Friday, 24th. August 2001

Waterskiing history was made here today at our World Games !

For the first time ever, the sports of Tournament, Barefoot and Wakeboard all competed on the same stage and gave the distinct message that this is a formula worth exploring a lot further. It was an exhausting day – but also a great day.

The action began at Ogata Lake near Akita at 8.00am sharp. The timetable for the day included Barefoot Slalom, Tournament Women’s Tricks, Men’s Slalom, Men’s Jump and Women’s Wakeboard. We called the last Wakeboard Raley at 6.30pm ! To make this happen as smoothly as it did took some exceptional talent and the three Chief Judges were the key to the result. Dimos Alexopoulos for Tournament, Claire Willard for Barefoot and Colin Hart for Wakeboard, all made this complex formula work like clockwork. There again to enjoy the results was Ron Froelhlich, President of the International World Games Association. Since sports were taking place at 20 other venues in the World Games, it was good to see him on site twice in the past 24 hours.

‘And now for some of today’s Preliminary Round highlights. In Tournament, the cream rose to the top again. In Men’s Slalom, Patrice Martin took top slot in tricky windless hot and sticky conditions with a score of 2 buoys on the 10.75 line – just ahead of Britain’s Jason Seels (5.5/11.25) and Michael Mc Cormick (2/11.25) from the USA. Twenty one athletes from 15 Countries all found these hot conditions a real test – but four achieved personal best performances - Park Jae Hong and Je Min Son from Korea, Frederic Halt from Switzerland and Japan’s Saburo Tsuruki. In Men’s Jump, it was the turn of Jason Seels to dominate with a distance of 61.2m – against George Hatzis from Greece and Jochen Luers from Germany, both with 59.2m. Ladies Tricks saw Rhoni Barton from the USA back in full form with a score of 6950 – just ahead of Russia’s Elena Milakova (6720) and Britain’s Sarah Gatty-Saunt with 5180. The next time they meet will be at the World Championships in Recetto in Italy in a few weeks time.

The Barefooters impressed all with their quality of management and organisation – always in the right place at the right time. In Ladies Slalom, one bright star was in a league of her own. As expected, South Africa’s Nadine De Villiers is untouchable in her present form. Her score of 8.6 was 3.6 ahead of Rachel George from the USA. In Men’s Slalom, one bright star did likewise. Keith St.Onge from the USA was outstanding with a run of 13.5 against Terry Gregory from Germany who scored 11.3.

Wakeboard arrived as the sun set on the Japan Sea towards Korea – and this created a great buzz from bank to bank. Seven Women from four countries treated us all to some great Tantrums, Back Rolls, Raleys, Scarecrows and Toe Side 540’s. The results will be announced later tonight.

We start tomorrow, Saturday, at 6.30am ! That means a healthy Japanese breakfast at 5.15am. All the Preliminaries will be finished by sunset – and then we are ready for Sunday’s Finals. We are going to bed right now !

Des Burke-Kennedy