KUCHING: Waterski and wakeboard activities are now available at the Kuching Waterfront in the run-up to the Sarawak Wakeboard World Cup to be held here in September.
Testing and training activities on the Sarawak River began yesterday with a new Mastercraft Pro Star 197 tow boat, which was delivered to the state capital last week by event organisers International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) and Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup Sdn Bhd (WWWC).
Several Malaysian national skiers and wakeboarders, including national chief coach Philippa Yoong and her eight-year-old half-sister Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah, are participating in the week-long testing, after which commercial operations will begin.
Twelve Sarawakian youths nominated by the State Sports Council are joining them to learn waterskiing and wakeboarding.
IWWF Malaysia event director Hanifah Yoong said he hoped to train at least eight of the youths to be ready to do a demonstration during the World Cup on Sept 15-18.
“We want to show their capability and stimulate the development of wakeboarding and waterskiing in Sarawak,” he told reporters yesterday.
He also hoped that one or two Sarawakians would be ready to represent the country at next year’s Asian Beach Games in China.
“We see Sarawak as a natural environment for watersports because there are a lot of rivers here and Sarawakians are natural sportsmen.
“Our desire is to develop international waterskiers and wakeboarders from Sarawak,” Yoong said.
He added that it was necessary to start at a young age in order to become world-class later.
“We prefer them to start as young as five to have a chance to be an international champion. If you start at 12, you can be the Asian champion.
“To reach world-class you need five to eight years,” he said.
On the World Cup, Yoong said it would be an elite event featuring the top 20 men and top 12 women in the world.
The participants come from 17 countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, Singapore, South Korea and China.
There will also be a waterski show by the Stars of Florida team.
Assistant Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip said the introduction of waterskiing and wakeboarding would be a boost for tourism.
“I hope more people, including tourists, will come and try it out. It is a sport that the public can enjoy,” he said.
Those interested to participate can make bookings by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by SMS to 012-272 1948.
A booking centre will also be set up at Grand Margherita Hotel.