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Event a success, despite assaults

South Australian competitior Lachlan Burgess, 22, was a finalist in the Monster Energy ProWake Show on the Clarence River at Grafton.
South Australian competitior Lachlan Burgess, 22, was a finalist in the Monster Energy ProWake Show on the Clarence River at Grafton. Debrah Novak

TWO visiting wakeboarders, one of them a world-ranked champion from the US, were assaulted late Saturday following the Monster Energy ProWake Show.

In what threatens to overshadow an otherwise successful event, police were called to an alleged headbutting outside Roches Hotel, Grafton, about midnight on Saturday.

Inspector Joanne Reid said police were on their way to the Victoria St hotel when they noticed a “large group” making its way towards the Crown Hotel in Prince St.

“We then watched an assault happen,” Insp Reid said.

“We took chase but lost him ... We were able to identify him from witnesses.”

Insp Reid said the second incident involved a punch to the face of a Queensland man.

She said the offender had been contacted by police but, as of late yesterday afternoon, had not presented himself to the Grafton station.

The first victim is understood to be well-known Californian wakeboarder Danny Harf, who is ranked in the top 10 wakeboarders in the world.

It is understood Mr Harf had his arm in a sling after a collar-bone operation last week.

A witness said he believed Mr Harf was headbutted in the face and suffered a broken nose in the assault.

Police are seeking witnesses in relation to the first incident.

The second victim is believed to be a young Queensland wakeboard competitor.

Clearly upset at the treatment of his American guest, Monster Energy ProWake Show organiser Daniel Watkins said the incident was totally unexpected and uncharacteristic of his experience of the Grafton community.

“I really like this area and I really want to come back here,” he said.

“We have travelled the world and we never get into fights.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support we have received from the Clarence Valley Council and the community in general.”

More than 1000 people gathered on Grafton's riverbank on Saturday afternoon for the town's first taste of international wakeboarding and, judging by the raucous applause, the crowd liked what it saw.

Mr Watkins, who placed fifth overall in the event, said despite the lower than anticipated turnout, the event was a success and he would be back in 2012.

Up for grabs was $6000 in prizemoney and some big names in the game fell to some young Aussie wakeboarders.

Honours went to 22-year-old Brenton Priestley, of Melbourne, with Cory Teunissen, 14, of Brisbane, taking second spot and Dylan Prideaux, 16, of the Gold Coast, third.


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