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Globetrotting water-skiers rave about Moomba

Current world champion, Chile’s Felipe Miranda, left, with brother and fellow water-skier on the world circuit Rodrigo Miranda. Photo: Chris HopkinsMelburnians love to deride the Yarra River as brown, dirty and unswimmable.
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But world champion water-skier Felipe Miranda’s face lights up at first mention of our upside-down waterway, on which he is competing for the Moomba Masters.

Miranda, 28, of Chile, describes ripping around buoys in the slalom course between Swan and Princes street bridges, in the middle of the Moomba festival, as bliss.

“It’s just one special place to be,” he says. “Look at where we are, we’re in the middle of the town, with all this crowd cheering for you and hoping you do good.”

Miranda and his brother Rodrigo, 33, are among about 80 overseas athletes who have flown in for the Moomba Masters from as far as Canada, Sweden and Peru. The brothers run a water-skiing school south of Santiago, and the Chilean government sponsors them to travel to about 10 overseas competitions a year.

On for six days and ending on Monday, Moomba Masters hasn’t got the lucrative cash rewards of the Grand Prix or the Australian Open tennis. The winners of the men’s slalom, tricks and jumps each gets $7000.

It is run entirely by volunteers but is the world’s second most prestigious water-skiing competition and a popular fixture of Moomba for 56 years.

Fran Hynes an unpaid organiser of 25 years, says competitors are “very appreciative of the people of Melbourne who are always interested in the water-skiing. And it is the greatest amphitheatre. I’ve travelled around, and the crowds are the biggest crowds that watch.”

Felipe Miranda says Moomba is “an amazing event and it’s really challenging. The river goes up and down, you’ve got current, you’ve got little rollers.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the water. You go out and it can be a perfect day, you’re skiing amazing and then you’re in the water.”

While Felipe is competing in slalom, jumps and tricks at Moomba, Rodrigo is concentrating this year on jumps.

Rodrigo said that on Saturday night, Melbourne’s Chilean community came to cheer them. “It was pretty fun. And we enjoy to be in the city. It’s hard normally to compete in the city. Normally [in other cities] you have to go 30, 40 minutes away.”

When asked about river pollution, he said:  “I don’t want to know. I just ski. Whatever in the water, I’m thinking about what I have to do, I don’t think about the water, whether it’s dirty, clean, I just have to do my stuff and don’t worry about he rest.”

MOOMBA – WHAT’S ON.

MONDAY

Moomba Parade, Swanston Street – 11am

Ashton’s Circus – four shows a day at 11.30am, 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm

VANS Drop Your Hammers Skateboard Competition – 3pm-9pm at Riverslide Skate Park

Men’s and women’s night water-ski jump – 8pm

Hoodoo Gurus on main stage – 8.30pm

Fireworks – 9.30pm

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