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The History of Water Ski Racing in Britain

The History of Water Ski Racing in Britain


A number of decades in advance of the war, an aquaplane race was run on an yearly basis from the isthmus at Avalon to Hermosa Seashore, California. It was a race and a examination of stamina for the two guy and boat and commonly considerably less than 20{a00e2a65948905ad150ce0b73b1a2569b7e687daf05a5ba82e14b7544a95be8e} of the area at any time managed to finish. The remainder dropped out because of to boat complications or since the aqua planer could not maintain on any lengthier. The very last race prior to the war, on June 20 1941, was gained by Bob Brown, towed by Don Berry, in a time of 1 hr 51 min.

In 1947, the Extended Beach Boat and Ski Club was formed and pretty much immediately took over sponsorship of the race, renaming it the “Grand National Water Ski Race”. In 1949 the contest turned a spherical excursion run, starting up at Hermosa Beach front pier, the skiers raced to the isthmus, circled a turn-boat and returned non-quit to the pier. A skier was disqualified if at any time they touched the boat or any individual in the boat. Ed Stanley of Orange was the winner of this first spherical trip race with a time of I hr 41 min.

Of training course, this function is well recognized these days as Catalina, and just for the file, Chuck Steams 1st received the celebration at the age of 16 and he went on to gain it a staggering eleven moments above the subsequent couple of decades.


Now it was time for the Aussies to build a piece of historical past in ski racing and in the 1950’s, the Bridge-to-Bridge H2o Ski Race was launched. The 68-mile program on the NSW Hawkesbury River is now 1 of the most prestigious races in the planet.


In 1966, Britain created a shift to get concerned in the activity of water ski racing and a conference took place at the Mandeville Hotel in London, wherever 30 clubs were being represented and a Racing sub-committee of the BWSF was shaped. The legendary Chuck Steams of California took place to be in London at the time and he delivered a duplicate of the Californian racing rulebook, which shaped the basis for British racing guidelines.

Alan Taylor recollects “we understood that racing had taken place in Belgium a few or 4 many years earlier, on the Scheldt at a place known as Rupelmonde. The next yr, a few people today from Whitstable Club went to Belgium and had a glance at this race and we invited a Belgian group to compete in the initial formal cross-channel race”.

On May possibly, 29 1967, the Whitstable and Varne Club drinking water ski clubs organised the 1st cross-channel water ski race and no fewer than 56 teams, like 1 from Belgium, took element in the 42 mile run from Greatstone, Kent, to a trawler marker-boat, anchored three miles off Cap Griz Nez and back again.

Boats ended up allowed to consider up to a few or 4 men and women to ski in relays. The skis ended up ordinary normal slalom skis for speeds of all-around 30 mph, as effectively as pairs, and the ski line had to be among 75 ft and 100 ft in length. Teams were being also permitted to relay with extra than 1 skier per workforce.

Information quickly leaked that skier 47 registered, as Mr. A.A.Johnson was non other than the Earl of Snowdon, patron of the BWSF, trying to maintain his id from the Press. The end result was extraordinary information protection of the function.

Much more than 20 of the 56 entrants failed to end the race because of to a gale, which whipped up 6 ft high waves. The winners have been associates of the Chasewater Power Boat Club, and they accomplished the class in 3 hr 15 min. The Snowdon workforce came in fourth at 4 hr 10 min and yet another skier in the race was a 14-calendar year-previous Invoice Rixon. Getting 3rd put in general, this was just the commencing for a person who was to grow to be 1 of the legends in British water ski racing.

In 1968 the BWSF Racing Committee organised the very first British Championship series, run at Chasewater, Greatsone, Hunstanton, Hartlepool, Penarth and the River Medway. John Boardman of the Varne club turned the to start with sequence champion.

In 1969, the British Championship series was improved to eight races and was received by Brendan Bowles of Penarth club. It was in this 12 months that European H2o Ski Racing Championships ended up established and races were being held in Holland, Belgium and Britain. Monthly bill Rixon turned the initial European Drinking water Ski Racing Winner.


