Padiwat the king in world of spins and flips
The form book held at the Billabong Asian Wakeboarding Championships, when Asia's best, Padiwat 'Bomb' Jaemjan of Thailand, took top honours.
The 18-year old won yesterday's competition at Tai Po Waterfront Park with a series of impressive manoeuvres and tricks, including an impressive switch-foot 720-degree spin. Second in the competition was Aye Tatsanai Kuakoonrat, while Japan's Miku Asai won the women's division.
The competition in Asia is not nearly as strong as it is in Australia and the US, but the sport - resembling water-skiing using a small surfboard instead of water skis - is growing and the tricks are becoming increasingly complex. The new hot trend is the 1080-degree (three complete revolutions in the air). Only a handful of wakeboarders have attempted the feat, considered the new Holy Grail.
Padiwat has been working on two-and-a-half revolutions (900 degrees). 'If it's flat water, I've landed it before,' Padiwat said. 'But it's also about the boat, my feeling in the air and knowing whether I can or cannot land.' As the men attempt three revolutions, women are still working on landing two complete revolutions.
'More than anything, they're trying to keep up with the guys and their flips and spins,' said former pro rider Brant Hirst, adding that the main reason why women were lagging behind was their lack of strength.
Suter Tan, a competitor from Singapore, said the sport has become more 'technical', especially with an increase of so-called 'mobius' tricks which involve both flips and spins.
Padiwat landed a 720 on his way to winning the HK$30,000 prize. In all, 58 competitors in eight divisions were judged three ways - the difficulty and variety of the run, the intensity of the run and how smoothly the tricks were landed and connected.
Hong Kong's Ronnie Cheung Ho-lung, who was the only entrant from Hong Kong to compete in the men's open category, did not manage to place.
But he was very popular with the crowd on his way into the men's open semi-final - with two 540-degree spins, a series of back rolls, and a front flip with a 360-degree spin.
'It's great to have guys like Ronnie Cheung who can create things, just by being who he is,' Hirst said of Cheung's influence.