in every major tournament of his era.

World Overall Champion Mike Hazelwood

Image: Yvon le Gall

4. Mike Hazelwood

Following his triumph in the men’s overall at the 1977 World Championships, Hazelwood was a constant presence on the podium for the next six years, securing back-to-back runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1983. While jump skiing undoubtedly stood as his strongest event, Hazelwood’s versatility was exceptional, earning him membership in the exclusive club of skiers to secure World Championship medals in all four events, totaling an impressive count of 10 medals.

Within Europe, Hazelwood claimed an incredible eight consecutive European Championships titles in overall from 1976 to 1983. Furthermore, he is one of only four men to win European Championships in all four events. A fierce competitor in all conditions, Hazelwood’s tenacity shone through as he secured four consecutive overall titles at the U.S. Masters from 1978 to 1981 and an impressive five consecutive Moomba titles from 1977 to 1981. His victory list extended to every major overall tournament across the globe, solidifying his legacy as a true champion of water skiing.

Sammy Duvall water ski jumping

Duvall held No. 1 world ranking in either jump or overall for eleven consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1993.

3. Sammy Duvall

Duvall’s first major victory in overall came as a 19-year-old at the inaugural World Games in 1981, where he won gold in jump and overall. Notably, Duvall remains the sole skier with a perfect undefeated record in overall at the World Championships. He secured four consecutive overall titles from 1981 to 1987, before retiring from amateur competition following the 1987 World Championships. Duvall’s contributions were not limited to individual achievements; he played a pivotal role in the United States’ dominance in the teams competition throughout the 1980s, successfully repelling strong challenges from Australia during that decade.

Among his numerous accolades, Duvall stands as one of only two men to attain three U.S. Masters titles in a single year, with four of his impressive tally of 13 U.S. Masters titles coming in the overall event. His prowess extended to the Moomba Masters, where he secured four overall titles, including three consecutive victories from 1984 to 1986. As a U.S. Open overall champion as well, Sammy’s exceptional talents were on full display in an era predating official world records. For six consecutive years, from 1983 to 1988, he reigned as the number one ranked overall skier in the world. His scores in his final season as the world’s best, including 4@11.25m (38′ off), 8,600 points, and 61.7m (202′), would have undoubtedly set the mark had official records existed at that time.

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45

Canadian Jaret Llewellyn still walking on water at age 45 (image: Bernard Weil)

2. Jaret Llewellyn

A late bloomer in the jump event, Llewellyn’s initial success came in tricks when he won the inaugural Junior World Championships in 1986. It would take him until age 20 in 1990 to jump 50 meters (164 feet), but within two years he was jumping over 200 feet and broke his first world jump record at the U.S. Masters in 1992.

No man can match Llewellyn’s 16 World Championships medals, with majority of these coming in the overall event where he finished on the podium nine times between 1991 and 2015. His breakout performance as a 21-year-old at the 1991 World Championships was particularly memorable, as he and his older brother Kreg picked up the overall bronze and silver respectively, leading Canada to teams victory. Across his career he was up against a peak performing Patrice Martin, then Jimmy Siemers, and finally Adam Sedlmajer, and was unlucky to only finish on top of the World Championship podium twice in 2001 and 2007. He broke the world record twice, with his final record of 5@11.25m (38’ off), 10,730, and 71.7 meters (235’) standing for an incredible 14 years, 7 months, making it the longest standing world record of all time.

On the professional circuit he was a five-time U.S. Masters overall champion. In 1996, he ended the Neville family’s stranglehold on overall at the Moomba Masters and would go on to dominate the event through the late nineties. He was also a two-time U.S. Open overall champion. Unfortunately for Llewellyn, the industry turned away from overall right at the peak of his career and the event was eliminated from legacy events such as the U.S. Masters, Moomba, and U.S. Open in the early 2000s. Fittingly, he has spearheaded the WWS Overall Tour in recent years, heralding a resurgence for the discipline.

Le Petit Prince of Water Skiing

Martin is one of the finest achievements in French sport (image: Graine de Sport)

1. Patrice Martin

Known as “Le Petit Prince,” this French prodigy burst onto the water skiing scene as a teenager, securing his first World Championships victory in tricks at just 13 years old in 1979. Initially specializing in trick skiing, he gradually mastered all three disciplines throughout the 1980s and, by the decade’s end, had risen to the pinnacle of the sport.

