Pulling the event was the MasterCraft X-Star with its magical wake, beautiful sleek looks and huge wake offering the perfect ride for the 90 plus tows run on both days of the event. Behind the wheel, we were also treated to the experienced hand of MasterCrafts own Martin James, back in the UK and behind a UK contest wheel for the first time in a while, giving everyone a supreme drive.
Red Bull brought the party once again this year, with the DJ truck and tents for shade and not forgetting beverages to give us all wings. Johnny Came and Bro Clothing’s Nick Coates were on hand to commentate throughout the weekend adding the info and entertainment to the spectacle on the water, bringing the event together that bit more.
The knock out format along with the Wake Score calculation system (created by Wakeboard UK, enabling live scoring from the boat, meant for instant results at the end of every heat only adding to the palpable atmosphere. Also, the entire weekend’s drama was played out through the brand new, online, wakeboard community, event and scoring app, WakeScope. This allowed the entire wakeboard planet to keep in tune with the UK Nationals as it unfolded. Whether at the lake or not, results were at anyone’s fingertips. What an awesome way to promote an event and the sport as a whole.
As always, the subjective IWWF wakeboard scoring system was used, implemented by three judges in the boat with Graham Creedy taking charge as chief judge to make sure the entire weekend ran fairly and smoothly.
Over the course of the two day event, it was hard to take your eyes of the water, the level of riding leaping ahead year on year and the intensity of the action increasing as the different divisions rolled on through. As always qualifying rounds ran on Saturday necessary because of the big numbers signing up for this seminal boat contest.
There is always a good amount of nervousness in the air when it comes to the riders mindset such is the importance placed on a great performance at the Nationals. Adding to this is the fact that all training has been working towards this very weekend for most. This, however, is set against a backdrop of incredible support for absolutely every rider not only family and friends lining the shore but also fellow competitors stood on the dock. These contests really are something to behold as far as a spectator and it’s great to see both contingents support crew and riders growing ana growing from season to season.
If Saturday wasn’t exciting enough the evening brought the Double-Up showdown where all the top Open Men would attempt to get seriously airborne. Jorge Gill stepped up to the plate and hit the water first, laying down the gauntlet with a stomped heelside 720. The efforts to beat this and take the cash prize led to many a thrill and spill but Jorge stayed firmly out in front to take his very first Nationals Double-Up contest win.
One day down and one to go, it was finals time!
The Groms (under 11 s) got us started and it’s always so awesome to watch these little guys on the water, giving their all on what is an intimidating wake and for most, an intimidating setting. It takes an awful lot of courage to charge at a wake that’s bigger than you are! Louis Overmeer took everyone’s breath away to claim 1 st for the second year in arow, Alex Wilson grabbing 2nd and Joseph Humphries 3rd.
In the Boys (under 15s) there was a battle royal between Luca Kidd and Matty Muncey with no daylight between their performances coming into the final. Despite next level riding by the entire division, Luca edged in front to take his first National title with style and tech in abundance. Stalled, melon cab 360, TS 540 were just a couple of tricks seeing him squeeze ahead of Matty Muncey who took second and Luke Pearson in 3rd, taking his first ever podium position!
Our Junior Women’s division boasts some European medal holders including the 2013 reigning National champ, Katie Batchelor, who also happens to be the reigning European champion as well. An incredibly competitive year yet again in this age group making it a tight call in every round.
However, it was Katie Batchelor to retain her title ahead of Melissa Lock taking 2nd and Charlotte Millward in 3rd.
Junior Men riding is always mind blowing and sees some of the toughest competition at whatever event you’re considering. This year’s Nationals were no different with things made difficult for the judges but an incredible number of high end manoeuvres, including grabbed inverts and big spins. Bryce Corrand who’s training in the US and on the lakes of south France secured top spot ahead of Jeff Haddon with Davie Overmere adding to the Overmeer family haul with his first podium finish, grabbing third.
The Amateur Men’s division is in place as testament to the all inclusive attitude of the UK boat wakeboarding scene where events like the National Champs make sure there are in roads for all levels. If you’re not eligible for any of the younger age categories but are not quite at the rather high level of the Open divisions, then that’s where the Amateur category comes into play. James Cook laying it down and taking 1st. Just behind him in second was Samuel Smith and Graeme Ardley in 3rd.
This year the Masters divisions came out in their droves including the addion of a Masters 2 division. It was especially great to see such a big field in the Masters Women, making the win all the sweet for Emma Jane Pickard’s as it did for the 2nd place finisher, Wide-a-Wake’s own, Sarah Kingdom in 2nd and Helen Carroll in 3rd.
In the first of our Masters Men divisions Matt Crowhurst took gold for a second year and the Phillips twins, Richard and Ross, took 2nd and 3rd respectively. In Masters Men 2 Rene Overmeer rounded off the mantelpiece finery for his family from the day with a 3rd place finish, after Mark Osmond in 2nd and the new champ, Mark Goldsmith, sitting atop the field.
Open Ladies saw young Megan Barker blow us all away, again, taking down her second UK National title on the trot and doing so with a UK contest first, a mobe landed in a UK contest run. Megz is the first girl to stomp one in the Nationals, riding away cleanly from a skeezer. It’s no mean feat to get ahead of the likes of Robbi Rendo either, especially with one of her best ever runs laid down. Rounding off the top three, I (Nancy Creedy) was more than a little stoked to get third alongside these two amazing riders.
An Open Men contest including qualifying, last chance qualifying, semi-finals and a six man final, meant there was a whole lot of riding in between each of the UK and Ireland’s best and the podium places. Dan Nott and Sam Carne had their work cut out with the young guns Edd Biundeii and Jorge Gill hungry for the title but with the current industry vibe suggesting it was very much more likely now than ever before. Not forgetting the style and tech in abundance through the rest of the field such as Jack Hammersley and the Irish crew of David Coates and Paul Johnston.
The riding was intense with highly technical moves going down from every one of the six riders. KGBs, dum-dum’s, batwings to blind, a toeside indy backside off-axis 3 from Dan, a mental skeezer 540 from Jorge, 7s a plenty from all and the first ever contest backside 7 from Edd Blundell. Although an incredibly tight call between the top four, the win went to super talented Jorge Gill who couldn’t be more deserving of his first ever National Open Men’s title. Right behind him was Sam Carne in 2nd and Edd Blundell in 3rd making the Open Men’s podium for the very first time.
There is always a sense of togetherness at these events, with an incredible community of family, friends, riders, coaches and fans of wakeboarding all sharing a huge love of the sport. Although trophies carry dust, Memories last forever. However, these memories wouldn’t be possible, without a good few people so huge thanks to them; Wakeboard UK committee and Chairman Peter Gill, judges Graham Creedy, Colin Hart, Matt Crowhurst, Jonny Lodge, the calculators Sue Creedy and Ann Hart. Jetty marshals, OIlie Huntsman & his Quayside crew and not forgetting all the sponsors; Mastercraft Boats UK, Red Bull, O’Neill Wetsuits, Nectar Sunglasses, Chain Of Wakes, Extreme Gene and Bro Clothing.
The 2014 Nationals did not disappoint and we can only imagine the levels of riding to come in 2015. See you all next year!
12 Aug 2014