By: Rosalee Dyer and Tim Walker
(Photos by Tim V. Walker)
The 46th Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament was held May 27-29 at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. The Masters is known as the most prestigious watersports tournament in the world as competitors have to meet specific criteria to be invited. Originally, the tournament was 3-event water ski only, but as wakeboarding has grown it was introduced as an official event in 1994. Over the years, the prize purse has grown to over $135,000 in cash and prizes, making it one of the richest in water ski and wakeboarding competition. The atmosphere created by the athletes and spectators make the Masters one of the most exciting events to attend where a strong tradition is still in place.
To add to the excitement in 1993 the Junior Masters Tournament was introduced. This provides young competitors the opportunity to experience the thrill of an event on an International level. This year the competition began on Friday morning with the juniors competing in the elimination rounds. The four Juniors to move on to Saturdays finals were 1st place Aaron Rathy (66.67) who barely edged out young 13 year old Robert Soven in 2nd place (62.67) who landed his first 720 off the double up, Jimmy LaRiche (56.10) 3rd, and Austin Hair (53.90) 4th.
Women Riders competed in the elimination round on Saturday and four ladies moved on to the finals on Sunday. Lauren Loe, Tara Hamilton, Emily Copeland-Durham and Dallas Friday. Once again Dallas Friday defended her title but not without Emily Copeland-Durham giving her a run for her money in Sundays head to head competition.
The men wakeboarders had to work for their money as this year they introduced the head to head competition with several heats. After Friday the heat winners were Derek Grassman (62.78), Andrew Adkison (82.20), Daniel Watkins (67.78), and JD Webb (69.20). The remainder of the competitors had to go into a LCQ (Last Chance Qualifier) where Tino Santori, Eri Ruck, Trevor Hansen and Phillip Soven advanced. After Friday Andrew Adkison had barely topped Phillip Sovenís score in the first head to head round only to meet again head to head on Sundays final heat. Sundayís heat #1 Soven topped Grassman, Heat #2 Adkison topped Ruck, Heat #3 Webb topped Santori, and Heat #4 Hansen topped Watkins.
Sunday began with the traditional parade of flags and Ski Nautique Boats. The weather and wind played a crucial part in the tournament as riders were cold and spectators bundled up committed to watch their favorite riders. If viewers couldnít stand the rain and cold they could watch the competition live and in the dry at home on live web cast sponsored by Planet Nautique at www.masterslive.net.
Tough head to head competition heated up as Soven won heat 1 over Hansen. Heat 2 was Adkison over Webb. Although Adkison defeated Webb, Webb won the Big Trick of the Tournament Award, which was voted on by the web cast viewers. Once again Soven and Adkison would meet head to head in the finals. Soven went out and rode flawlessly again as he only had one fall throughout the whole tournament. Soven survived all the heats and was the Masterís 2005 Menís Wakeboard Champion.
Menís Wakeboard-Phillip Soven
Womenís Wakeboard-Dallas Friday
Jr. Boys-Aaron Rathy