Six Against the World

Words: Justin Selby | Photos & Video: Courtesy of the SA team


During winter 2012, I was approached by the Cable Association of South Africa (CASA) to put a side together for the 2012 Cable Wakeboard World Championship as part of the global community's drive to get the sport included in the 2020 Olympics. "Yes, of course," I said. Who wouldn’t! Leading up to the event the task of selecting a side was not an easy one, as the championship fell smack bang in the middle of exams and this would be a problem for some of the Open Men riders. So after reviewing my strategy and doing extensive research into the international competition, I selected a team of riders that the world hadn’t seen or heard of - yet! They were all extremely talented and the fact that they were not well known was an ace up my sleeve, as our competitors wouldn't take us seriously.

Six Against the World

The final side selected for the championship was as follows:

• Boy's division (6-16) - Jarque Labuschagne and Jeanu du Plooy
• Junior Men's division - Cameron Grahame
• Open Men's division - Jason Colborne
• Wake Skate Open Men's division - Matt Buys
• Master Men's division - Justin Selby


After months of hard work and preparation, we were all in high spirits as we boarded the plane destined for the Philippines. The event was held at Deca Wakeboard Park in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga, and wow, what a sight it was. It was a brand new cable park, with the cable at 11 metres off the water. We were in for a treat as our cable is only eight metres off the water; it was time to fly and have us some FUN! But first we had to pay our entrance fees and book some practise time, and boy was it hot, with humidity at 100%.


I can’t tell you what an awesome feeling it was to be there as representatives of South Africa and have all the international riders check us out. They were probably wondering if the South Africans even have a cable, especially with those man-eating lions roaming around. LOL. They had no clue as to the level of talent we have in our fantastic country.


As the competition progressed the South African riders proved their worth on the world’s platform, with three of the six riders qualifying. Then it was my turn. Man, I was all nerves when the commentator announced my name above the noise of my teammates loudly proclaiming their presence and support by blowing their vuvazelas. I started my lap and can clearly remember thinking to myself that I mustn't fall. So I lined myself up for the first trick, boom landed it and then moved onto the next trick. I styled the third and fourth, and on the fifth I landed on the corner and had to hold on for dear life. Then whaaaaaaam, a front edge right in front of everybody, and I was down. Even under water I could hear the commentator saying, “Man, that was hard. Is he okay?” I started to laugh and then surfaced to let everyone know I was ok and ready for the next round.


I was really cross with myself for not qualifying, as all I had to do was perform a safe run - why oh why! As a result of not qualifying, I had to participate in the Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ) that took place the next day. That night I gathered my thoughts and prepared myself mentally for what I needed to do at the LCQ, knowing that only the top two would go through.


The next morning I anxiously made my way to the LCQ knowing that I only had one pass in which to prove myself, so I had to make it count. I did my pass, kept it safe and smashed it! I was so happy. Walking back from the end point of my run, I could hear the live score updates being announced, and as there were still two more riders to go, my nerves started to kick in again and I was holding thumbs that both riders would go out. Waiting for their scores to come in was torture, and then I heard what I had been hoping to hear, I was in second place, wooohoo.


I had made the top eight in the world going into the finals! Wow, what a feeling, but how does one prepare oneself for something like that? The only thing I had to fall back on was my previous experience in international competitions, so it would be case of digging deep, having fun, and taking one step at a time. All through the night all I could think about was what I should do in my final run, which comprised of two passes and the judges would select the best of the two.


Despite not having much sleep, I was on high alert as I waited for the finals to get underway. The moment of truth had arrived and it was time for me to start my first pass. To be in contention, I knew I had to keep it safe all the way to the end. I was the fourth rider out of the dock and felt surprisingly relaxed. As I took off, the air erupted with the sound of vuvuzelas from my teammates, and I felt my confidence growing. I completed my pass safely and waited for the results. I was in first place, but there were still four more riders to go out for their first passes. Each of them completed their pass, which pushed me into fifth. It was not over yet, as I still had one more pass and a few tricks up my sleeve, LOL.


With tension mounting I entered the dock for my second pass, ready to pull all those tricks that I had been holding back out of the bag. What followed was my first big tantrum off the kicker and onto the roof top rail for a board slide, followed by a back flip out as I set myself up for a heelside front flip tail grab to facky. Rounding the corner I performed a half cab backroll that positioned me perfectly for a huge front flip tail grab, landing just in time for the corner. My next move was my piece de resistance, an S-send to blind stomping onto the fun box, with a transfer to the rainbow rail landing, which I pulled off with ease. After catching my breath, I headed towards the last obstacle, a kicker, on my run. Cutting hard, I hit the kicker at pace, launching high to pull off and land a shiffy blind 360 boom and complete my pass. All around me I could hear the crowds and vuvuzelas going wild. Lying fifth before my second run, I nervously waited for the scores. The announcement finally came, "Justin Selby on 60.00 has moved up into third place." I jumped with joy and my teammates came running to congratulate me, almost knocking me off my feet in the process. It was high fives all around and I couldn't have been happier with my result, and a bronze medal for South Africa.


Overall, I couldn't have been prouder of my team! Out of 32 countries, some of which had 25 athletes in their sides, our six South African riders had taken on the world and placed 10th. Germany took the top podium spot, with Great Britain in second place and France in third. Our team positions were as follows: Jarque and Jason didn’t qualify; Jeanu qualified and finished in the top 10 in the world; Cameron qualified and finished in the top 15 in the world; and Matt finished fifth in the world. And what had really impressed me about the whole event was the level of riding from the junior riders, the future of this sport.


The life lesson that I took away from this incredible event was that no matter what, who, how or when, you must just believe in yourself and the best results will follow. Maybe, just maybe you could have done better, but it was your best at the time.



Cable Wakeboarding
Cable wakeboarding is wakeboarding while being pulled by an overhead cable ski system. It’s a very cool addition to the distinguished list of extreme sports throughout the world because it combines the best of the extreme nature of wakeboarding without the need for (or expense of) a boat. The first cable system showed up in 1962, and today cable is an enormously valuable and important element of the entire sport of wakeboarding.


Boat and cable riding are very similar. Although the tricks are the same, cable has more lift and airtime for bigger tricks. But from a spectator’s point of view, cable is the better viewing experience as it's designed in a rectangular shape so that everyone can see what is happening on the water. If you can’t afford a boat and love water sports, cable water skiing is the better option.


Cableways in SA
Forever Resorts Bela Bela, Warmbaths (installed 1995); Stoke City Midrand, Johannesburg (installed 1998); and Blue Rock Cable Way, Somerset West, Cape Town (installed 2005).


2014 Cable Wakeboard World Championship, Norway
Looking towards the 2014 championship, the South African team has already started their training, especially with the junior riders. In addition, they are keeping a very close eye on the competition and any new tricks out there, by studying posts on social networks and videos posted by the overseas riders. During our winter, the riders will also compete on the European tour.


For more boat and cable wakeboarding information, visit or join our Facebook page.


Issue 21 Jan '13