The Heritage of Water Ski Racing in Britain

The Heritage of Water Ski Racing in Britain


Quite a few several years in advance of the war, an aquaplane race was operate on an annual foundation from the isthmus at Avalon to Hermosa Seashore, California. It was a race and a exam of stamina for both guy and boat and usually significantly less than 20{4b1fe63123713d31487550d3441c07e511f9c896d21719779d3ce493da6269bd} of the subject ever managed to finish. The remainder dropped out due to boat difficulties or mainly because the aqua planer could not maintain on any for a longer period. The last 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 Extended Seaside Boat and Ski Club was fashioned and practically promptly took in excess of sponsorship of the race, renaming it the “Grand Nationwide H2o Ski Race”. In 1949 the contest turned a round journey run, starting up at Hermosa Beach pier, the skiers raced to the isthmus, circled a convert-boat and returned non-halt to the pier. A skier was disqualified if at any time they touched the boat or any person 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 system, this party is well recognized these times as Catalina, and just for the history, Chuck Steams 1st won the party at the age of 16 and he went on to gain it a staggering eleven instances over the up coming handful of a long time.


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 Drinking water Ski Race was released. The 68-mile training course on the NSW Hawkesbury River is now 1 of the most prestigious races in the globe.


In 1966, Britain made a move to get involved in the activity of drinking water ski racing and a meeting took area at the Mandeville Hotel in London, wherever 30 golf equipment have been represented and a Racing sub-committee of the BWSF was fashioned. The famous Chuck Steams of California occurred to be in London at the time and he presented a copy of the Californian racing rulebook, which shaped the foundation for British racing policies.

Alan Taylor remembers “we understood that racing experienced taken area in Belgium 3 or four decades before, on the Scheldt at a place called Rupelmonde. The adhering to calendar year, a couple of people today from Whitstable Club went to Belgium and experienced a glance at this race and we invited a Belgian staff to contend in the initially formal cross-channel race”.

On Might, 29 1967, the Whitstable and Varne Club h2o ski golf equipment organised the to start with cross-channel water ski race and no considerably less than 56 groups, which include just one from Belgium, took aspect in the 42 mile operate from Greatstone, Kent, to a trawler marker-boat, anchored 3 miles off Cap Griz Nez and back.

Boats ended up allowed to acquire up to three or four individuals to ski in relays. The skis have been common typical slalom skis for speeds of about 30 mph, as nicely as pairs, and the ski line had to be among 75 ft and 100 ft in size. Groups had been also permitted to relay with additional than 1 skier for each staff.

Information before long leaked that skier 47 registered, as Mr. A.A.Johnson was non other than the Earl of Snowdon, patron of the BWSF, attempting to hold his id from the Press. The outcome was remarkable information coverage of the event.

Much more than 20 of the 56 entrants failed to complete the race thanks to a gale, which whipped up 6 ft significant waves. The winners ended up associates of the Chasewater Power Boat Club, and they concluded the program in 3 hr 15 min. The Snowdon workforce arrived in fourth at 4 hr 10 min and a further skier in the race was a 14-year-aged Monthly bill Rixon. Having 3rd area over-all, this was just the beginning for another person who was to turn out to be just one of the legends in British water ski racing.

In 1968 the BWSF Racing Committee organised the 1st British Championship sequence, run at Chasewater, Greatsone, Hunstanton, Hartlepool, Penarth and the River Medway. John Boardman of the Varne club grew to become the to start with collection champion.

In 1969, the British Championship collection was improved to 8 races and was gained by Brendan Bowles of Penarth club. It was in this yr that European Drinking water Ski Racing Championships were being set up and races were being held in Holland, Belgium and Britain. Monthly bill Rixon turned the initially European H2o Ski Racing Winner.


Rixon commenced producing his mark on European racing in the 70s with no less than 6 in general European Championship gold medals among the various British far too. Invoice mentioned, “it can be attainable there are even another two European titles not accounted for”. In 1974/5 he invested a good deal of time in Italy snowboarding for Mostes, and he paid a handful of disapproved visits to South Africa and also strike the racing scene in California.

Other names such 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 powerful as ever.

Two other names ended up brothers Steven and Andy Coe. Steven received the British Championships in 1978 and 1979 and Andy adopted suit in 1980 with Tom Lumley observing for all all those a few title wins. Britain’s leading ladies incorporated Liz Hobbs, Sue de Donker and Kim Gooding.

Liz had began snowboarding when she was 9, and by 15, she was experienced skied in her initially race on the Medway in 1975. The subsequent yr, she went on to gain each individual race she entered & won the to start with of seven British titles. In the similar calendar year, she broke the women’s British and European speed data behind a Cigarette powerboat called, “I like it too”.

Throughout the 70’s, a couple of British skiers, like the Coes, had visited Australia and discovered a new way of snowboarding called, ‘wrapping’. Terry Bennett of Sydney was the name at the rear of wrapping and he learned the method purely by incident, when trying to uncomplicated the pressure on his back, right after struggling an incident. So along with Fred Williams race skis, and a wealth of Aussie practical experience, these British skiers introduced us to the way we all now ski – wrapped.