His extraordinary collection of 10 World Championships gold medals is only exceeded by Liz Allan on the women’s side. Immovable from the top of the podium, his winning streak of six consecutive World Championships in overall from 1989 to 1999 is the longest in our sport across any discipline. The most decorated skier in the history of the World Games, Martin clinched six golds, one silver, and one bronze from 1981 to 2001. Finally claiming gold in overall at the twilight of his career when it was reintroduced after a 20-year absence at the 2001 event. Within Europe he was virtually unstoppable, winning a total of 30 European Championship golds across slalom, trick, and overall, including nine overall titles spanning from 1984 to 2001, matching Hazelwood’s record.

On the professional circuit, he proved his mettle as a Moomba Masters champion, securing the overall title five times at the U.S. Masters and reigning supreme in the U.S. Open during the 1990s, with six consecutive titles from 1992 to 1997. Even though his two strongest events, tricks and overall, were not part of the pro tour, Martin remained a regular contender, even clinching a tour stop victory in slalom in 1996, edging out formidable opponents like Andy Mapple and Wade Cox. His reign as the number one ranked overall skier in the world spanned nine consecutive seasons, from 1991 to 1999. When the IWWF began recording world overall records in the mid-1990s, Martin was the first holder and broke the record three times throughout his illustrious career. His final record, set in 2001, of 4@10.75m (39.5’ off), 11,550 points, and 62.5 meters (205’), remains a highly competitive score in the sport to this day.

Honorable Mentions:

Dorien Llewellyn

Sport can be cruel, and it’s not hard to imagine a world in which Llewellyn emerges victorious at a few additional tournaments, avoids injury, retains the world record, and ends up ahead of Poland on this list. After breaking the overall world record a month earlier, he finished 2nd in overall, winning the tricks, at the 2021 World Championships. Llewellyn’s other major victories include the 2019 and 2023 Pan American Games, the 2018 Latrobe City Invitational, and multiple stops on the WWS Overall Tour.

Felipe Miranda

The Chilean won the world overall title at his home site in 2013 and backed it up with a second title in challenging conditions at the 2017 Paris World Championships. ‘Pipe’ is also a Pan American Games overall champion and won the 2017 Latrobe City Invitational.

Javier Julio

The Argentinian secured five medals in men’s overall between 2001 and 2013, including a gold medal in 2009, and finished his career with three years as the number one ranked overall skier from 2009 to 2011 and gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.

Bruce Neville

Although primarily known as a jumper, he clinched an impressive five consecutive Moomba Masters overall titles from 1991 to 1995, matching Hazelwood’s record.

Carl Roberge

A three-time overall champion at all three major professional tournaments of his era, Roberge had great success at the Moomba Master, U.S. Masters, and U.S. Open. While never claiming the highest honors, he finished on four consecutive overall podiums at the World Championships from 1983 to 1989, including finishing second to Patrice Martin by a margin of only 6 overall points in 1989.

Mick Neville

Despite finishing on the podium at the World Championships eight times between 1981 and 1987, the elder of the Neville brothers could never quite claim the gold. He lost two of the tightest ever overall battles to Sammy Duvall in 1985 and 1987, with the margin less than 25 overall points each time. He did manage overall victories at both the U.S. and Moomba Masters.

Ricky McCormick

Featured on the podium in at least one discipline at every World Championships from 1967 to 1975, including medals in all four disciplines and runner-up finishes in overall in 1973 and 1975. McCormick won three Moomba Masters overall titles. Additionally, four of his 13 U.S. Masters titles came in overall, and he joins Sammy Duvall as the only other man to win three titles in a single year.

George Athans and Alfredo Mendoza

Both of these men deserve recognition as two-time world overall champions.

British waterskier William Asher slaloming

Quiz: Highest Winning Percentage in Men’s Pro Tournaments Since 2010

Quizzes

Quiz: Highest winning percentage in men’s professional tournaments since 2010

Image: Mommer

By RTB


3 minute play

In this quiz, you need to name the male skiers with highest winning percentage in professional tournaments since 2010.

The list has 13 skiers, all of whom have a winning percentage of greater than 10% in a single discipline competing in professional events since 2010. We have set the cut off at least ten professional tournaments in each discipline. Four skiers have winning percentages of 50% or better. We have given you the skier’s country, discipline, and winning percentage in the mentioned time period.

Data updated as of January 1, 2024

Professional water skier Corey Vaughn

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

News

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.”

2024 Tournament Water Ski Season

Five Burning Questions for the 2024 Water Ski Season

Articles

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

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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:

SlalomTricksJump
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:

SlalomTricksJump
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)