If you haven't noticed, I love slalom waterskiing. So when there is a tournament in the middle of downtown Orlando that hasn't taken place since the year I was born, I'm going to be there. My friend Gareth and I took the seven hour trek in my TDi and stayed with my buddy Colin of HartFX in Orlando.
It turns out that the course on Lake Eola was only four buoys instead of six, and they slowed to boat speed down to 34 from 36 MPH since the conditions were so bad. But even with those drawbacks, I was still excited to see the sport I love most literally taking place in the middle of a big city.
We started out on the north side of the lake to get a good view of the jump event.
After the jump preliminaries, we met up with John Horton of BallofSpray.com (one of the biggest waterski websites, check it out) and ended up getting on a photo boat after hanging out by the starting dock for a few minutes. Unfortunately at this point, my digital camera's batteries were almost dead, so I used the Minolta X-700 once it was kaput. The 50mm lens wasn't exactly ideal, but I still got some shots that I'm pleased with.
This was definitely my favorite boat at the competition:
We made it back to the starting dock at the end of the Women's finals and waited for the Men's event to get going. Regina Jaquess ended up winning the Women's Slalom event.
Sitting close to the starting dock didn't give me a good perspective for photographing the actual ski passes, but I got a few good shots of some interaction on the dock, and we were able to hear the judges. Thomas DeGasperi of Italy and Nate Smith of Indiana ended up tying in a runoff four times! Eventually, due to some complicated rules, Thomas lost even though he tied with Nate.
The next morning, we met up with Thomas at his ski school at 8:30am. I felt kind of bad booking a lesson the morning after Soaked, so I talked to him at the tournament and he was all for it! Even though the weather was horrible during our lesson, he immediately picked up on a couple of bad habits and was able to put us in the right direction. I have major respect for him since he was willing to hang out with a couple of amateurs the morning after a tough tournament loss. Seriously, he didn't have to do it, but he was more than willing and was great at articulating specific instructions.
All in all it was a great weekend and we had a blast. I hope they are able to have the event again next year!