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The Historical past of Drinking water Ski Racing in Britain

The Historical past of Drinking water Ski Racing in Britain


Various many years just before the war, an aquaplane race was operate on an annual basis from the isthmus at Avalon to Hermosa Seaside, California. It was a race and a examination of stamina for the two gentleman and boat and normally much less than 20% of the discipline at any time managed to finish. The remainder dropped out thanks to boat complications or due to the fact the aqua planer couldn’t maintain on any longer. The final race prior to the war, on June 20 1941, was received by Bob Brown, towed by Don Berry, in a time of 1 hr 51 min.

In 1947, the Extensive Beach Boat and Ski Club was shaped and almost straight away took in excess of sponsorship of the race, renaming it the “Grand Nationwide Water Ski Race”. In 1949 the contest grew to become a spherical trip operate, starting at Hermosa Beach front pier, the skiers raced to the isthmus, circled a switch-boat and returned non-cease to the pier. A skier was disqualified if at any time they touched the boat or everyone in the boat. Ed Stanley of Orange was the winner of this initially round vacation race with a time of I hr 41 min.

Of training course, this function is well identified these days as Catalina, and just for the record, Chuck Steams very first gained the occasion at the age of 16 and he went on to acquire it a staggering eleven instances in excess of the future couple of decades.


Now it was time for the Aussies to build a piece of history in ski racing and in the 1950’s, the Bridge-to-Bridge Water Ski Race was launched. The 68-mile course on the NSW Hawkesbury River is now 1 of the most prestigious races in the globe.


In 1966, Britain made a shift to get involved in the activity of drinking water ski racing and a conference took place at the Mandeville Resort in London, exactly where 30 golf equipment have been represented and a Racing sub-committee of the BWSF was shaped. The famous Chuck Steams of California transpired to be in London at the time and he presented a copy of the Californian racing rulebook, which formed the basis for British racing policies.

Alan Taylor recalls “we understood that racing experienced taken position in Belgium three or 4 several years earlier, on the Scheldt at a put known as Rupelmonde. The adhering to calendar year, a few people today from Whitstable Club went to Belgium and experienced a appear at this race and we invited a Belgian team to contend in the first official cross-channel race”.

On May perhaps, 29 1967, the Whitstable and Varne Club drinking water ski golf equipment organised the to start with cross-channel water ski race and no a lot less than 56 groups, like one from Belgium, took element in the 42 mile operate from Greatstone, Kent, to a trawler marker-boat, anchored 3 miles off Cap Griz Nez and back.

Boats were being authorized to choose up to a few or four men and women to ski in relays. The skis have been normal regular slalom skis for speeds of about 30 mph, as very well as pairs, and the ski line experienced to be involving 75 ft and 100 ft in size. Groups have been also authorized to relay with extra than just one skier for each team.

Information shortly leaked that skier 47 registered, as Mr. A.A.Johnson was non other than the Earl of Snowdon, patron of the BWSF, attempting to maintain his identity from the Press. The final result was dramatic information coverage of the celebration.

Additional than 20 of the 56 entrants failed to complete the race because of to a gale, which whipped up 6 ft significant waves. The winners were being members of the Chasewater Energy Boat Club, and they concluded the course in 3 hr 15 min. The Snowdon group arrived in fourth at 4 hr 10 min and yet another skier in the race was a 14-year-aged Bill Rixon. Having 3rd spot over-all, this was just the starting for an individual who was to turn out to be a person of the legends in British drinking water ski racing.

In 1968 the BWSF Racing Committee organised the 1st British Championship sequence, operate at Chasewater, Greatsone, Hunstanton, Hartlepool, Penarth and the River Medway. John Boardman of the Varne club grew to become the initially sequence winner.

In 1969, the British Championship series was enhanced to eight races and was received by Brendan Bowles of Penarth club. It was in this 12 months that European Drinking water Ski Racing Championships have been established and races were held in Holland, Belgium and Britain. Bill Rixon grew to become the initially European Water Ski Racing Winner.


