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Local skiers clean up

Local skier Tom Ryan in action during Open Mens’ Slalom events at The Water Ski National Championships, which featured Australia’s best slalom, trick ski and jump skiers. Tom finished fifth in his event. Photo by Les_Garbutt

The Victorian Barefoot Club along with the Mulwala Waterski Club have run one of the Best National Barefoot National Championships ever according to John O’Neill - President of the Barefoot Waterski Australia.

The tournament enjoyed some of the best conditions ever seen at a national championship with warm still weather being a feature of the event.

On the first day of competition flags were flown at half-mast to mark the passing of Max Kirwan and a minute’s silence was held during a break in competition. After that the competition raced ahead at full pace with close to 100 skiers competing across three events.

The Yarrawonga Mulwala area had a strong contingent involved. In the Sub Junior Boys, Mulwala’s Sam Taylor skied in his first Nationals Championships and managed to get PBs in two events. His good friends and competitors Rhys Driscol from Yarrawonga and Zeke Peebles from Bundalong featured in the medals with both scoring personal bests along the way, Rhys took out the silver in tricks with a third overall and Zeke won both events and the overall title.

In Junior Girls Macy Peebles placed first in slalom, second in tricks and a gold in the overall. She was also the only junior girl to jump and scored PBs and a gold in that event as well. Emily Hogan managed to pull out a bronze in tricks in the same division.

In the Junior Boys Ayden Peebles, in his first year up from sub juniors put on some good skiing but didn’t finish in the medals, and Yarrawonga’s Harry Hogan won the gold in tricks with an impressive PB and silver in jump landing him in second place for the overalls.

In the Under 23 Women’s event, Zali Peebles made it a hat trick for the Peebles Family, winning slalom and jump as well as a second in tricks, easily making her overall champion and forcing parents Heath and Amanda to build a new mantle above the fireplace to store all that hardware having three National Champions in their house.

Pete O’Neill came out of retirement to ski in the Senior Men’s event and took home the gold in all three events and the Overall. Brian Sullivan of Cobram, skiing in his 34th National Championships in the Grand Masters, also scooped the pool wining both tricks and slalom and the overall.

The big story of the competition was the Peebles family’s amazing medal haul. Mother Amanda and tournament director and was very proud.

“It was a big week for the family with all four kids competing and Heath (Amanda’s husband) in charge of safety,” Amanda said.

“I was so proud of the kids for pulling it together. Their efforts training over the last six months has been fantastic and it is great to see it pay off.”

The tournament was the third championships in Mulwala in four years for barefooting with the COVID Pandemic making it hard for other sites to pull together what’s ready to go here in Mulwala.

Some of the best barefoot water-skiers in Australia competed in the very successful Australian Barefoot Waterski National Championships held at the Mulwala Water Ski Club Max Kirwan Ski Park in late March.

Mulwala Water Ski Club CEO Peter Duncan said holding such national events is a proud moment for the club after investing a lot of time and money to upgrade the ski parks into the world class facility it is today, the best in Australia.

“We love having the competition out there and we want more of them. We are looking forward to next season’s Oceania Championships in November and the Barefoot World Championships in February.”

Local junior skier Macy Peebles placed first in slalom and jumps and second in tricks taking out gold in the overall junior girls events.

The Water Ski National Championships, which featured Australia’s best slalom, trick ski and jump skiers also took place at the ski park and will finish this week.

Local skiers Tom Ryan (Open Mens) and Fred Douglas (Mens 70) featured well in the slalom events.