Regina Jaquess slalom skiing at the Nautique Masters
Photography: Eric Steiner

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U.S. Athletes Win Titles At 64th Nautique Masters

by Scott N. Atkinson

U.S. water ski athletes Anna Hunter (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Regina Jaquess (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) won titles in respective events at the 64th Nautique Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament, presented by GM Marine, May 25-26, at Callaway Gardens’ Robin Lake in Pine Mountain, Ga.

Hunter won her third career Masters women’s tricks title and first since 2021, scoring 10,540 points in the finals. Canada’s Neilly Ross placed second (10,300 points) and Erika Lang (Gilbert, Ariz.), the two-time defending champion, finished third (10,120 points).

Jaquess won her third consecutive and 10th career Masters women’s slalom title, scoring 4 buoys at 38 feet off in the finals. Ross finished second (3-1/2 buoys at 41 feet off) and Canada’s Paige Rini placed third (3 buoys at 38 feet off).

Other champions from the 64th Masters were: Chile’s Martin Labra, Men’s tricks (11,810 points); Canada’s Cole McCormick, men’s slalom (5-1/2 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off); Great Britain’s Joel Poland, men’s jump (224 feet); and Hanna Straltsova (IWWF), women’s jump (171 feet).

Among other highlights from U.S. water ski athletes, Brittany Wharton (Little Rock, Ark.) and Lauren Morgan (Odessa, Fla.) placed second (165 feet) and fourth (159 feet), respectively, in women’s jump.

In other events, U.S. athlete Meagan Ethell (Orlando, Fla.) and Italy’s Massimiliano Piffaretti won the Women’s and Men’s wakeboarding titles, respectively, for the second consecutive year. Ethell scored 86.67 points in the finals to claim the women’s title, while Piffaretti tallied 86.67 points to clinch the men’s title. Guenther Oka (Orlando, Fla.) placed third in men’s wakeboarding (80.00 points).

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee designated the 2024 Nautique Masters as the Operation Gold event for 2024. U.S. water ski and wakeboard athletes finishing among the top-four placements in their respective disciplines earned additional cash-prize funds from the USOPC.

U.S. water ski athlete Jake Abelson (Holderness, N.H.) won titles in Junior Men’s tricks, jump and overall on Friday (May 24) at the 31st Nautique Junior Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament. Some of the world’s top junior water ski athletes (age 17 and under on Dec. 31, 2023) competed for titles in slalom, tricks, jump and overall.

Abelson scored 11,790 points in winning Junior Men’s tricks for the third consecutive year. Abelson’s score of 11,880 points was a new Junior Men’s tricks course record for Robin Lake. He set the previous record of 11,390 points at the 2023 Junior Masters.

Abelson also won Junior Men’s jump with a distance of 170 feet. U.S. athlete Chase Sparks (Dallas, Ga.) finished second with a distance of 168 feet. Abelson also clinched the overall title with top scores of 11,880 points (tricks), 2-1/2 buoys at 35 feet off (slalom) and 170 feet (jump) in tallying 2,757 overall points.

Other champions from the Junior Masters were: Canada’s Hannah Stopnicki, Junior Women’s tricks (7,290 points); Chile’s Trinidad Espinal, Junior Women’s slalom (3 buoys at 38 feet off); Argentina’s Bautista Ahumada, Junior Men’s slalom (2 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off); Australia’s Kristy Appleton, Junior Women’s jump (140 feet); Canada’s Megan Pelkey, Junior Women’s overall (2,653 points); Italy’s Giulia Castelli, Junior Women’s wakeboard (93.33 points); and Japan’s Shion Takaiwa, Junior Men’s wakeboard 91.33 points). Espinal set a Junior Masters course record 5 buoys at 38 feet off in the elimination round of Junior Women’s slalom. The previous record of 4 buoys at 38 feet off was co-held by U.S. athletes Regina Jaquess (2001) and Brooke Baldwin (2016).

Among other highlights from U.S. athletes in the Junior Masters, Jaeden Eade (Clermont, Fla.) placed second in Junior Men’s slalom (1-1/2 buoys at 38 feet off); Alexia Abelson (Holderness, N.H.) placed third in Junior Women’s tricks (3,840 points); Solie Stenger (Gettysburg, Pa.) finished third in Junior Women’s slalom (2 buoys at 35 feet off); and Camryn Waters (Groveland, Fla.) placed third in Junior Women’s jump (118 feet).

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