Barefoot waterskiing started out as a stunt. It did not become a sport till much later. The spectacular was to stand on your bare feet on the water, and the trick was to get there. It blossomed as a spectacular act in waterski shows all over the world. It took on the character of a sport with the “proficiencies” started in Australia – ways of getting to the feet. Tests were held by authorised officials and certificates and badges issued.
Competition made it appearance in the early 60s, and “start methods” was one of the events. Others aped classic – jump, slalom and tricks. Competitions were first held in Australia. In Europe the first competition was held in 1968, and in America much later. The Australian Technical Rules were adapted to Europe and evolved in 1977 into the World Technical Rules.
The first World Championships were held in Canberra, Australia in 1978. The Worlds have been held every 2 years ever since, in Great Britain, Germany, America and Mexico as well as Australia World Junior Championships started in 1995, the first in the US. In Europe, Region Championships have been held annually since 1976. Region Junior Championships started in 1992. The first Region AA Barefoot Championships were held 2006 in Australia.
The sport has matured dramatically over the past 40 years. Tricks advanced dramatically, paralleling classic in a way only visionaries predicated in the 70s.
Jump has moved through progressive phases, from survival – where the trick was to land and ski away – through “bumming” where the skier deliberately hit the ramp with his rump and got thrown into the air- to the present “inverted” technique which has brought performance from 20 to 28 metres.
Slalom which started out with a single line of buoys at decreasing intervals soon settled down to what we have today – crossing the wake from side to side as many times as possible in twice 15 seconds, forward and backwards.
We cannot say the end is in sight. New developments and new techniques will certainly advance the sport in various areas. Today we have a mature sport in which barefooters are performing multiple turns- also on one foot; toeholds, steps and somersaults – also over the wake.
Slalom performance has reached over 20 crossings in twice 15 seconds, in a mix of forwards and backwards, and the jump record stands at over 28 metres with unofficial distances approaching the magic 30 metres – 100 feet.