Rixon began generating his mark on European racing in the 70s with no significantly less than 6 total European Championship gold medals among the several British too. Invoice mentioned, “it can be attainable there are even an additional two European titles not accounted for”. In 1974/5 he invested a lot of time in Italy skiing for Mostes, and he compensated a handful of disapproved visits to South Africa and also strike the racing scene in California.

Other names such as David Hutchinson, Man Gooding, David Martin, Robin Mainwaring, Cliff Featherstone, Alan Hargreaves, Tony Cox, Gary Brooks and Colin Harris were scattered all over the 70s when British F1 ski racing was as robust as at any time.

Two other names were brothers Steven and Andy Coe. Steven gained the British Championships in 1978 and 1979 and Andy adopted accommodate in 1980 with Tom Lumley observing for all individuals a few title wins. Britain’s prime ladies provided Liz Hobbs, Sue de Donker and Kim Gooding.

Liz experienced commenced skiing when she was 9, and by 15, she was experienced skied in her initially race on the Medway in 1975. The next 12 months, she went on to get each individual race she entered & gained the to start with of 7 British titles. In the very same calendar year, she broke the women’s British and European speed information at the rear of a Cigarette powerboat known as, “I like it much too”.

In the course of the 70’s, a number of British skiers, which include the Coes, had visited Australia and discovered a new way of skiing referred to as, ‘wrapping’. Terry Bennett of Sydney was the title powering wrapping and he discovered the system purely by accident, when hoping to simple the strain on his back, right after struggling an accident. So along with Fred Williams race skis, and a prosperity of Aussie working experience, these British skiers launched us to the way we all now ski – wrapped.

Together with Ray Berriman and Alan Taylor, other people such as Arthur Dawe, Peter Felix, Ted Rawlings, Wally Neale and John Hoiles were being early organizers of British racing. John Hoiles basically went on to be European and Globe President of the IWSF, and contributed a excellent offer to the activity.

A turning issue in entire world drinking water ski racing arrived on September 9, 1979, when the initial entire world racing championships sponsored by Sperry Univac were held, with races at Whitstable, Allhallows and Welsh Harp. Britain’s Ray Berriman chaired the organising committee.

The occasion was the initial to carry together official best groups from all-around the world, and though Australia’s Wayne Ritchie and Bronwyn Wing snapped up the golds, Britain’s Kim Gooding took 2nd in the women’s, Invoice Rixon 2nd in the men’s and Steven Coe 3rd. The British group plainly established Britain as a pressure to be reckoned with on the planet h2o ski racing stage.


As Rixon neared the stop of his unprecedented racing career, it was time for some new names to climb on to the stage and delight in the limelight. Liz Hobbs and Steve Moore were the two significant names in the early 80’s and both of those went on to grow to be earth champions and to be awarded the MBE. In point Liz gained the title of entire world champion in 1981 and 1984, and she won the European championship title at the very least 4 times.

But lifetime in the 80s was not so sweet for Liz, even with her incredible achievements, because at Penarth in 1984, she fell and broke her neck. She also broke her sternum in three destinations, 6 ribs, a single of which punctured a lung. On major of that, Liz’s coronary heart stopped.

Amazingly, Liz was back again on a ski the next calendar year and back again on her profitable streak in 1986. Afterwards in the 80s she was nominated for the athletics persona of the calendar year award and she gained the sports writers of the year award. Following climbing onto the public stage with the assist of a publicist a couple decades previously, Liz went on to host her personal Television set collection with Yorkshire Television termed “Hobbs Option”, and since then, has develop into a person of the most publicly acknowledged waterskiers in the world.

Steve Moore began racing in 1980. He was the dude that fell, but received up, then fell again but always obtained up. Finally he stopped falling and was an remarkable equipment on the h2o. By 1983 he experienced attempted a velocity file at Windermere behind Alf Bullen’s F1 catamaran, but fell at 115mph.

