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Reigning APTW Champ delivered surprise upset by Kiwi Skud
Sunday 17th February 2008

A collaboration of the worlds wakeboarding’s elite converged on Hamilton NZ waterways this week, and the surprise upsets delivered will now have the Australian Pro Tour of Wakeboarding (APTW) come down to the wire in the final tour stop at Caribbean Gardens on the 16th of March 2008.

Coming into this event it was uncertain how reigning Aussie Champ and current tour leader, Dean Smith would fair after a very short recovery period from his leg injury a few weeks previous. If he was to win the competition this weekend it would hand him the overall title again for 2008, but to achieve this he would first need to beat 14 year old superstar, Harley Clifford and a swag of local Kiwi talent including the 2006 APTW Champion, Jeff Weatherall and 2008 APTW front runner Brad Smeele.

Weatherall’s brief time away from the sport proved ‘just what the doctor ordered’ as he came out with all guns blazing in the third round of the APTW. He easily qualified highest for the day in the round of 16 and then went on un-defeated as he steamrolled everyone in his path including Australia’s Dean Smith and the eventual runner up and fellow Kiwi, Brad Smeele.
Smeele was hot off a win last week and was hungry for some more prize money, but had to settle for second as Weatherall outshone him in the final round of the day. On his way to the finals however, Smeele performed faultlessly as he won every heat convincingly including the one that put him up against 2008’s season points runner up Harley Clifford.

After these results, the tour standings now have less than 20 points separating Smeele, Clifford and Smith who hold 3rd to 1st positions on the ladder respectively. ‘The final tour stop at Caribbean is going to be a must-see event’ according to Event Operations Manager, Dalai Liddy, as ‘all three of these guys muscle it out for the top spot’ as well as having to negotiate their way around the fresh challenges layed down by international wakeboarding professionals such as Troy Mackey, Chris O’shea and 2007 World Champion and US Pro Tour Champion Phillip Soven.

That event will be one you won’t want to miss!

Along with the heated battles being exchanged among the pro men, Caribbean is sure to be a memorable one in professional womens Wakeboarding as the Tour’s finest will get their first chance to get up and get crazy on the array of technical sliders in the Melbourne course. Hayley Smith is a favourite to take out this event for the women with her reputation as being the king of sliders in Australian womens wakeboarding. She hasn’t got enough momentum to steal Amber Wing’s thunder at this late stage but she could potentially upset the 2007 world champ’s first opportunity to clean sweep the tour as she makes a home run for her 3rd consecutive APTW Womens Title.

The inaugural World Wakeboarding Association Australia’s (WWAA) Junior Academy Series will also wrap up in Melbourne with a potential clean sweep also for the winner of the Hamilton Round, Rylie Pfitzner. Rylie has finished in the top spot for the third event in a row now and will be looking to finish the season in perfect form as the pool of incredible young talent beneath him all shoot to knock him off his perch. It was Mitch Askew and Lewis Roberts barking sternly at his heels this week and with the introduction of a few new riders and a handful of pro level sliders at the Caribbean stop it is going to be a really interesting finale to the 2008 WWAA Junior Academy Series.

The New Zealand hospitality and picturesque Hamilton backdrop was certainly a strong drawcard to the APTW and it the negotiations have already begun for the continuation of this leg of the tour in 2009 and beyond. The event ran without a hitch and the crowd certainly showed their appreciation when the Kiwi’s took home the crown.