22nd July 2019
IWWF headed to a new destination for the IWWF NEOM Wakeboard Cup in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, the weekend of 19th & 20th of July 2019.
NEOM is a new destination being created at the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa and along one of the world’s busiest economic arteries. It is strategically placed at the crossroads of the world with an area of 26,500 km2, and it is just an 8-hour flight at the most from 70% of the global population.
Commenting on the event, IWWF Executive Director Paul Fong said: “We are excited about running the first competitive wakeboard boat event in a new destination, where there is huge potential for the development of our sport. We believe the sporting and cultural experience will leave a lasting impression on all those who participate in this inaugural event.”
“It’s great testimony to the spirit of NEOM that we are hosting the IWWF NEOM Wakeboard Cup at such an early stage in our development,” said Jason Harborow, head of NEOM’s Future of Sport sector. “As we evolve, Beach Sports will be an important part of our offering and major events will be high on the agenda.”
Fifteen men and nine women from 15 countries converged on Neom, Saudi Arabia for the inaugural IWWF Neom Wakeboard Cup, competing for USD 100,000 in prize money and travel allowances.
The event, along with the Neom Beach Soccer Cup 2019, involving six international teams and demonstration beach rugby and tennis matches, formed part of the Neom Water and Beach Activation programme. This is part of the Saudi Arabian Vision 2030 project which will see Neom develop into a technological hub and sports and leisure mega-city.
Despite relatively windy conditions the hardy women tested the water on Friday morning familiarising themselves with the conditions. With the breeze moderating the men completed their practice before the qualifying rounds got underway.
Two heats for the women identified the four women who qualified for their final including Zahra Kell (AUS) and Chiara Virag (ITA) from Heat 1 and Hinata Yoshihara (JPN) and Duan Zhenkun (CHN) from Heat 2. The remainder entered the last-chance-qualifier (LCQ) from which two, Dallas Friday (USA) and Alice Virag (ITA) made it through to the finals.
Meanwhile two of the three qualifying heats were completed for the men, with the third resumed first thing on Saturday morning, identifying the nine who qualified for the men’s semi-finals. These included Kai Ditsch (ARG), Nicolo Caimi (ITA) and Khalid Subaa Alali (UAE) from Heat 1, Daniel Thollander (USA), David O’Caoimh (IRL) and Shota Tezuka (JPN) from Heat 2 and Hamazaki Yu (JPN), Tony Iacconi (AUS) and Maxime Roux (ITA) from Heat 3. The remaining six entered the men’s LCQ competing for the last place in the semis, with Dan Nott progressing to the semis comprising two heats with five in each.
Unfortunately various events and concern for the riders prevented the completion of the competition. However the trail-blazing wakeboarders hope to return to Neom for future events. As Daniel Thollander said “We would never have had this opportunity to wakeboard on the Red Sea.”
Despite the many challenges faced the IWWF is delighted with the media coverage, which has already generated interest in further events and the further development of the sport in the region. The organisers and IWWF are thrilled with the media coverage:
About NEOM: NEOM is the flagship project of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. A vast destination designed to welcome and celebrate the world’s athletes, sports enthusiasts and thrill seekers. NEOM was announced to the public on October 24, 2017 by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).
The name “NEOM” is derived from two words. The first three letters form the Ancient Greek prefix neo- meaning “new”. The fourth letter is the abbreviation of Mostaqbal (Arabic: مستقبل), an Arabic word meaning “future”. As the name suggests, it will be the land of the future where the best ideas, most promising start-ups, established companies, future industries and the best talents are joined to create solutions for the key challenges facing humanity.
About the IWWF: The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) is the world governing body for towed watersports and has over 90 affiliated Federations worldwide. It was founded in 1946 in Geneva, Switzerland. It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the sole authority for towed watersports. The IWWF is an affiliate member of the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federation (ARISF) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). The IWWF’s sports disciplines include, amongst others, Tournament Waterskiing (slalom, tricks & jump), Wakeboard, Cable Wakeboard, Cable Waterskiing, Disabled Waterskiing, Show Skiing, Ski Racing, Barefoot Waterskiing & Wakesurfing
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