Marc Donahue loves barefoot waterskiing and rough water.
Donahue has quietly become one of the world’s best Barefoot Figure 8 competitors since he first learned to barefoot waterski about a decade ago. The 52-year-old Indiana native won the USA Waterski Foundation’s 2016 Banana George Memorial Figure 8 Tournament during the Ski with the Legends Weekend.
“I started to barefoot in my 40’s when a guy from work took me out on the water. I went to one tournament and then I started going to any one I could find,” says Donahue who has moved to Ocklawaha, Florida so he can barefoot all year.
Figure 8 Barefoot tournaments are run on a bracket system. Two barefooters go head-to-head behind a boat turning in a Figure 8 pattern around a lake. The barefooters must negotiate turns, cross boat rollers and outlast wind chop without crossing the center of the wake.
In addition to the Figure 8 tournaments, Donahue participates in the American Barefoot Club’s traditional three event tournaments and is sponsored by the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida.
Donahue is the 2016 Footstock Senior Division Champion. Footstock is considered the National Figure 8 Championships and takes place in Wisconsin. Hundreds of barefooters from around the world participate in the multi-day tournament.
Donahue was also the winner of the most grueling championships in the history of Footstock in 2010. He outlasted four-time Footstock champion Peter Fleck of Florida in a 5-1/2 lap contest to become the surprise 2010 champion.
As rough as it sounds, Donahue says he has never been seriously injured and never blistered his feet. He does have some simple keys for Figure 8 success which could easily be translated to life.
“I focus on lots of practice and never let go even when I think I am done,” says Donahue. “A lot of times when you are on your third or fourth lap, people give up. I have never done that. I never let go… until I fall.”
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