Barefoot waterskiing is more than just waterskiing without skis. For enthusiasts, it also involves taking jumps and performing a series of spectacular tricks!
That certainly was the case for local retired waterskiing champion, John McKenzie. John is renowned for his feats as an athlete in the sport of waterskiing.
“I started waterskiing when I was 30 years old. One day I went out to Bundaburrah Creek and saw people doing it. One of my friends had a boat and he introduced me to the sport. I got the bug and just went flat out from there,” said John.
Within no time John started barefooting and he took off like a house on fire. He started going away to competitions every second weekend showcasing his impressive manoeuvres and techniques.
Apart from winning many major titles, John claimed the 1984 Zone 6 Barefoot Waterskiing Championship title and that with two broken fingers on his left hand. He was also selected as part of the NSW barefoot team against Queensland.
After obtaining the highest level he could with barefoot waterskiing he moved on to ski racing. His transition into ski racing was met with immediate success.
He participated in numerous events such as the gruelling annual Bridge to Bridge Classic ski race on the Hawkesbury River (the longest and most prestigious of its kind in the world), where he and his team were placed fourth in the 24th Classic.
John stepped off his water skis and into sports history when he finally retired from skiing undefeated in the late 1980’s.
He shared his wealth of knowledge and experiences in the sport through coaching and as a judge and an examiner for Zone 6 events.
In recent years, crowds have been treated with spectacular views of barefoot skills during the Forbes Barefoot Water Ski Tournament, one of the biggest barefoot competitions in Australia.
John was at the forefront to introduce the sport to Forbes. “I approached the Forbes Club during the early 1980s to hold a championship and with them onside we held two state titles and four championships at Bundaburrah Creek. The event proved to be very good for Forbes’ economy, with people coming from all over and utilising the town’s facilities,” said John.
Forbes also welcomed a prestigious guest, the iconic Barefoot Waterskiing World and National Champion Brett Wing, who noted that it was one of the best venues he’d ever skied on and he’d skied all over the world. These initial tournaments were halted in later years.
By Gizell van Wyk