On Memorial Day weekend, the 61st Nautique Masters presented by GM Marine made history by implementing Equal Pay since the sport of Wakeboarding was first included in 1994. To receive an invitation to participate in the gender inclusive contest is considered an honor since “Only the world’s most elite athletes compete at the Masters!”
The prestigious contest is like the Wimbledon of Wakeboarding, where nerves and jitters can betray the best of pros. It takes more than talent to win a contest of this dimension, mostly requiring the ability to perform under tremendous pressure.
Read Next: Learn More About Mary Morgan Howell
During the Semifinal Rounds, the tension and small rollers at Robin Lake got to most riders.
In the Pro Women Heat One, alumni Dallas Friday went down early on both passes as did qualifier Eugenia De Armas from Argentina (the only female who can land a double behind the boat) who fell on a Moby Dick and missed the Tootsie Roll after sticking a clean 5. Alabama’s 18-year-old Mary Morgan Howell landed the Tootsie Roll but under rotated a handle pass KGB. She recovered on her second pass with an Off Axis 540 and a Crow Mobe. Last seed Australian Bec Gange stood up her first pass but fell early on her second pass. Gange got back on her feet landing a perfect Tootsie Roll and advanced into the finals behind Howell.
On Heat Two, Sweden’s Carro Djupso went down early on a Moby Dick but recovered standing up her second pass landing a 540, a Whirlybird and a handle pass Moby Dick. Masters Veteran Tarah Mikacich landed a wrapped KGB, an off axis 540 and a Batwing but missed the handle on a 540. Centralia’s Taylor McCullough missed the Tootsie Roll twice. Defending champion 24-year-old Meagan Ethell stuck a clean first pass including a Whirly and two 540′s but under rotated a KGB early on her second pass. She recovered landing the KGB plus a Tootsie Roll and fell again on a wrapped 360. Ethell advanced to the finals alongside Djupso.
In the Pro Men Semifinal Heat One, 18-year-old phenom Thomas Herman from Indiana put the pressure on standing up both passes. He landed two doubles in a row and won the heat eliminating 20 year old British rider Luca Kidd, USA’ s Jake Pelot and Australia’s Tony Iacconi who stuck Thomas Horrel’s signature trick ‘The Hasselhoff’ but fell on the double. Defending Champion 23-year-old Corey Teunissen from Australia fell on the second trick of his first pass but recovered sticking all his tricks on the second pass advancing to the finals behind Herman
The winner of the semifinal Heat Two was 23-year-old Australian Nic Rapa who had a perfect execution riding solid and clean both passes. 26-year-old Italian rider Massi Piffaretti was eliminated as he went down on his first trick and early on his second pass. While 27-year-old stand out Shota Tezuka from Japan stuck two huge 900 back to back but fell on a double as did Tyler Highman from the USA. Ohio’s 22-year-old Guenther Oka stuck his first pass clean and fell on the second pass but edged out Tezuka by 10 points advancing into the final round.
In the Pro Women final event, Carro Djupso landed a 540 and a whirlybird but went down twice in the Moby Dick scoring 61.67. The nerves and the rollers got Bec Gange who went down early twice. Mary Morgan Howell followed by standing up two clean passes including a Tootsie Roll, handle pass KGB, Moby Dick and a Roll to Blind scoring 88.33 and putting the pressure on Meagan Ethell who went down on her first trick. Having difficulty to mentally recover after falling down on the first trick Meagan fell again on her first trick on the second pass ending up in third place behind Djupso and the new Masters Champion Mary Morgan Howell.
In the Pro Men final round, Thomas Herman was the only rider who didn’t fall and stood up both his passes including two doubles, a KGB 540 and a 900 but only did a 360 on the double up that the judges where counting on heavily. Herman ended up in fourth place scoring 79.67. Australian Nic Rapa landed a Mute Mobe 540, a 900 and an Off Axis 720 but fell on the double ending up in third with 80.67 points. Guenther Oka rode spectacularly landing three Mobe 5′s back to back but fell on the double. Oka came back landing a Mute Mobe and a huge KGB 540 on the double up scoring 88.33. Last seed Corey Teunissen first fell and then landed a double, a 1080 a 900 and a Crow Mobe 540 but missed the double up and came up short scoring 81.67 behind the new Masters Champion Guenther Oka.
Honorary mention to the future of our sport Junior Women Masters Champion Kira Lewis from Australia and Junior Men’s winner Jake Huser from Switzerland.
To watch the contest replay visit masterswaterski.com.