Today was an eleven hour Prelims challenge in all three Waterski disciplines in glorious sunshine for many of the major stars here at the Sesena Waterski Centre in Spain. Senior I Ladies Slalom came first. With 15 athletes from 9 Countries chasing 8 World Trophy Finals places and 5 EAME Finals places, there was no room for error. The entire pace was set by Brenda Baldwin (USA) by scoring 4 buoys on the 12m line / 35 off ? and she was first on the water this morning. Nobody could match this. Closest was Olga Gubarenko (RUS) with just one buoy less. They will have a real duel in the weekend Finals.
Next came Senior 3 Ladies and Mens Tricks. With only two Ladies in their division, both went through to the Finals. In the Mens division, 22 athletes had to fight hard. Best of all was Denmark?s Lars Arp Hansen with 3390 points ? the defending EAME Champion and World Trophy silver medalist in 2006. A special cheer was also raised for two very experienced skiers, 68 year old Hal Hamilton (USA) and Edgardo Martin (ARG) who had already made it to the World Trophy Slalom Finals in yesterday?s Prelims. Edgardo Martin trains in Buenos Aires with World Cup star Javier Julio. Australia?s Alan Dagg also made it through.
Senior 1 Mens Jump came next. To the delight of all, suddenly a gusty head wind arrived for these Prelims ! With 14 contestants, four exceeded the 50m mark / 164ft today and all won World Trophy Finals places ? Danny Budd (GBR), Mark Shaw (USA), Gennadi Guralia (GEO) and Thoralf Schipner (GER). Ireland?s Barry Galvin won a run-off for the last Finals position against Raoul Gabriel of France.
In Senior 3 Ladies Jump, the two contestants moved to the Finals ? Leza Harrison (USA) and Gabriele Hueller (GER).
Then came a major decision point of the afternoon. Could the 28 contestants in Senior 3 and 2 Mens Jump complete their Prelims before daylight disappeared ! Chief Judge Dimos Alexopoulos (GRE) decided to go for it. He was correct and we made it with about ten minutes of daylight to spare ! In Senior 3, the outstanding performances came from Wolfgang Senge (GER) 34.8m, George Ward (GBR) 32.9m and Pierre Plouffe (CAN) 31.8m. Again, the Finals will be just as close in view of the tight battles today.
We finished on a very high note. All looked forward to seeing the Waterski legends Mike Morgan (USA) and Franz Oberleitner (AUT) in action in Senior 2 division. They did not disappoint. Franz Oberleitner was the only one to exceed 50m with a distance of 51.0m. Mike Morgan only needed to exceed 33.6m for a Finals place and once he landed 39.9m on his first jump, he wisely headed for the dock. It was a long day but also delivered an impressive number of scores which were far beyond the 2006 Senior World Trophy and EAME
Hal Hamilton USA
Spectators at Sesena