ABU DHABI // Four new champions emerged in the third staging of the World Wakeboard Association (WWA) Wake Park World Championships at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
Matt Hassler of Australia and Daniel Grant of Thailand shared the honours in the men’s categories, winning the Professional and the Professional Features, respectively. Julia Rick of Germany and Courtney Angus of Australia bagged the women’s titles.
“I am so happy. I have been working so hard for the last two years for this title,” Hassler said on Friday after receiving his award last night following the conclusion of the three-day championship.
Hassler edged compatriot and defending champion James Windsor. Grant stunned the American trio of Tom Fooshee, Chandler Powell and Julian Cohen.
“I am over the moon to have won this from two of the most experienced wakeboarders in the world circuit,” said Grant, a 15 year old whose mother is Thai and father is British.
“I have been skateboarding since eight, when one of my buddies invited me to try wakeboarding. It was so much fun and it didn’t hurt me on a fall as much as in skateboarding.
“It is my third visit to Abu Dhabi. This venue keeps getting better and better. I had a great time out there, having gotten into both the finals. Hopefully I will be back next year to defend my title.”
Fooshee’s attempt at back-to-back wins in the WWA World Series was stalled, failing to reach the last four in the Pro division.
Fooshee, 29, was gracious in defeat, though. He said: “I am here for the third time and have been in the sport more than anybody. I am not going anywhere anytime soon because of my age.
“The competition this year in Abu Dhabi was incredible. This is the best finals I have ever seen.
“In the Features final, Daniel in particular, every time I saw him, he took every one of his tricks to the next level. As far as the show we gave the crowd, there’s no one better in the world.”
Cohen, who finished out of the podium in the competition between the final four, gave a precise summary of the Abu Dhabi event.
“It is my third time in Abu Dhabi, too,” he said. “In the first two years, there were two or three riders who were hard to beat. But this year, everyone was hard to beat.”
Omeir Saeed, the first Emirati to compete in the Professional division, failed to go beyond his heats.
The pupil from the British School-Al Khubairat still took the experience as a positive.
“I had to compete in a very hard heat alongside Matt Hassler and Nick Davis and got nervous at the beginning, being my first time in the pro division,” said Saeed, 16.
“The experience was enough for me. I did my part when it came to my turn. I felt good when I was on the water and doing my tricks, yet fell short to go beyond my heats.
“I am in a critical stage of my schooling and will need to speak to my parents if they would allow me to compete in a few competitions outside the UAE. If not, I will be competing in Abu Dhabi next year, that’s for sure.”