By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia
The waterskiing/wakeboarding contingent of Team South Africa swung into action here on Friday in the shape of Gabi Viljoen.
Friday saw the preliminary event being contested by Viljoen failed to progress through the preliminary rounds.
She completed her first pass successfully after starting on a 14-metre line. On her return run though, with the line reduced to 13m, she slipped up at 2.5 balls into the run.
That saw her ending up in eighth position with the top six going through to Saturday’s final stages.
Her national record is two balls at 11.25m, a mark she’s achieved on a good few occasions.
Said the 21-year-old Capetonian, who is now studying International Business and Asian Studies in Orlando in the United States: “It was tricky out there, the conditions were pretty much the worse I’ve competed in ÔÇô a combination of the wind and the shape of the dam. It’s quite a small dam so there’s lots of backwash and bumpiness.
“The Moomba Masters in Australia is notorious for conditions but in my opinion this was worse.”
Viljoen has been skiing since the age of five years old and won her first international competition at the age of seven in Germany.
For the slalom competition, competitors are towed down the line by a powerboat at a consistent speed of 55 kilometres per hour and attempt to weave back and forth between the various buoys on the extreme limits of the course.”
“They’ve done tests and established that out acceleration from our slowest to fastest speed is faster than that of a Formula One racing car,” said Viljoen who lives and trains at her Western Cape home of Piketberg where she has her own lake to train on.
Also in watersport action on Saturday will be fellow Capetonian Dylan Mitchell, who competes in the wakeboarding event. The 20-year-old goes into the event ranked 12th in the world.