The penultimate stop of the European leg of the Waterski Pro Tour took place in Greece over the weekend and it was a return to Kaiafas for a second consecutive year.
The organisers of the Kaiafas Battle lived up to their promise of laying on a show for competitors and spectators that exceeded last season’s mega party vibe. Even so, the dancing girls and guys, drummers, jugglers and live music on the start dock could not eclipse the incredible display on the the water.
All the big names among the pro men were there but the women’s field was missing two leading ladies: Regina Jaquess (USA) – who has not made the trip to Europe – and Whitney McClintock Rini (CAN).
Unusually, the format for both men and women was for three preliminary rounds rather than two, taking the pressure off those disappointed with their first round.
There was no such issue for the top three men, however. For the first time ever in competition, three consecutive skiers ran 10.25m (41’ off). Will Asher, Freddie Winter and Nate Smith all went on to score 1 @ 9.75m (43’ off) in round one. With their spots in the eight-man final secured, it was not surprising that all chose to preserve their energy and sit out one of the elimination rounds. A special mention also goes to Rob Hazelwood for getting a season’s best and equalling his PB of 4 @ 10.25m in round two in very windy conditions.
There was less pressure on the women, all eight of whom would automatically progress to the final, but there was no sign of them holding back. The defending Kaiafas champion, Jaimee Bull (CAN) scored 1 and 1.5 @ 10.25m in the first two rounds to secure top seeding while Allie Nicholson (USA) gave the performance of her life, joining the super elite by running 10.75m (39.5’ off) for the first time and setting a new PB of 1 @ 10.25m in round two.
In the women’s final the top three seeds held their positions to take the top three spots on the podium. Jaimee Bull was crowned Queen of Kaiafas again with 5 @ 10.75m. It was her third win in Europe this season, two of which have been on the Waterski Pro Tour. Allie Nicholson was second with 4 @ 10.75m – her fourth consecutive podium. And, in only her second competition back after a long spell away from the pro scene, Manon Costard (FRA) was third with 2 @ 10.75m.
In the men’s final the leader’s sofa looked like collapsing under the weight of the four skiers who jointly held the lead right up until the last two skiers out. Sacha Descuns (FRA), Rob Hazelwood (GBR), Thomas Degasperi (ITA) and defending Kaiafas Champion Will Asher (GBR) all scored 3 @ 10.25m. Then Nate Smith (USA) went out and cruised through 10.25m to score 1 @ 9.75m for the second time over the weekend. Freddie Winter (GBR) was last off the dock but he didn’t get the start he needed to run 10.25m and he became the fifth finalist to score 3 buoys on that line length. So Smit followed up last week’s victory at Lacanau by being crowned King of Kaiafas. Winter was second and Asher third on countback based on their preliminary round scores.
Next weekend is the final stop of the European leg of the Waterski Pro Tour. Join us at San Gervasio in Italy.