Malibu Boats Pro Tour Stop Three 2014 hit the water over the weekend of the 28th of March at Misverstand Dam, Elani Resort and what a spectacular venue they chose for the last stop! It was the first time in the history of South African Wakeboarding that a competition has been held out there and it turned out to be a big success.
It seemed that Misverstand would escape the dreaded cold front and the riders were greeted with some toasty weather clear of the nasty wind. Friday entries rolled in and practice kicked off with smooth sailing to assure everyone and to give some indication of what to expect over the rest of the weekend with regards to boat speed and a monstrous wake to invert and spin from.
Saturday started with the Novice division first on the water and one thing is for sure, the level of Novice riders is definitely on the increase – challenging one another with big Heel-side and Toe-side Wake jumps. The flat-water tricks flew out the window and got left in the youngsters division where the Under-10 riders were putting big pressure on one another as well. Sailing comfortably through flat-water tricks and occasionally kicking it up a notch with Heel-Side and Toe-Side one wake jumps. If these kids keep riding like they are, we can all look forward to a bright future for the sport in this country!
The Committee surprised everyone after PE and opened a Novice Wakeskate Division as they seemed to have seen a gap for some potential riders coming through that just wasn’t good enough to compete against the rest but passionate enough to compete and push their level of riding. Stuart Gutridge gave it horns on the water in qualifying and just beat Deidre van Niekerk but she wasn’t going to let it slide and made sure she was staying in with a shout, pushing Christopher Colborne down. These riders seemed to have the most fun out of all the divisions whilst pushing one another to do better on the water.
The Main Wakeskate Division weren’t holding back either, trying to kick each other out with massive Wake Jumps especially coming from Matti Buys. But tension on the water seemed to have some riders forgetting about their composition and although all showed high intensity; the pressure took its toll and a few scores suffered because of it. Jacques Labuschagne wowed everyone with a clean Heel Side Back Side 180 Wake to Wake and didn’t leave much room for error for the rest. The two Stuart brothers, Austin and Brandon, seemed a little unlucky on the water in qualifying and just couldn’t quite put together what they wanted.
The Ladies Division was interesting to watch as Loes Linders (Netherlands) got invited to enter the comp, and did she put some riders in their place! She stuck a clean run with massive inverts like a Tantrum, Scarecrow and Front Roll and even went for the Whirlybird at the end of her run making sure she had as little competition possible. Melissa Colborne cleaned up with non-stop 180’s and Half Cab 180’s as well as a Scarecrow. Deidre van Niekerk followed and enjoyed a good start with a clean Back Roll and a massive Elephant but took a nasty fall on a 360 and Raley. The Ladies certainly didn’t play nice on the water and left no room for error.
In the Masters division the PE Boys gave Darryn Ridgeway a good challenge. Darryn seemed to have it together in Qualifying with clean inverts from a Scarecrow, Toe Side Back Roll, Back Roll and 180’s and kicked Warwick Claassen down to second – who certainly didn’t hold back and went larger than ever. Between the two of them they made sure they left the rest of the riders trailing in their wake, so to speak.
Open Men saw Shaun Faccio back on the water for the first time this season, brushing his competition aside with clean Mobes and Spins. Dylan Mitchell tried his best to match Shaun’s Mobes but just couldn’t pull it out of the bag. Ryan Durham was close on their heels and if Shaun and Dylan don’t keep a close eye, he might soon dethrone the pair of them!
The future of the sport was up next with the Junior Men division. It’s always interesting when a dark horse with new tricks come into play and surprise the top rider who thought he was still in the lead with his old bag of tricks. Jacques Labuschagne is a natural on the water but new rider Louis Schutte will be taking over soon – an ex slalom skier that is showing the wakeboarders that he has excellent skill and will not hold back from becoming one of the best riders in the country. Best we keep an eye out for this kid, because that gut feeling is saying that he will be around next season to clean up.