With the southern hemisphere season in full swing, we thought it only appropriate to check in with some of our friends down in Australia. We had a chance to chat with Scotty Kell of the legendary Black Diamond Wakeboarding School outside Sydney, Australia to give us a little inside info about him and his school. Scotty has been responsible for training and coaching some of the biggest names in wakeboarding over the course of his career and does it exclusively with the help of Super Air Nautiques. If you’re in the area be sure to check it out!
Tell us a little about Black Diamond and your history. Black Diamond was established in 1996 and is the longest running Wakeboard School in Australia. We teach all levels from first-time beginners to professional. We operate 7 days a week from mid September until early June and on set weeks throughout our winter leading into major competitions like the Nautique Wake Series.
What’s new for Black Diamond for the 2016-2017 summer? Black Diamond turns 21 next year! And we have just got approval on our private riverfront property to start to build a new school building so we are massively looking forward to getting it started in 2017.
That’s amazing, and what Nautiques are you running at the moment? We are running a 2017 Super Air Nautique 210 and a 2017 Super Air Nautique G23. We switch between boats depending on the level of the rider or the size of the group.
Who coaches your students? Scotty Kell is the coach who was one of the first professional riders in Australia and has been coaching beginners to professionals for over 20 years. Scotty has guided a huge number of his riders into winning many world titles as well as assisting with setting up his guys and girls with very successful riding careers. Scotty is also a family man whom finds it really rewarding to take out new people and families getting into the sport and sharing his knowledge with them so they head in the right direction from day one.
What riders got their start at Black Diamond? So many of the riders have trained here over the years from Australia and all around the world, but the current ones that you would be seeing in the USA at the moment are riders such as Tony Iacconi, Massi Piffaretti, Dean Smith, Nic Rapa, Amber Wing, Zahra Kell, Sam Brown, Elliot Digney, Cory Teunissen, Parker Siegle, Lewy Watt, Callan Starr, Chloe Mills and Bec Gange.
What riders come through for guest appearances? You’ll be sure to find some of the above riders here at most times through our summer, they’re always stopping by.
How is your waterway and waterfront site set up? We are on an acre of private waterfront land on the Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry, which is the most North Western outskirt of Sydney. We currently have two cabins and a camp kitchen and deck entertaining area and training trampolines. Soon we will have the new building to go with all of this ☺
What else keeps you busy in the summertime? We have a busy summer this year with a few competitions going on close to and on our home soil. A lot of our riders are also wanting to prepare for heading over to the USA to compete in the next Northern Hemisphere summer so we’re busy with that. We’ll be working hard with all the crew training in Sydney and also be heading to the AAO’s in New Zealand late in January to drive the Nautique G23 and also taking the helm at Moomba Masters in March next year in Melbourne.
Mike, you’re coming off of your biggest season yet finishing a close second on the Nautique Wake Series and then becoming the overall champion of the Wakeboard World Series. From a competitive standpoint give us a little insight into how this year unfolded for you.
Mike: This year I took a lot different approach to competition. I spent a lot of time working on my mental game doing meditation, visualizations and some other techniques and did these things multiple times a day. It completely spun my game around to a direction I knew I was capable of reaching. It was such a fun experience and I can’t wait to start competing again.
What things are you doing differently that you feel have attributed to your success?
Mike: Working on my mental strength for sure. I was able to build some habits and find some useful techniques to help structure my mind frame in a positive way. That helped me unlock a lot of my potential that I had a hard time reaching in previous years.
How has the competitive landscape in wakeboarding changed since you first started?
Mike: The competitive field is so much different than when I first started. There are so many strong competitors that you are forced to be on point every time you show up to an event. That mixed with the amount of contests that we compete in per year makes for an interesting and fun season. Mostly the level of riding has changed dramatically. There are tons of guys doing really hard tricks and guys that have cut a lot of weight and worked really hard to get to where they are. I’m just excited to see what is possible for me next.
What do you see for the future of the sport?
Mike: I think cable and winching are getting more eyes on wakeboarding than ever and with all the contests I think the sport has huge potential. To get extreme growth we need to return to festival-style events that have live music. Wakeboarding isn’t big enough to hold events and have huge turn outs. If we want bigger crowds we have to give people another reason to take time out of their day because wakeboarding just isn’t that popular yet. As for me, I’m going to continue to work on my craft and see how far I can take this sport. I’m on a self-motivated journey to see how closely I can create the reality I imagine and for me this is the starting line.
What are you currently working on?
Mike: Mostly body functionality in the gym. Working on proper movements and strengthening all the weak muscles in my body. A lot of people are going to the gym now days but I’m not so sure how constructively they are working. If you’re not focusing on the proper movements of the body be it on the water or in the gym, or even your posture as you walk, then most of the work you’re doing isn’t going to give you good results. With the season over, now I have some free time to take care of things around the house which feels nice.
