x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Clifford on a roll as he tames Abu Dhabi's choppy waters

The Australian Harley Clifford, 16, becomes the youngest winner of a World Wake Series event as he overcame tough conditions and a top-class field.

Trevor Hansen competes during the World Wake Series event in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Trevor Hansen competes during the World Wake Series event in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

ABU DHABI // The Australian Harley Clifford, 16, yesterday became the youngest winner of a World Wake Series event as he overcame tough conditions and a top-class field in the capital. Using variations of spins, backrolls and frontrolls, the youngster proved his worth in his flawless execution and manoeuvring around the ramps that dotted the stretch of water at the Corniche.

"It is a fantastic feeling to win against some of the best on the business," said Clifford. "It was tough out there on the choppy waters but it was the same for everyone. This is a field I have competed against and it usually is the best guy on the day who wins." Clifford edged out the Canadian Rusty Malinoski in the final, with the American Philip Soven finishing third ahead of the world champion Aaron Rathy, from Canada. "This is a great start for me," added Clifford, who broke into the world scene last year by claiming the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour to become the second rider to win the overall title in his rookie year.

"It is pretty much the same competitors but you have to be at best all the time against them. This win means a lot for me and a great start for the season. Obviously I wish to take this forward and more confident for the rest of the season." Rathy, who impressed with his efforts earlier, had to eventually settle for fourth place on the eventful day. "The choppy water was not the ideal but we tried our best to entertain the crowd," he said.

"The wind picked up a little later but it was a pretty good day from the previous day. "It has been fantastic three days for me in Abu Dhabi. It's my third visit, having come for a different event for the first time and again for a trip arranged by the organisers prior to this championship." The top 20 moved to the quarter-finals and that number was halved for the last four. The American Soven topped the quarter- finals with a score of 96 from Danny Tholiander (95.75).

Rathy topped heat two with 95.25 and Clifford and Malinoski, both on 94, emerged as the top contenders from heats one and four. apassela@thenational.ae