FRANCE DELIVERS PERFECT 2005 WORLD CUP START WITH $ 500,000 CHALLENGE AND 18,000 SPECTATORS
Scorching sunshine, great water conditions, dazzling laser and fireworks displays, combined with the talents of some of the world’s best Wakeboard Riders from thirteen countries, gave the World Cup a perfect start.
Picturesque Enghien-les-Bains has the closest thermal lake site to Paris – just 14km from the Champs Elysees. High Rollers also know it as the home of Casino Barriere – one of Europe’s largest. It is also renowned for some of its past residents – Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas and Frederic Chopin !
Following a very successful Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series in 2004, this Enghien Wakeboard Stop was again the first of this year’s global tour. Mayor Philippe Sueur warmly welcomed everybody back to his City for this second time. The atmospheric Opening Ceremony included a truly international Riders Boat Parade. The stage was set for a memorable battle on these pristine Spa waters. With a total Cash Prize of £500,000 for the 2005 Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series, we were at the starting gate !
Saturday was all about qualifications. These included the Women’s Qualifier, three Men’s Heats, plus the Women’s last Chance Qualifier. All eyes were on the Defending World Cup Wakeboard Champion, Daniel Watkins (AUS) and IWSF World Wakeboard Champions Philip Soven (USA) and Robi Rendo (ARG).
For the Pro Women, the contenders included Riders from Great Britain, USA, Argentina, Sweden and France. The top three would make it through – leaving just one place for the later Last Chance Qualifier. Cathy Williams (USA) and Robi Rendo (ARG) both made it to the Podium last year. This experience helped them to secure the two second highest scores on Saturday. Williams did not have to contend with six stitches in her hand as a year ago ! Top of the pile was the talented Louise Moore (GBR) – leaving the two French Riders Lauriane Masson and Estelle Tuaz to battle it out with Caroline Jannsson (SWE) for the last Finals place. Cheered on by the big enthusiastic crowd, neither French Rider could match the qualifying score of Swedish Rider, Caroline Jansson.
For the Pro Men from eleven countries it was a whole new ball game this year. In each of the three Heats, only the top two Riders would advance to Sunday’s Head-to-Head Final. The rest would have to wait for the Last Chance Qualifier. With the high quality of the entries, all sensed it was going to be a real nail biter.
In Heat 1, New Zealander Jeff Weatherall’s stunning performance earned the highest score of the day (64.56). Having taken third place on the 2004 Enghien-les-Bains podium, his ambitions were high. Emerging with him from this heat was Brett Eisenhauer (AUS). In Heat 2, the IWSF World Champion Philip Soven (USA) reminded us all why he holds that title by taking the top score. Swiss Rider Cyril Cornaro took the second spot. In Heat 3, the surprise was that Wakeboard World Cup Champion Daniel Watkins (AUS) just barely managed to steal the second spot from past World Champion Darin Shapiro (USA). In this Heat, Canadian Rusty Malinosky surprised all by putting in the best performance. The rest would have to wait for the Men’s Last Chance Qualifier.
With the MasterCraft X Star Official Tow Boat ready at the Dock at Noon on Sunday, Managing Director Ian Birdsall shook hands with Official World Cup Driver Martin James. The 32C temperatures created a perfect Finals atmosphere. Right from the start, the Pro Women’s Finals boiled down to a major battle between IWSF World Champion Robi Rendo (ARG) and the very experienced Cathy Williams (USA). On Composition, which included a perfect 360 degree rotation, Rendo had the edge. However, Williams’ off-season training with the Pro Men had a big impact on her impressive Intensity score – enough in fact to give her the Enghien-les Bains 2005 World Cup title plus US$4,000. With a 3rd place last year and now the 2005 title, she will be tough to beat in the next World Cup Stop in Moscow.
With 18,000 spectators on the Lac D’Enghien Promenade we had more drama ! The one minute turnaround time between Riders meant that Chief Judge Colin Hart (GBR) had to ensure that the Rules were strictly applied to fit the time schedule. Past World Champion, Darin Shapiro (USA) somehow forgot to wear his compulsory Bib – and so was disqualified – as per the Rule Book !
The new format Head-to-Head Pro Men’s Finals produced some of the highest quality riding ever seen at a major international competition. Defending World Cup Champion, Daniel Watkins (AUS) was unlucky on this occasion to be drawn against Philip Soven, current IWSF World Champion. Soven’s 67.45 score gave him a ticket out of Round 1. Josh Sanders (AUS) who came second last year, got through by beating fellow Australian Brett Eisenhauer. New Kids-on-the-block and Wakeboard sensations. Andrew Adkinson (USA) and Rusty Malinosky (CAN) also made it through. Adkinson deserved a medal right there as his equipment got lost in transit and just arrived before these Finals – a big test for the nerves.
Finals Round 2 Head to Head saw the cream rise to the top once again. It was Phillip Soven (USA) and Andrew Adkinson (USA) who beat all to face each other for the big 1st Place purse of US$ 15,000. Both performed to their limits and earned the highest scores of the day. Adkinson’s 75.45 score was just two points short of the stunning display of the new Enghien-les-Bains 2005 Wakeboard World Cup Champion, Phillip Soven – and gave a perfect start to the 2005 World Cup series.
FINALS RESULTS – PRO WOMEN
1. Cathy Williams (USA)
2. Robi Rendo (ARG)
3. Louise Moore (GBR)
4. Caroline Jansson (SWE)
FINALS RESULTS – PRO MEN
1. Philip Soven (USA)
2. Andrew Adkison (USA)
3. Josh Sanders (AUS)
4. Rusty Malinosky (CAN)
5. Cyril Cornaro (CH)
5. Brett Eisenhauer (AUS)
5. Daniel Watkins (AUS)
5. Jeff Weatherall (NZL)