The first ever SA Masters series and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial championships were held at the picturesque Thornlea Dam in the Tala Valley at the beginning of May.
Capitalising on the public holiday and the ideal weather conditions that the site enjoys around this time of year, the tournaments proved a great success and were filled with personal bests, records and great results.
The KZN champs, beginning on the Wednesday, were held in absolutely perfect weather and water conditions. The ramp, which had just been resurfaced, gave skiers a quick, hard surface with plenty of spring, resulting in Matthew Nieuwstad (WP) achieving a season best jump of 44.8 metres. The competition between KZN’s Tyron Stroberg and Nieuwstad continues to be neck and neck for the overall title, with Nieuwstad pipping Stroberg to the post in tricks and ramp, giving him the winning overall spot in the Open Men division.
Hannah de Jongh (GP), who skis with her father Dennis, achieved an astonishing 2 370 points in tricks – a pending South African record for the young skier in the under-14 girls division.
Another highlight of the tournament was Nicholas Stegmann (WP) who won the under-12 boys slalom and came second in the Masters. Other KZN skiers who also took the honours of the day were Dylan Lowe and Jordan Silver who came first and second respectively in the under-14 boys slalom, while older brother Tristan Silver won the under-17 division and achieved a personal best in slalom in the Masters.
James Stokes continued the winning streak for KZN with a first place in the under-21 men’s division, skiing into 12 metres in both rounds. The top three positions in the slalom Open men division went to KZN skiers with Jared Fisher in first with a score of 3 @ 58 on a 12 metre rope, Tyron Stroberg scored 2.50 @ 58 on 12 and Travis Fischer came in third with a score of 2 @ 12 – showing just how tight the competition is in this division.
The competition is also hot in the senior divisions, with South African skiers currently holding both Europe, Africa and World records. Gauteng’s Lizette Bekker, the current world champion in the 45 and over ladies division, and Jan Johnson, the Europe Africa slalom record holder, both performed at their best and once again took the honours at the KZN champs.
The Masters, which followed the KZN tournament, was judged on the points difference of individual scores to the current world records, meaning that skiers from all age divisions were able to participate. Jan Johnson, skiing at the peak of her career, walked away with the title and was closely followed by Nicholas Stegmann in second position and KZN’s Vaughan Adams in third.
Tournament organiser Eric Cornhill, who is the brains behind the Masters series which will remain venue specific, is looking forward to growing the Masters into an invitational event which will attract international waterskiers as well as the cream of the South African waterski fraternity. The tournament will always be held at the end of the South African waterski season and the start of the international season to maximise attendance for skiers worldwide. Eric said, “South African waterskiers always benefit from exposure to international competition, both from training and motivation, and we are aiming at securing sponsors for this event which will allow us to take it to the next level. We have already been informed that Andy Mapple, who is arguably the best waterskier the world has ever known, has indicated his attendance at the 2014 event. His presence at the event is an enormous boost to the tournament and we are looking forward to growing this competition into the highlight of the South African waterski calendar.”
The worldwide ski scene remains highly competitive and the senior divisions have produced remarkable records over the past few years. The Senior Worlds, which was held at Thornlea Dam in 2006 was an indicator of the strength of the division…