An all-star cast of barefooters took to the placid waters of the PGA Canal in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on Saturday to kick off the 2019 Barefoot Season.
Southern Regional Director Jim Forster has been organizing the PGA Season Opener Tournament for more than a decade on the best barefoot water in America… yes.. seriously the BEST… and this year he played host to new faces, new personal bests, and a new national record.
“I just want people to come here, have a good time and ski their best. That’s why I do the tournament every year. It’s not about me, it’s about barefoot water skiing. We had so many new people at the PGA this year… a completely different group from last year!” says Jim who scored 13.6 in slalom and also ran an incredible tournament.
Footers traveled to Chomper the Gator’s turf in the PGA Canal from the all over the American Barefoot Club: Midwest Region, Eastern Region, South-Central Region and of course the Southern Region… we were only missing representation from the Wild, Wild, Western Region. We also had footers and officials from Belgium, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
The “C” Amigos, three new junior boy barefooters joined the “Chomper Bait Club.” Cole Stellmacher from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Cameron Patton from St. Louis, Missouri and Carter Boerman from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. All three boys skied awesome! Cole scored 870 in tricks and 3.9 in slalom. Cameron scored 380 in tricks and 2.28 in Slalom. Carter scored 710 in tricks and 2.33 in slalom. We love the “C”Amigos and we can’t wait to see what they do next!
2018 USA Junior Barefoot Team Member Brett Swanbom scored all four of his surface turns in a tournament for the first time, scoring 2710 in tricks and 12.2 in Slalom.
Camo-wearing Barefoot World Champion and World Record holder, Jackson Gerard tore it up with a 9430 in tricks and 16.5 in slalom. We love this guy… Jackson is so incredible, David Small didn’t even show up! (It had nothing to do with pulling skiers at the WBC)
Perennial Record Breaker Carol Jackson did not disappoint and broke her own national record for wake slalom with 6.6 points. See her record breaking run here. She also kicked butt in tricks with a 1350.
The Atomic Footers were well-represented with Sam Dubs and his bionic hip scoring 220 in tricks and 3.23 in slalom. Derek Krehling was radioactive with a personal best of 240 in tricks and 2.5 in slalom, Steve Shannon scored 90 points in tricks and 3.2 in slalom. And Atomic Hauler Andy was one fierce dock starter!
The rest of the East Coast Mafia? Fahgettaboudit. Kevin Keith scored 1250 in tricks and 10.2 in slalom, Don “Don’t stop me now” Stoppe scored 1140 in tricks and 8 in slalom. World Barefoot Council and Eastern Regional Director Rich Kaufman scored 1650 in tricks and 8 in slalom. Glenn Kinnear scored 430 in tricks and 5.4 in slalom.
Thor Thordarson, the Norse God of Thunder and Mild-Mannered Midwesterner also made an appearance at the PGA, scoring 9.3 in slalom and 1200 in tricks.
“Great tournament!” says Thor, “First Tournament for me in a long time. Good to be back.”
Southern Region Veteran Barefooters showed up to show the young ones how it’s done… Zenon Bilas did three rounds of slalom with a high score of 9.6, Al Hager scored 340 in tricks and 3.5 in slalom and Matt Ellis scored 850 in tricks and 5.23 in slalom.
The International Crew was also impressive. Celine Vrancx of Belgium scored 1390 in tricks, Duane Godfrey of Canada scored 2410 in tricks, Ash Stebbeings of Australia scored sheets on shore and kick butt on the water. Yes… she is still the greatest… evah.
Ash’s fellow countryman Mark “Deaks” Deakins skied his first tournament ever! The UFC Fighter turned WBC Gas Boy scored 500 in tricks and 3.43 in Slalom.
Special Thanks to Chief Judge Dale Stevens, Chief Driver Ben Groen, Judges Rich Kaufman, Duane Godfrey, Don Stoppe and Judge Trainee Deanna Dean, Safety Char Portman and Asst. Safety Rich Kaufman, Scorers Ash Stebbeings and Char Portman and Southern Regional Director Mike Caruso for helping at a tournament for the very first time! He didn’t even ski, just volunteered! And of course, Southern Region Stalwart Brad Henderson for being the “PGA Guy Friday!”
Massive thanks to Assistant Chief Driver Bruce Walter and his Bumblebee Sanger… the best boat in America… yes seriously. Without Bruce and the Bumblebee there would be no tournament. No boat, no hope.
Video will go up when I get better internet!
The next tournament is the Barefoot Blowout in Conroe, Texas June 7-9. Contact Mark Shank for details. Go support your local barefooters!