Rixon commenced making his mark on European racing in the 70s with no a lot less than six overall European Championship gold medals among the several British much too. Bill reported, “it is really probable there are even an additional two European titles not accounted for”. In 1974/5 he invested a good deal of time in Italy snowboarding for Mostes, and he compensated a couple disapproved visits to South Africa and also strike the racing scene in California.

Other names this sort of as David Hutchinson, Dude Gooding, David Martin, Robin Mainwaring, Cliff Featherstone, Alan Hargreaves, Tony Cox, Gary Brooks and Colin Harris were being scattered during the 70s when British F1 ski racing was as sturdy as ever.

Two other names were brothers Steven and Andy Coe. Steven gained the British Championships in 1978 and 1979 and Andy adopted go well with in 1980 with Tom Lumley observing for all people three title wins. Britain’s top rated women of all ages bundled Liz Hobbs, Sue de Donker and Kim Gooding.

Liz experienced started out skiing when she was 9, and by 15, she was experienced skied in her first race on the Medway in 1975. The pursuing year, she went on to win each and every race she entered & gained the very first of seven British titles. In the same yr, she broke the women’s British and European speed records behind a Cigarette powerboat identified as, “I like it way too”.

For the duration of the 70’s, a few British skiers, like the Coes, had frequented Australia and discovered a new way of skiing identified as, ‘wrapping’. Terry Bennett of Sydney was the name powering wrapping and he discovered the technique purely by incident, when attempting to easy the pressure on his back again, immediately after suffering an incident. So together with Fred Williams race skis, and a wealth of Aussie experience, these British skiers launched us to the way we all now ski – wrapped.

Together with Ray Berriman and Alan Taylor, other folks these types of as Arthur Dawe, Peter Felix, Ted Rawlings, Wally Neale and John Hoiles ended up early organizers of British racing. John Hoiles essentially went on to be European and Earth President of the IWSF, and contributed a excellent offer to the sport.

A turning point in earth drinking water ski racing came on September 9, 1979, when the first globe racing championships sponsored by Sperry Univac had been held, with races at Whitstable, Allhallows and Welsh Harp. Britain’s Ray Berriman chaired the organising committee.

The event was the first to deliver with each other formal top groups from all over the environment, and while Australia’s Wayne Ritchie and Bronwyn Wing snapped up the golds, Britain’s Kim Gooding took 2nd in the women’s, Monthly bill Rixon 2nd in the men’s and Steven Coe 3rd. The British group plainly recognized Britain as a force to be reckoned with on the globe drinking water ski racing phase.


As Rixon neared the conclusion of his unprecedented racing career, it was time for some new names to climb on to the stage and appreciate the limelight. Liz Hobbs and Steve Moore were the two big names in the early 80’s and both equally went on to turn out to be world champions and to be awarded the MBE. In point Liz received the title of entire world winner in 1981 and 1984, and she won the European championship title at minimum four moments.

But lifestyle in the 80s was not so sweet for Liz, inspite of her unbelievable results, mainly because at Penarth in 1984, she fell and broke her neck. She also broke her sternum in three sites, 6 ribs, just one of which punctured a lung. On major of that, Liz’s coronary heart stopped.

Surprisingly, Liz was back again on a ski the pursuing yr and back on her profitable streak in 1986. Later on in the 80s she was nominated for the sports character of the calendar year award and she won the athletics writers of the yr award. After climbing onto the public stage with the assistance of a publicist a number of many years earlier, Liz went on to host her have Television series with Yorkshire Tv called “Hobbs Choice”, and given that then, has develop into 1 of the most publicly acknowledged waterskiers in the entire world.

Steve Moore commenced racing in 1980. He was the guy that fell, but got up, then fell once again but generally obtained up. Eventually he stopped slipping and was an extraordinary equipment on the drinking water. By 1983 he experienced attempted a velocity record at Windermere powering Alf Bullen’s F1 catamaran, but fell at 115mph.

Moore gained no a lot less than five European titles, 5 British titles and the 1988 globe championships in Sydney, Australia. He also gained the Earth Cup in 1986. This consisted of the Catalina, Giro del Lario and Botany Bay Vintage in Australia. He won all 3 and in the exact same year, and became the first British skier to win Catalina outright.

