Is it too late for 8? That is, as in eight IFWA World Championships.
That was the question some were thinking when Pierre Maixent graced the shores of Alexandra Headlands in Australia. The seven-time world champ was here for one reason: to reclaim the world’s number one spot. The IFWA’s first round was at a brand new location in Australia his year, the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia. A town with a holiday atmosphere and and relaxed vibe, the Sunshine Coast is a perfect place to hit the surf and really enjoy what freeriding is all about.
The Sunshine Coast Jetski Club is the local organization that put on this awesome event with Matty O’Conner and Jason Barry as the main people involved in bringing the international JetSki world to Oz. Every year, for the past 4 years the Sunshine Coast has held the AJSP Surf Slam Oz. It’s a fun event with no real competition except some of the usual Biggest air, Best 180, Sickest trick and let us not to forget, the “Dash for Cash.”
All of this happens in conjunction with two days of freeriding with people from all over Australia and sometimes the world. With thousands of dollars worth of prizes up for grabs, it’s always a massive event. So this year the boys decided to invite the IFWA along to join in on their little get-together. What a great move.
With a last minute decision to make Australia the first round of the IFWA left everyone a little unprepared. So for those involved to make it to the land down under from all over the world was a testament to their love and dedication to the sport. So I take my hat off to you all and say thank you (not forgetting the Aussies who traveled sometimes up to 2500 miles to come and compete and catch up with some mates). Well done to all.
Now I know anyone that owns a jet ski has a good idea of how expensive it can be to ride, let alone ride on the other side of the world. Getting yourself a ticket let alone your ski is almost impossible for the average Joe. So when I saw so many international riders making there way down the beach, I was impressed: The Bright Brothers, Brandon Lawlor, Bruno Jacobs and Mark Gomez just to name a few.
Unfortunately, not many of the riders from abroad could bring their own boats, so it was good to see all the Aussie boys lending out their pride and joy. A person that was instrumental in helping four (yes, four!) international riders to compete was Ben Dayman. An absolute legend that lent out his new Rickter Edge without hesitation. Well, done Mate.
With over 100 riders on the beach made for an awesome sight; SuperJets, Rickters, Krash and Tigercraft were just a few of the major skis getting used.
Now down to business: With so much happening over the three day event, it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, the waves didn’t turn up for this year’s event; with a 2-foot swell and a bit of wind, the conditions put everyone’s ski handling ability to the test. Only days before the event, a cyclone had brought perfect 7-foot waves onto the coast. It’s always the way.
Anyways, about 30 riders had entered the IFWA and started going through their heats on Thursday with two classes – Blasters and Standups – it was a fast-paced day with the Top 8 from last year instantly progressing to the heats on Friday. This gave a few of the first time riders a chance to experience what the IFWA is all about. It was good to see everyone give it their all to impress the judges.
Friday saw some of the pros hit the water with the likes of Abraham Ho and Pete McAfee on the water. What a privilege it was to see Pete tearing it up on a borrowed Tigercraft. That guy has so much talent, it’s hard to believe he rides with a prosthetic leg. Pete ended getting knocked out just before quarter finals. Well done, mate.
First up in the Quarter Finals was Tiago Geitens and Mark Gomez. A great battle with two riders with such different styles. But with the small waves and Mark’s fast-paced riding, he was able to finish ahead of Geitens.
Pierre Maxient and current world Number Three was up next. Mitch Young and Pierre had a great battle, matching trick for trick the first few waves. Unfortunately for Mitch, Pierre got away from him to take the win.
Jake Bright and Abraham Ho went up next with Abraham borrowing Pierre’s ski. Everything was going good for the boys with some nice variations and some nice extension until Abraham under rotated a flip and lawn darted into to a shallow sand bank. Struggling to start the ski, the look on Pierre’s face was…let’s just say, not happy thinking his ski might be down and out.
This was an opportunity for Jake. But unfortunately for him, after get some practice in on yet another borrowed ski just minutes before his heat, he made a rookie mistake of not topping off his ski with fuel. So at this stage both skis and riders are bobbing about as the clock was ticking away. Jake finally made it ashore to swap skis again just as Abraham’s ski fired and gave him enough time to take the win.
Brodie Copp and World Champion Mick Anthony did battle next. Some close riding with Mick hanging out the back and surfing waves all the way to the beach. While Brodie’s talent at using the wave for both surfing and aerials got him though to the finals.
Mark Gomez took out Abraham for second place after long deliberation by the judges. His “never give up” attitude got him over the line for third in his first IFWA tour.
The battle for first was between Pierre and Brodie. The local young gun against a multiple world champ. It was a battle royal, with the Frenchman’s smooth style and relaxed attitude helping him to master the waves, with massive flip combinations and even multiple Superflips in the tiny chopped up surf.
Not to be outdone, Brodie wasn’t giving a inch with a massive flex flip and some super smooth surf riding. In the end it was, in my opinion, Pierre’s experience and relaxed attitude that got him the win. It’s hard to perform your best under so much pressure. Those years of practice definitely help.
Well done to everyone involved. The event went off without a hitch. The after party was out of control and Jason Barry and his team of helpers were amazing out all the time it took to make this such a great occasion. To all the people that lent their skis and time, I say thank you. Without you none of this could happen. To all the international riders, welcome to Australia and thanks for the awesome show. To the local riders, keep it up boys and girls. You have shown the world what us Aussies can do.
All images courtesy of Photos by Skip and unaltered, full-resolution versions can be purchased HERE.