Barefoot Fans from around the country and the world are still talking about the incredible competition and excitement at the Footin.com 2018 Barefoot Nationals presented by Visit Central Florida at Lake Grew-Action Water Sports in Polk City, Florida.
Best of all, the three-day event all unfolded LIVE, on drones and multiple cameras in HD! Yes, ESPN has nothing on us… the National Tournament was streamed live online for all the world to see, thanks to title sponsor Brent Payne and Footin.com.
“In a time when ESPN is airing video game competitions, I wanted to do it better,” says Brent who is a barefooter and had a poster of Ron Scarpa on his wall growing up. Brent also supplied one of the Barefoot Sanger Boats for the National Tournament.
All eyes were on the water as 65 Competitors from 11 to 90 years old brought their “A Game” to Central Florida. More than a dozen world and national records were set at the Nationals in front of thousands of fans watching in person and online.
Open Pro Mens– This was a record-breaking battle for the ages and 15-year-old Jackson Gerard’s statement to the #barefootnation that he is here to stay. Perennial U.S. Champion Keith St. Onge was on his way to his 19th straight U.S. Overall Title until Jackson hit the water. Jackson easily won tricks by more than 2,000 points, setting pending world records of more than 14,000 points in BOTH Rounds. KSO won jump, besting Jackson by more than a meter.
Then it all came down to slalom… Jackson put up a pending Junior Boys World Record of 19.3 and KSO pulled out an amazing 20.9 to win the Overall Title for the 19th time by just four overall points!
Open Womens –So many strong, talented women walked to the dock in the Open Womens Division it was hard to pick a favorite. In fact, they all seemed to be on the same team, cheering each other on. Comeback Kid and Former World Champion Rachel George Normand won Jump with a beautiful feet-to-feet 11.7 meter jump and Lexi McCauley put up a solid 15 to capture Slalom. But one of the best events of nationals was the Open Womens Tricks event when five of the six women set personal best scores!
“You could feel the electricity coming off the dock as the women were encouraging each other and it just gave me goose bumps,” says Boat Judge Joe Knapp. “That’s what this sport is all about.”
Lexi McCauley won tricks with an incredible pending Junior Girls World Record and pending U.S. Women’s record of 7800 points. Alex Youngblood grabbed second with a PB of 3100 points, Rachel Normand captured third with 2470 points, her best score since her comeback this year, Lauren Ehlers nailed a front-to-back surface turn to score a PB of 2410, Ryleigh Stenson scored a PB of 2150 and 61-year old Carol Jackson set a PB of 1710. Wow… the women know how to make it exciting!
Lexi won the Open Womens Overall Title but called ALL of the women up to share the podium with her. It was the perfect way for Lexi to honor our sport and our women athletes.
Open Mens – The winning was all around in Open Mens. Zenon Bilas won Slalom, Jerry Kanawyer won Tricks, Chris McWatters won Jump and Dan Baumgartner won the Overall Title. All of those men will be competing at the World Championships in a few weeks
International Men & Women – Great Britain’s David Small captured the tricks title with a pending world record of 13,800 points. He also won slalom, jump and the overall followed closely by Team New Zealand’s Ben Groen.
Australia’s Ash Stebbeings wowed the crowd with a pending world record of 18.6 in slalom and a 20.2 meter jump. She also won tricks and the overall for the International Women. And she spent most of the day in the boat judging other events!
Boys & Girls – We have a strong group of young people making their way up in our sport. Michael Sousa and Ellis Osborn battled it out in Boys A with Michael capturing Slalom, Tricks, Jump and Overall.
In Boys B, Brett “Slalom” Swanbom taking Slalom, Tricks, Jump and the Overall.
In Girls A, Sammi Eaton won tricks with Ryleigh Stenson winning Slalom, Jump and the Overall.
Men & Women – The Eastern Region’s Atomic Footers and The South Central Region’s Austin Barefoot Ski Club made a strong showing in the Mens and Womens Divisions.
In Mens A, Rick Stenson won Jump, Logan Walter won Slalom and Mark McCauley won Tricks and the Overall.
In Mens B, Chad Sullivan won tricks, Eric Coryer came back to Nationals after a decade off to win Slalom, Jump and the Overall.
In Mens C, Adam Page won Tricks, Slalom and Overall followed closely by VonL Adrian Adams and Atomic Footer Derek Krehling.
In Womens B, Tina McCauley won Tricks, Slalom and the Overall over newcomers Mindy Acree and Ali Gates. And with Tina, Lexi and Mark winning overall titles it was a McCauley sweep.
60+ Divisions – Proving that you are never too old to love barefooting, 90-year-old Jim Boyette participated in his 41st Barefoot Nationals!
“Just happy to be here again and see everyone,” says Jim who was honored at the awards banquet with Joe Knapp as the only two people to participate in every single barefoot nationals.
Don Simon won Tricks, Slalom and the Overall in the Super Vet (75+) Division. Mike Brisco won Slalom, Tricks and Overall in the Veteran (70-75) Division and Sharon Carlson won Tricks and the Overall in Veteran Womens (70-75) Division despite dislocating her shoulder in a hard back fall in Tricks.
There was a close contest in the Masters Men (60-65) Division with Kevin Keith winning Tricks, Jimmy Taurus winning Jump and Joe Knapp winning Slalom and the Overall.
For all the scores go here.
Honoring Ed Finley – One of the driving forces behind the first Barefoot Nationals in 1978 was Ed Finley. And he never stopped giving back to the sport he loved. Ed was supposed to be Chief Homologator at the 2018 U.S. Barefoot Nationals until we received a phone call Wednesday he had passed away. A moment of silence was held for Ed before Thursday’s competition and at the Saturday Awards Banquet.
One of Ed’s Mentees and Open Pro Barefooter, Ben Groen stepped into the Chief Position and did an outstanding job with the help of Silverado Cowboy and Open Mens Competitor Doug Jordan.
Massive thanks to Brent Payne and Footin.com, Hank Longo, Polk County Sports Marketing and Visit Central Florida, Jorge and Juan Carlos Presas and the Argentinian Barefoot Club, The World Barefoot Center, Action Water Sports, Just Add Water Media, The American Barefoot Club Board of Directors, and the most amazing Tournament Director Lauren St. Onge!
Plus our incredible officials: Chief Judge Dale Stevens who never lost his cool and kept the tournament running through rain, wind and heat, Chief Scorer Tina McCauley who never threw anyone out of the tower, Chief Homologator Ben Groen who seemed to be doing everything on the water and off, Chief Safety Chris McWatters, Chief Video Robbie Groen and Chief Driver Jim Forster.
Special thanks to the McCauley Family for everything from selling t-shirts, changing garbage bags to printer ink and running all over Polk County. Alfred Kiefer for the all-important 80 gallon gas tank, Pam Abraham for the Yellow Banana George pick-up jet ski, Ron Scarpa and Peter Fleck for providing live stream commentary, Ryan Gilman for being the best registrar ever, Don Simon for being in charge of cold water and other delicious beverages and Arlene Stoppe for organizing all of the awards and bringing in a civilian to help!
The next tournament is the 2018 World Barefoot Waterski Championships which will be held August 11-18 in Napanee, Canada.
Thanks to Brent Payne and Footin.com, you will also be able to watch the livestream at AkrosTV.com. Please go online to cheer on Team USA as they try to take home the title!