Snapping at Moore’s heels in the late 80s was a young lad from London who skied in his first race in 1977. His identify was Darren Kirkland and at the tender age of 18, Kirkland initially represented Britain at the entire world championships in Spain, in 1985 and is about to enter his 8th entire world championship party in 2001.

With the Coes, Rixon, Cliff Featherstone, Paul Llewellyn, Gary Brooks, Tony Cox and many others preventing for victory during the decade, the 80s performed host to some unbelievable races throughout Britain. Nicky Carpenter and Lisa Coupland were being also prosperous names in the 80s.


As the prosperous 80s faded absent, the economic decline saw quantities in racing fall. In Europe, Australia and the United states of america, a comparable sample transpired, but this failed to stop the sport from getting to be even far more aggressive in terms of the commitment provided to win some of the limelight.

Kirkland went on to acquire his good share of it and has nearly dominated British racing considering that the 90s. Displaying the persistence he is renowned for, Kirkland had racked up 10 over-all British titles, five European titles and grew to become a effectively-respected skier in the course of the world. On prime of that, Kirkland received Catalina in 1994, the gruelling Diamond race in Belgium, an enviable 6 times and Italy’s Giro del Lario, two times.

But the jewel in the crown has eluded him for the last 16 years. The globe title has been so near and yet so much, from the male who arrived so near to winning it on extra than one event. In 1995, Italy’s Stefano Gregorio took the honours in Belgium, just as Kirkland imagined he experienced the title wrapped up. In 1997 he took 3rd in Australia and in 1999 he took 2nd in Spain. This 12 months he will attempt after all over again, to win the one accomplishment he would like so substantially.

In January 1997, Kirkland was awarded the BWSF Typical Lascelles Trophy in recognition of his remarkable achievements in the activity of h2o skiing. And at the 1999 entire world championships, gold medallist Stephen Robertson of Australia compensated general public tribute to Kirkland after obtaining his crown.

The early 90s noticed Rachel Casson place on an outstanding functionality at the 1991 environment championships in Darwin, Australia. So near to wining just one of the rounds, Rachel fell at more than 100mph and endured horrendous injuries. Decided to realize success on the entire world stage, Rachel turned Britain’s top women’s skier, but was dogged by the Darwin personal injury around the several years. Gilly Clements was also a robust contender in the 80s and 90s, symbolizing Britain on numerous occasions.


Around the yrs Britain has been incredibly sturdy in Europe, successful plenty of titles in all classes, such as the a lot-coveted group trophy at minimum 4 periods. Amazing performances by a lot of but notably in the women’s category by Liz Hobbs, Nicky Carpenter, Lisa Coupland, Rachel Casson, Gilli Clements. A lot more not too long ago Kim Lumley has engraved her name on the British championship trophy 3 occasions now. Paula Newland, originally from Penarth club, has also been up there and secured a 6th in the 1999 earth championships in Spain.

Darren Kirkland still dominates the men’s category in Britain but the likes Karl Brooks and Danny Evans are gradually closing in on the 34 calendar year previous. How lengthy will he retain his place at the leading of British racing? – only time will inform.

On the formal side of factors, Britain’s Ray Berriman, who was instrumental in the extremely to start with globe championships in Britain again in 1979, is Main Choose at the 2001 earth championships in Las Vegas this 12 months.

It really is been difficult to point out all these who have performed a component in Britain’s background of water ski racing right here. There are so numerous names unmentioned. But this article has with any luck , given you a superior amount look at of water ski racing and it is previous.

All in all, Britain proceeds to engage in a important position in the environment ski racing. It will without doubt carry on to do so above the coming a long time.

Published in 2001 by Robbie Llewellyn

With thanks to: Aubrey Sheena, Alan Taylor, Darren Kirkland, Steve Moore (MBE), Mike Waterman, Martin Brooks, Tom Lumley, Liz Hobbs (MBE) and the Guinness E-book of Waterskiing.