Take us through a typical day in the life of Mike Dowdy.
Mike: Typical day for me is up anywhere , crack a Red Bull and get after it right away. I start with a 30-40 minute mental exercise routine. Then I’ll do a stretch and foam roll session which takes about another hour. Then I’ll go out on the boat for some training, after that I would go to acupuncture, then back to the boat. Then back to the gym, and if I’m up for it, one more ride in the evening. That’s a typical training day when the season’s in full swing. Right now though it’s a bit more relaxed but I’m still working on some of the same habits and skills.
What are your goals for next season?
Mike: I haven’t really set them out yet. I imagine it will be another pretty fun year battling the boys. I have some other projects in the works as well but it’s not quite time to let the lid off those. I really love competing so I’m looking forward to getting back into it. I’m also partnering with a really cool organization in my home town called North Star Reach which is a camp for kids with major disabilities. We take kids who typically couldn’t go to summer camp because of their needs and allow them the opportunity to go to camp. We’re looking at getting a G-series boat up there and taking the kids out to learn to ride and just have fun on the boat. So I’m really looking forward to that as well.
Who do you usually ride with?
Mike: I usually ride with any of my buddies who want to ride. It depends who’s around. Sometimes its Parker, Tony, Cory, or Massi.
How has the Super Air Nautique G23 helped you grow as a rider?
Mike: The G23 has not only helped myself but has evolved the entire sport. From the first two wake to wake 1080’s in events, to me doing the first wake to wake 1260 and double roll to blind, the G23 has completely changed the face of wake forever. I’m so proud and honored to be working with a company that is dedicated to designing boats that make it possible to perform at a higher level.
The 2016 Nautique U.S. Open of Water Skiing presented by Roger Dean Chevrolet, saw Team Nautique athletes take home four titles among nine podium finishes. Beautiful Okeeheelee Park in conjunction with the Ski Club of the Palm Beaches, set the stage for the action as the record-breaking Ski Nautique 200 performed flawlessly in all three events giving the athletes the ability to put it all on the line in the final major event of the season.
In the Men’s Trick event, Nautique athlete Aliaksei Zharnasek is in a league of his own. Recently setting a new pending world record behind the Ski Nautique 200, Ace is flawless in execution, winning the Nautique U.S. Open with an incredibly technical run that earned him 11,620 points. Nautique’s Josh Briant has been consistently finishing near the top progressing by leaps and bounds each time we see him on the water. The young Australian had an amazing run with 11,140 points to take the podium in third.
2016 Nautique U.S. Open Men’s Trick Podium
“I’m very happy and excited to pull out another win at the 2016 Nautique U.S. Open behind the best boat on the market, the Ski Nautique 200. A huge thanks to the Nautique team for organizing another great event and devoting their efforts to promote water skiing. It was a very successful season for me and I’m proud to say that with this win I managed to stay undefeated this year. I can’t wait for 2017!” – Aliaksei Zharnasek
Team Nautique skier Natallia Berdnikava showcased versatility and consistency that earned her two podium finishes placing third in women’s tricks with 9,520 points and third in jump with a distance of 171 ft. (52.8m).
Nautique athlete and jump phenom Jacinta Carroll logged her 30th professional victory and put a cap on her world-record breaking week in Women’s Jump finals. At an event earlier in the week, Carroll set two consecutive world-records behind the Ski Nautique 200 first flying 194 ft. (59.2 meters) before launching to 198 ft. (60.3m) in the next round.
2016 Nautique U.S. Open Women’s Jump Podium
“The final event of the year once again proved to be an exciting one. As always the Ski Nautique 200 provided me the best opportunity to jump as far as I can. My 30th win in a row at the Nautique U.S. Open was the best way to finish the year!” – Jacinta Carroll.
In an exciting Men’s Jump final, world-champion Nautique athlete Ryan Dodd went one-and-done for the win exploding off the ramp behind the Ski Nautique 200 to soar 227 ft. (69.1m). Team Nautique Jump legend Scot “Rocketman” Ellis took the podium in third place with a jump of 216 ft. (65.9m).
Nautique U.S. Open Men’s Jump Podium
“The Nautique U.S. Open win meant a lot to me for a few different reasons. Up until 2 days before the event I wasn’t even sure I was able to compete due to a recent crash. I decided to go for it and push my limits a bit. Taking the win on my opening jump by a margin of 9ft was the perfect way for me to cap off my season and lock in my number 1 world ranking for the winter! I was thankful to just be able compete so this win was a massive bonus for me!” - Ryan Dodd.
Nate Smith 2016 Nautique U.S. Open
Slalom World-Record holder and Team Nautique athlete Nate Smith returned to action at the Nautique U.S. Open and remained true to exceptional form heading into the final in top seed. Smith looked as smooth as ever behind the Ski Nautique 200 just missing the top spot by half a buoy to finish second running 2.5@41-off.
