The EYRES Action Sport Games Mandurah turned out to be the perfect stage for launching the 33rd World Cup stop for waterski and wakeboard. It was also the first stop ever to be staged in Australia. At the closing ceremony, Mayor Paddi Creevey confirmed that this is part of a four-year agreement with the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). The event is supported by the State Government through Eventscorp's Regional Events Program, which is funded by Royalties for Regions.
As a World Cup location, Mandurah is impressive. Surrounded by magnificent waterfront homes, first class restaurants, blue skies, 30C temperatures, pelicans, dolphins and a very experienced local waterski and wakeboard team, this event will certainly grow and grow over the coming years. MasterCraft, the official boat suppliers, moored their own VIP Cruiser right at the starting dock area.
On the water, spills and thrills captured the imagination of the enormous crowds on site. As the weekend coincided with the Channel 7 Annual Crab Fest, the party atmosphere added greatly to the World Cup impact. The TV crews, helicopter camera and webcast presentation completed the World Cup media arrangements.
In wakeboard, 20 men and 10 women battled for six finals places. Past World Champion Robbie Rendo (ARG) was unlucky not to make the cut. With two Australian riders making it through, young Bec Gange and seasoned campaigner Amber Wing, got a well-deserved ovation. Miku Asai from Kagoshima in Japan also made it through. She took third place at the World Cup stop in Kuching, Malaysia. Much to the delight of the crowded waterfront, Bec Gange exceeded all expectations. She took the bronze medal in the finals. Amber Wing took the silver medal to add to her World Cup gold medal in Linyi, China, giving Australia two major successes today. However, the winner showed why she has dominated the World Cup in Sarawak, Malaysia, Chuncheon, South Korea, Doha, Qatar and others. Raimi Merrit (USA) at just 18 years of age was again in a league of her own in taking this first Mandurah World Cup title.
In the men's wakeboard battle, 20 riders were whittled down to just six places. Ireland's David O'Caoimh caused a sensation by making it to the top on this, his third, World Cup experience. Only World Champion Harley Clifford AUS could outperform him in the early heats. The finals included the six best riders from Great Britain, USA, Japan, Ireland and Australia. As the last event of the weekend, which at one time had four dolphins watching from the sidelines, all eyes were on Harley Clifford. He has won all of the recent World Cup stops. David O'Caoimh was second last off the dock having seen Shota Tezuka (JPN) put in a stunning performance of 80.21 points. However, it was Steel Lafferty (USA) who got closest with 76.57 points before Clifford took to the stage. As ever, his performance was extraordinary gaining perfect scores from all judges to take the gold medal. Tezuka took silver and Lafftery the bronze.
Men and women shortboard featured the very best in the world today. These included world record holder Clementine Lucine (FRA), World Champion Natalia Berdnikova (BLR), World Champion and world record holder Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) and US Masters Champion Jimmy Siemers (USA). The women were first out. Causing a sensation, Natalia Berdnikova went down early and did not make it to the Finals. However, Maria Camila Linares (COL) impressed all with the highest semi-final score of 6840 points. The four finalists featured France, Australia, Colombia and USA. While Danyelle Bennett (USA) set the pace with her score of 5810, when world record holder Clementine Lucine arrived, she too was clearly in a league of her own on this occasion. Her gold medal score of 7540 was 1700 points ahead of Bennett who took silver. Linares took a well deserved bronze.
The men's shortboard field of 14 athletes was reduced to six finalists representing France, Belarus and USA. As ever, the power of young French shortboarding was very clear for all to see. Both Pierre Ballon and Alexandre Poteau broke the 9,000 barrier. They won the bronze and silver medals with just the new world record holder remaining on the dock. Aliaksei Zharnasek took no chances in the choppy waters. While he is capable of a 12,570 point score, his 10,160 was enough on this occasion to take the gold medal.
For extreme sports fans, the jump event at Mandurah certainly supplied enough thrills and spills to capture the respect of all. As the nearby pristine Indian Ocean can often deliver warm breezes and testing water surfaces here, the men and women jumpers had to adjust to the conditions as best they could. As ever, those who do adjust best on these occasions get to the podium. Distances are really not relevant. In the women's event and true to form, the world jump record holder Natalia Berdnikova made the adjustments and took the gold medal. Closest to her was Maj Lund Jepsen (DEN) who took silver and showed once again that Denmark is a world power in this discipline. At just 18 years of age and with little World Cup experience, Lauren Morgan (USA) beat a very talented field to take the bronze medal.
The men's jump event saw some spectacular crashes and a few passes. Igor Morozov (RUS) brought gasps from the thousands of spectators, but escaped his crash with a few bruises. Again, those who adjusted best captured the World Cup titles. Freddy Krueger (USA) proved again that his talents are rare. He outperformed the field by 12 meters! The very experienced Scot Ellis (USA) did likewise to take the silver medal. Felipe Miranda (CHI) continues to improve with every contest. In capturing bronze, he is one to watch for the future.
The highly committed Mandurah team is already working on refinements for 2013 and that is only 364 days away!