Jim Boyette stands alone in the world of barefoot waterskiing. He is the oldest and the most reliable barefooter we know. And today, our Jim Boyette turns 90 years old
If you’re a barefooter, take a run for Jim today. If you’re not, take a moment to remember the quiet giant of our little sport.
Jim has participated in every single US Barefoot Waterski National Championships, 40 consecutive years of traveling to barefoot tournaments and walking to the dock… including this past summer’s 40th Anniversary U.S. Barefoot Nationals at Lake Grew in Polk City, Florida.
Jim was 45 when he learned to barefoot back in 1973. He first tried kicking off a ski, but he found himself face planting again and again. Jim didn’t give up– he switched to riding on a rubber mat and stood up on his feet.
“It took about a thousand falls, but I finally got it,” says Jim.
Two years later, he started competing and hasn’t stopped. Jim has won more than 50 National Championship titles, including more than 20 overall titles. He was the very first National Overall Champion in Men’s 3,4,5,6, 9 and 10. Jim is an inspiration for everyone he meets. He has a great sense of humor and is always there cheering and celebrating for other barefooters at tournaments.
“I have learned many things from Jim by his example as a retired Naval Officer and a family man. Jim is gracious, humble, funny, full of life experiences to tell, but never critical of others,” says Mike Powell, Jim’s friend and boat driver.
And the next time you complain about your feet hurting, or your neck aching, or your sore abs– consider this: Jim has Charcot-Marie Tooth Neuropathy which causes his muscles to atrophy.
“It affects my barefooting,” Jim says. “Sometimes my feet feel like two pieces of wood–I don’t have a good feeling in my feet–but it hasn’t stopped me yet. That’s a good thing!” Jim also has days when arthritis takes over and makes barefooting even more difficult.
Up until a few years ago, Jim was still doing a long-line tumble up start at tournaments. A start that could knock the snot out of kids a fraction of Jim’s age.
“It is always great seeing young kids getting involved in the sport, but I have skied with Jim in the past and the old guy is just amazing!” says 2016 World Barefoot Champion David Small. “None of us can complain about aches and pains after a set from now on.”
About a decade ago, the Southern Region honored Jim by naming its annual regional tournament “The Jim Boyette Southern Regional Championships.” A fitting tribute to a man with the heart of hero and who is a perennial supporter of all things barefooting.
When I plan a tournament, Jim is the first person to sign up and try to pay… but we don’t let him do that anymore. Jim Boyette is the ABC’s Southern Region and he will always be my hero!
Happy Birthday Jim! Thanks for being barefooting’s biggest fan!