Nic Rapa and Zahra Kell Take Podium at Moomba Masters

The 63rd Nautique Moomba Masters Presented by GM Marine took place in Melbourne, Australia, March 7-11.
Zahra Kell with first place check
Zahra Kell, who rides for Team Nautique, basks in the glow of her first place win at the 63rd Nautique Moomba Masters Presented by GM Marine. Courtesy Zahra Kell

The Moomba Masters marks the official kickoff to the competitive season for world’s best boat riders. As the northern hemisphere looks forward to the warmer months on the water, invited athletes make the trek down under to the Yarra River in the city of Melbourne, Victoria. 2024 marked the 63rd year of the tournament that coincides with the Melbourne Moomba Festival where over 100,000 attendees enjoy parades, carnivals, concerts and of course, the top waterski and wakeboard athletes competing for the first large prize purse of the year.

Preseason favorites going into the Moomba Masters were predicated on a healthy and injury-free Nic Rapa, Cory Teuneissen and 2023’s Pro Wakeboard Tour overall winner Tyler Higham on the men’s side with Meagan Ethell and Zahra Kell on the women’s side. Knowing that the athletes put in the work in the gym and on the water over the course of the off-season, coming out of the gate with a strong showing helps to set the tone for the next few months of competition while making a statement to the other riders that you are a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately for Australian rider Cory Teuneissen, an injury kept him from putting down a run that typically vaults him into the finals. With five World Champion titles to his name, and a strong and focused work ethic, injuries from time to time are the only thing keeping him from the podium. 

Another Aussie known for his focus and dedication and making it difficult for other riders when he is in top form, Nic Rapa entered 2024 with somewhere in the range of 25 professional wins under his belt. When asked how he approached this season with his years of winning experience behind him, Rapa confidently stated “This year feels no different to other years. I feel if it’s not broken don’t fix it!” That over simplifies how much hard work he has put in over the years. Diving a little deeper he admits, “Obviously always honing my craft and sharpening my tools, but I think working hard and staying motivated is huge the older I get. Always trying to keep testing my resilience,  mental and physical, and more than anything just make sure I am loving what I am doing. Always.”

Nic Rapa with Moomba Masters trophy
Nic Rapa is all smiles after winning the first stop of the 2024 World Series in Melbourne at the 63rd Nautique Moomba Masters Presented by GM Marine. Courtesy Nic Rapa

Nic’s finals run consisted of many of the tricks one comes to expect from him with solid double flips (including a double indy tantrum), grabbed mobe 5s and his signature backside 720 into the flats. Dropping a run like this in the first big contest of the year, with sometimes less-than-favorable riding conditions, in front of a packed shoreline, it is no fluke that he made it look effortless. 

One of the top storylines from the 2023 season was the reemerged powerhouse rider Zahra Kell in the pro women’s division. Kell had taken a few years off from competing only to return and dominate. This year, with the pressure on in the finals after Mary Morgan Howell started off with two standup passes, Kell impressed the judges enough to take the win. When one of those judges is one of women’s wakeboarding top athletes of all time, fellow Aussie and legend of the sport. Amber Wing, it certainly can’t make the nerves easier to manage. “The final was so close,” said Wing. “They all rode clean and strong. It was so great to see such strength in the women’s field. To see top placements go to Aussie heros Zahra and Nic was an absolute highlight of the Moomba Festival.”