Whitney McClintock 2016 Nautique U.S. Open
An emotional Women’s Slalom win for Nautique’s Whitney McClintock showed her grace under fire as the entire field had impressive performances behind the Ski Nautique 200. For the first time ever in a Women’s slalom event, all three podium finishers ran a full 39-off pass putting the pressure on as McClintock took the water. The Nautique U.S. Open Champ could not be shaken and a fist in the air put a seal on the title with a score of 2@41-off.
Whitney McClintock 2016 Nautique U.S. Open Champ
“Matt and I have been working really hard on my slalom all summer to get me back on the top of the podium. The Nautique U.S. Open was such a great opportunity to ski on a perfect lake behind the Ski Nautique 200. I was confident that I could run 2@41 and was proud of accomplishing my goal in the first round. After Manon & Regina both ran 39 in the finals I knew my goal was still the same, 2@41. I was still confident I could accomplish that & more…Unfortunately, when I got outside 2 ball and started celebrating it made it really hard to get to 3 ball!!” - Whitney McClintock.
Team Nautique athletes Noah Flegel and Jodi Grassman have been charging the pro wakesurf circuit hard this season with big wins all over the globe leading up to the Wakesurf World Championships held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this past weekend. Riding behind 3X Wakesurf Boat of the Year the Super Air Nautique G23 on a daily basis has taken both athletes to the top of their game, continuously learning new tricks that keep them ahead of the pack.
The balancing act that is Noah Flegel has seen the 19 year old phenom take on both professional wakeboarding and wakesurfing, regarded in both sports as one of the best in the world. Consistent surfing at the 2016 Wakesurf World Championships earned him his 3rd Wakesurf World title to put a cap on his amazing season.
“Winning the Wakesurf World Championships was the perfect way for me to finish off my season. After injuring my shoulder mid wakeboard season, I decided to put my focus into wakesurfing, and I’m stoked that it paid off! Thank you to Nautique for your continued support and for producing the best boat in the world for wakesurfing and wakeboarding, the G23 which allows me to pursue my dreams in both sports!” – Noah Flegel
Nautique surfer and fan favorite Jodi Grassman delivers every time she hits the water. Known for her aggressive attack, Jodi put everything on the line at the 2016 Wakesurf World Championships with impressive runs that included a backside bigspin, 360 shuv, and a massive indy shuv. With a second place finish at the event, she brought home the overall CWSA title for the second year in a row. She also was awarded CWSA Female Rider of the Year and the Best Trick Award for becoming the first female to land a 540 bigspin.
“Aside from taking 2nd place at the 2016 World Wakesurf Championships, I came away with a few other awesome accomplishments! I took the number one spot in the overall CWSA World Rankings, received the Female Best trick award for being the first female rider to land a 540 Bigspin, and was voted Female Wakesurfer of the Year! I am so humbled and grateful for being rewarded for all my hard work this season and cannot wait to get back at it this winter to work on my consistency. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Nautique or the wave behind my G! Thank you!” – Jodi Grassman
Legendary Nautique athlete Shaun Murray was inducted into the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame earlier this month during Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida. His contribution to the sport goes light-years beyond his talents on the water. There are few people in watersports more admired and looked up to. The individual experiences he has given riders all over the globe on a one-on-one level are priceless to the sport’s growth, and a testament to his humble character and passion to grow and give back to the sport that has given him so much.
A part of wakeboarding’s growth since the beginning and figurehead to some of the largest companies in watersports, he is one of wakeboarding’s most influential riders and the man people look to for advice on everything from product development to the careers of aspiring pro’s. While known for keeping it professional and being an ideal role model, Murray is just as importantly known for always having fun. Watching Shaun Murray ride is an experience that blends style and technical mastery with show-ski antics that include jaw-dropping maneuvers done for the sole purpose of making everyone in the boat scream in excitement. The lasting impression is, “I can’t believe how good he is” and “man that looks fun.” Those moments have inspired an entire generation.
“To be inducted into the wakeboard Hall of Fame is a very surreal experience. Of course I’m very honored but it just seems crazy to me. I have so many people to thank that it’s difficult to even begin the list. The support that I have had from my family has been amazing along with nearly every company that I have been working with for over 20 years. Thank you Nautique, Hyperlite, Fox, Jet Pilot, Aktion Parks (OWC and MWC) Bb Talkin’ and Lead Wake for the continued support that allows me to share my passion for fun on the water. Also, to not thank God for this creation and my abilities would just be foolish of me. So big shout out to Him! Thanks to everyone at the Wakeboard Hall Of Fame for their time and effort of preserving the history of our sport. I would also like to send a special thank you to everyone at Nautique for allowing me to be a part of the best boat company in the game and the opportunity to have a hand in creating the vessel of our dreams ”. –Shaun Murray