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2009 Season Report

PWT1, Riviera Aquatic Club, Vereeniging 31-1 February 2009. We had 27 entries of which 4 were international riders, three from Italy and one from Ireland. What was noticed was that the rest of the divisions had a poor turnout except for the novice division and that of the open men division. The Novice division had a total of eight riders which is very promising for the growth of the sport. The open men was a nice division 14 riders and consisted of three heats, the riding was of a very high standard and for the little spectators that did attend it was a great spectacle. Due to the current economic situation sponsorship was hard to find and at the end we had to rely on the parents. The boat was sponsored by Tige – The Faccio’s, Trophies – The Durham’s, Fuel and Prize Money – SAWBA.

PWT2, Phisantekraal, Cape Town 21-22 March 2009. We had 32 riders. It was very disappointing considering last year we had about 60 riders. I think one of the main reasons was that the date for the event was changed at the last minute and it happened to coincide with university exams. The event as a whole went very well, we had a nice mix and managed to open most of the divisions. The only division that was very disappointing was the ladies with only two entries. Mark Burton-Moore from sport unlimited managed to get prizes sponsored except for the open men and the fuel for the boat which SAWBA for.

PWT3 The Billabong South African Wakeboard Open Presented by Kustom Footwear, Riviera Aquatic Club, Vereeniging 4-5 April 2009. We had 41 entries of which one was an international rider from Ireland. What was noted was some familiar faces in the novice division which had six riders. We managed to open the ladies and junior men division which is promising. The Saturday evening we had an awards dinner where the colours certificates were handed out and the squad for Worlds in Korea was announced. The event as a whole ran smoothly. Billabong agreed to sponsor prize money, Tige- the boats, SAWBA the trophies and fuel.

Tich Mitchell (SAWBA-Cape Town) organised a winter training camp in July at Boardalign Wakeboard School, which is situated on the Umtamvuna River in Port Edward. About 10 riders attended this winter training camp. It gave theriders the opportunity of training and riding as a team. Great success was achieved by the professionalism of the management and the coaching, and was definitely a worthwhile exercise.

World Games-Taiwan: Shaun Faccio was selected and given a wonderful opportunity to compete in the 2009 World Games. SASCOC had allocated each athlete a further R20 000 for training. Shaun used this money to travel and train in the Wakeboard capital of the world, Orlando, Florida, USA. Not only did this give Shaun the opportunity to improve his riding, but it also let him experience what it was like riding, with so many top class athletes every day. If you are a wake boarder in Orlando, all you do is eat, sleep and wake board.

“The opening ceremony was unbelievable. The energy an athlete experiences with all 120 Team Members is something one cannot explain. In my event we had 20 of the world’s top riders, the best rider from each country. In the Quarterfinals I had a nice heat. I was last off the dock so I could watch the guys before me. I knew what I had to do so I put a safe clean clear run together. I was confident that I was going through. The scores came out and I missed it by 0.5 of a point. I couldn’t believe it but I was lucky there was LCQ, last chance qualify. I laid my pass down this time, and qualified first 20 points ahead of the rest. Semi Finals, I had such a hard heat with 6 riders and only 3 going through to Finals. There was no playing it safe in this round so I decided to go all out. I landed both my passes and qualified 2nd, 2 points behind (current World Champion) Andrew Adkison. I was so happy. One more stage to go and that’s the finals. So with the top 3 guys in each heat going through, we had a final of 6. I was seeded third in the finals. I went out and fell twice on the same trick.(Pete Rose) which I don’t ever fall on. I was disappointed but at the same time happy I made it to get in finals of 6th. I ended up in 6th position as I only did 3 tricks. The competition was amazing with so many spectators, an experience I will never forget. I really want to thank SASCOC for making this possible as well as my sponsors Billabong, Von Zipper, K-Swiss, Nixon, Ronix, Skull Candy and my Family. I am now off to Korea for the 2009 World Championship followed by an invite only European competition in Italy.”

To conclude, we recently had a meeting with Don Shead over Skype who was in Australia and Mike Shead of Ski World, Benoni. Don was also experiencing a decline in the number of competitors at the local events in Australia, what they had done was to have a cross over event. A classical skier event crossed with a wakeboard event. In the morning everyone would slalom and in the afternoon everyone would wake board. The classical skiers would have the opportunity of using their trick skis or a wake board and the same would apply for the wake boarders. What this would do would build the comradeship between the two disciplines, and also bring the numbers up at the events. He also stressed the fact that the top athletes need to take more responsibility in marketing themselves as well as changing the perception that companies have of the sport.

I would like to thank the Federation and SASCOC on behalf of the SAWBA for everything they have done for Wakeboarding.

Regards Darryn Ridgway (SAWBA)

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