sport

Barefoot nationals kick off

By Jared Loughnan

Perfect conditions have greeted competitors for the Australian Barefoot Waterski National Championships this week.

The championships started on Tuesday and will finish this Sunday at the Mulwala Water Ski Club’s Max Kirwan Park. Hosted by the Victorian Barefoot Water Ski Club in conjunction with the Mulwala Water Ski Club, the 57th Championships will see around 120 competitors travel from all over Australia to compete.

Local barefooting champion and Mulwala Water Ski Club Ski Co-ordinator Peter O’Neill said there will be competitors as young as six years old and as old as 71 taking part in the event. 

“The six day event will have two lakes full of the best high speed action on the water as the best in the country compete to be named national champion and show their skills to be considered for selection to represent Australia,” Mr O’Neill said.  

“Competition will start at 8am every day except for a late start on Wednesday and Friday that finish late.

“The big competition will see Australian champion Keenan Derry as the hot favourite to take out the Open Men’s and World Champion Ash-Kate Stebbings will be looking to hold her number one ranking in the Open Women’s event,” Pete said.

A unique Friday night jump “Twilight Spectacle” from some of the best barefoot water-skiers will also be a spectacle not to be missed on March 15. The event is licensed and food stalls will be available as well as kids attractions such as a jumping castle, bungee run and entertainment plus there will be display sites.

“Being Friday night this allows more spectators to catch some of the most talented barefooters perform at their best.

“The Twilight Spectacular will have plenty of fun for the whole family on the land and hot jump action on the water. 

“Starting at 4pm and finishing at 9pm the best of the best will be looking for that number one seed spot. 

“This is a must for waterskiing enthusiasts to attend and the first time ever such an event has been held during the nationals.” 

Mr O’Neill said there are several locals competing at the national championships. 

“Our community has had a proud history of skiers competing at national events.

“This year will be no different, the Peebles family from Bundalong will have four kids skiing including Zeke and Ayden who are both competing in the Under Ten competition and Macey and Zali who are both in Sub Girls, with Zali looking to retain her Sub-Junior Australian Title from last year. 

“The Hogan family will also have representatives with Emily in Sub-Junior Girls and Harry in Sub-Junior Boys.  “Macy Hicks will also be competing in the Junior Girls. 

“The Victorian team has a very strong presence in the juniors this year.”

The 2019 Australia Barefoot Waterski National Championships will involve junior, open and senior divisions. Competitors will have progressed through the sport via local events and State Championships. 

The 2019 National Championships are a pathway for selection to compete in the World Championships to be held in Sydney in 2020.