Alongside with Ray Berriman and Alan Taylor, some others these types of as Arthur Dawe, Peter Felix, Ted Rawlings, Wally Neale and John Hoiles have been early organizers of British racing. John Hoiles basically went on to be European and Globe President of the IWSF, and contributed a fantastic deal to the activity.

A turning point in world h2o ski racing arrived on September 9, 1979, when the to start with planet 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 function was the first to bring together official best teams from all around the entire world, and even though 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 workforce plainly recognized Britain as a pressure to be reckoned with on the world water ski racing stage.


As Rixon neared the finish of his unparalleled racing job, it was time for some new names to climb on to the stage and appreciate the limelight. Liz Hobbs and Steve Moore had been the two major names in the early 80’s and both of those went on to become environment champions and to be awarded the MBE. In point Liz gained the title of earth winner in 1981 and 1984, and she received the European championship title at least four situations.

But life in the 80s wasn’t so sweet for Liz, irrespective of her outstanding success, mainly because at Penarth in 1984, she fell and broke her neck. She also broke her sternum in three spots, six ribs, 1 of which punctured a lung. On top rated of that, Liz’s heart stopped.

Amazingly, Liz was again on a ski the adhering to 12 months and again on her successful streak in 1986. Later in the 80s she was nominated for the athletics character of the year award and she won the sports activities writers of the 12 months award. Soon after climbing on to the public phase with the help of a publicist a handful of decades before, Liz went on to host her own Tv set sequence with Yorkshire Television identified as “Hobbs Preference”, and considering that then, has develop into 1 of the most publicly identified waterskiers in the globe.

Steve Moore started racing in 1980. He was the person that fell, but received up, then fell all over again but often obtained up. Finally he stopped slipping and was an remarkable equipment on the drinking water. By 1983 he had attempted a speed record at Windermere guiding Alf Bullen’s F1 catamaran, but fell at 115mph.

Moore gained no considerably less than 5 European titles, 5 British titles and the 1988 world championships in Sydney, Australia. He also won the Entire world Cup in 1986. This consisted of the Catalina, Giro del Lario and Botany Bay Vintage in Australia. He received all three and in the same 12 months, and grew to become the 1st British skier to gain Catalina outright.

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

With the Coes, Rixon, Cliff Featherstone, Paul Llewellyn, Gary Brooks, Tony Cox and other people preventing for victory all through the ten years, the 80s played host to some amazing races throughout Britain. Nicky Carpenter and Lisa Coupland ended up also effective names in the 80s.


As the prosperous 80s light absent, the economic drop saw numbers in racing fall. In Europe, Australia and the United states, a identical sample transpired, but this failed to stop the activity from turning into even additional competitive in phrases of the motivation offered to acquire some of the limelight.

Kirkland went on to acquire his good share of it and has practically dominated British racing given that the 90s. Displaying the persistence he is renowned for, Kirkland had racked up ten general British titles, 5 European titles and grew to become a nicely-highly regarded skier through the entire world. On top of that, Kirkland won Catalina in 1994, the gruelling Diamond race in Belgium, an enviable 6 instances and Italy’s Giro del Lario, two times.

But the jewel in the crown has eluded him for the very last 16 yrs. The globe title has been so in close proximity to and however so much, from the gentleman who arrived so shut to successful it on a lot more than just one celebration. 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 calendar year he will attempt as soon as once again, to earn the 1 accomplishment he desires so a great deal.

In January 1997, Kirkland was awarded the BWSF Basic Lascelles Trophy in recognition of his large achievements in the sport of drinking water snowboarding. And at the 1999 world championships, gold medallist Stephen Robertson of Australia paid community tribute to Kirkland following receiving his crown.

The early 90s noticed Rachel Casson set on an outstanding effectiveness at the 1991 earth championships in Darwin, Australia. So near to wining one of the rounds, Rachel fell at above 100mph and experienced horrendous injuries. Decided to be successful on the environment phase, Rachel turned Britain’s top rated women’s skier, but was dogged by the Darwin injury above the years. Gilly Clements was also a solid contender in the 80s and 90s, representing Britain on many situations.


Above the a long time Britain has been quite strong in Europe, profitable countless titles in all classes, which includes the a great deal-coveted workforce trophy at least 4 periods. Fabulous performances by many but notably in the women’s class by Liz Hobbs, Nicky Carpenter, Lisa Coupland, Rachel Casson, Gilli Clements. Far more a short while ago Kim Lumley has engraved her title on the British championship trophy 3 instances already. Paula Newland, originally from Penarth club, has also been up there and secured a 6th in the 1999 planet championships in Spain.

Darren Kirkland still dominates the men’s category in Britain but the likes Karl Brooks and Danny Evans are bit by bit closing in on the 34 calendar year aged. How prolonged will he retain his location at the prime of British racing? – only time will convey to.

On the formal aspect of points, Britain’s Ray Berriman, who was instrumental in the really initially entire world championships in Britain again in 1979, is Chief Judge at the 2001 world championships in Las Vegas this year.

It really is been extremely hard to point out all individuals who have played a aspect in Britain’s heritage of drinking water ski racing here. There are so quite a few names unmentioned. But this short article has hopefully given you a substantial stage watch of h2o ski racing and it truly is earlier.

All in all, Britain proceeds to play a main purpose in the entire world ski racing. It will certainly go on to do so over the coming a long time.

Prepared 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.