Wakeboarding: Sibling rivalry to the fore as Stuckey brothers finish first and second

(From left) Runner-up Gavin Stuckey, pro men's winner Trent Stuckey, third-placed Pedro Caldas and Enzo Asseraf, who finished fourth, after the Embily Open at East Coast Park on Sunday. PHOTO: EMBILY OPEN 2023

SINGAPORE – Sibling rivalry spurred the Stuckey brothers Trent and Gavin to first and second in the pro men’s category at the first Embily Open wakeboarding competition at the Singapore Wake Park in East Coast Park.

Trent’s score of 76.20 in the play-off final on Sunday meant that he edged out his younger brother, who garnered 74.97. Brazilian Pedro Caldas was third in the 25-strong field with 70.33.

Several minutes after the final, Trent, 18, and Gavin, 16, were on a video call with their mother, recounting how it went.

Wakeboarding is a family sport for the American siblings, who have competed professionally since 2019. Their mother Shannon had also taken part in professional competitions while father Jason had entered amateur events.

Trent, who is the 2022 Langenfeld Open winner and 2021 Nautique WWA Wake Park world champion, said: “It is super cool to be on the podium together here and, as soon as we knew we were in the final play-off, I already felt we had the best outcome no matter who finished first.

“We come from a family that has always supported us and wakeboarding is really something we do as a family, from watching our parents to practising together.”

Gavin added: “Every time we ride, whether that is in practice or in competition, we do it together. We are often pushing each other and my brother encourages me to push myself to the limit and always try new things. We make each other better.”

Trent collected a US$8,000 (S$10,587) prize cheque for the win, while Gavin took home US$4,800.

Boasting a total prize pool of US$26,000, the event welcomed top professionals such as 12-time world champion Julia Rick of Germany and American John Dreiling, the 2021 Rider of the Year.

In the pro women’s category, Italy’s Claudia Pagnini emerged victorious out of six competitors with 68.77, ahead of Russian Anastasiia Syrova (58.90) and Rick (who beat Elena Bodi Lopez in a play-off).

Watching Pagnini, the 2022 Wake Park world champion, closely was 13-year-old Singaporean Tara Lim, who counts the Italian as her idol.

Tara, who finished second in the amateur ladies category, said seeing world-class wakeboarders in person was an “experience of a lifetime”.

The School of the Arts second-year student said: “Everyone competing here has been super impressive and being... with them and just watching closely and learning has been amazing.

“I got a chance to speak to Claudia and she advised me to keep learning and enjoying what I am doing.”

Her compatriot Alysha Rizwan, 17, was second in the open ladies wakeskate category and earned US$600.

She said it was a dream to meet the overseas riders, adding: “I hope that having an event like this will mean that the sport will be more well known among locals. Having it here regularly will mean that more people know about the sport.”

Despite the rain which halted proceedings for an hour in the afternoon, the competition drew about 400 people to the Singapore Wake Park where the pro riders entertained countless requests for selfies and autographs.

Martin Onco, who is part of Wake House, the organising committee for the Embily Open, hopes it will become a fixture in years to come.

The vice-president of the Wakeboard Association Singapore added: “The turnout today despite the rain shows that the community here is eager to have such events.

“What was great today was to see the young riders here interacting with the stars and trying to get a tip or two from them.

“My hope is that the scene here will grow. As of now, not many in Singapore know about the sport, but the best way to change that is to ensure we are seen and events like these help us a lot.”

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