Moore gained no significantly less than 5 European titles, five British titles and the 1988 earth championships in Sydney, Australia. He also won the Globe Cup in 1986. This consisted of the Catalina, Giro del Lario and Botany Bay Basic in Australia. He received all three and in the similar yr, and turned the 1st British skier to earn Catalina outright.

Snapping at Moore’s heels in the late 80s was a youthful lad from London who skied in his initially race in 1977. His identify was Darren Kirkland and at the tender age of 18, Kirkland 1st represented Britain at the environment championships in Spain, in 1985 and is about to enter his 8th environment championship function in 2001.

With the Coes, Rixon, Cliff Featherstone, Paul Llewellyn, Gary Brooks, Tony Cox and other individuals combating for victory all over the decade, the 80s performed host to some unbelievable races throughout Britain. Nicky Carpenter and Lisa Coupland have been also profitable names in the 80s.


As the prosperous 80s light absent, the economic decrease observed numbers in racing drop. In Europe, Australia and the Usa, a identical pattern occurred, but this did not avoid the sport from turning out to be even far more competitive in phrases of the dedication provided to earn some of the limelight.

Kirkland went on to earn his honest share of it and has nearly dominated British racing because the 90s. Displaying the persistence he’s renowned for, Kirkland experienced racked up 10 overall British titles, five European titles and turned a very well-respected skier throughout the environment. On major of that, Kirkland gained Catalina in 1994, the gruelling Diamond race in Belgium, an enviable six instances and Italy’s Giro del Lario, two times.

But the jewel in the crown has eluded him for the previous 16 many years. The entire world title has been so in close proximity to and nevertheless so far, from the person who arrived so close to profitable it on more than a single occasion. In 1995, Italy’s Stefano Gregorio took the honours in Belgium, just as Kirkland considered he had the title wrapped up. In 1997 he took 3rd in Australia and in 1999 he took 2nd in Spain. This 12 months he will try out after yet again, to acquire the a person achievement he would like so substantially.

In January 1997, Kirkland was awarded the BWSF Standard Lascelles Trophy in recognition of his large achievements in the sport of water skiing. And at the 1999 world championships, gold medallist Stephen Robertson of Australia compensated community tribute to Kirkland right after getting his crown.

The early 90s saw Rachel Casson put on an exceptional efficiency at the 1991 entire world championships in Darwin, Australia. So close to wining a single of the rounds, Rachel fell at in excess of 100mph and suffered horrendous injuries. Established to succeed on the environment stage, Rachel turned Britain’s top women’s skier, but was dogged by the Darwin damage in excess of the decades. Gilly Clements was also a solid contender in the 80s and 90s, representing Britain on a lot of events.


Above the years Britain has been incredibly strong in Europe, successful many titles in all groups, which includes the a lot-coveted group trophy at minimum 4 times. Wonderful performances by a lot of but notably in the women’s category by Liz Hobbs, Nicky Carpenter, Lisa Coupland, Rachel Casson, Gilli Clements. More lately Kim Lumley has engraved her title on the British championship trophy three moments now. Paula Newland, initially from Penarth club, has also been up there and secured a 6th in the 1999 globe championships in Spain.

Darren Kirkland nevertheless dominates the men’s category in Britain but the likes Karl Brooks and Danny Evans are little by little closing in on the 34 year aged. How extended will he keep his spot at the major of British racing? – only time will tell.

On the formal facet of things, Britain’s Ray Berriman, who was instrumental in the pretty very first environment championships in Britain back in 1979, is Chief Decide at the 2001 earth championships in Las Vegas this calendar year.

It truly is been difficult to point out all people who have played a part in Britain’s heritage of drinking water ski racing in this article. There are so many names unmentioned. But this short article has with any luck , presented you a substantial level see of drinking water ski racing and it really is previous.

All in all, Britain continues to play a key position in the planet ski racing. It will without doubt proceed to do so over the coming several years.

Composed 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 Book of Waterskiing.