By John Gillette
Perennial Champion Rachel George Normand is the first woman to take top honors in the 43-year history of the famous Lake Norman New Year’s Day Barefoot Tournament.
Normand’s score of 576 points was more than double second place and is the fifth-highest score ever! Normand lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina and is the current Senior Women’s World Champion, 2017 Water Ski Hall of Fame Inductee and Five-Time World Elite Champion. Yes… she is and has always been a BIG Deal!
“After competing the past two years against some of the best men in the sport, I am honored to be the first female to win this unique and grueling event,” says Normand with her signature humbleness.
“With the smooth pull of the Cobalt towboat, I was able to incorporate a new start into my run boosting my points. With the male competitors hot on my feet, I plan to train hard in hopes of improving my score next year,” says Normand.
Second to Normand in the Open Division was Fred Steinbaum (218 points) of Hopatcong, New Jersey, and Marty Levine (160 points) of Short Hills, New Jersey, third.
The Men’s Division was won by the “Beast of the East” John Garrity (186 points) of Byram Township, New Jersey, second John McClelland (168 points) of Mooresville, North Carolina, and third Lance Smith (152 points) of Indianapolis, Indiana.
McClelland also used his participation to raise money for
The Women’s Division was won by 11-year-old Claire Flowers (51 points) of Tega Cay, South Carolina, no doubt heir apparent to Rachel Normand!
Beautiful weather brought out about 200 spectators including Steve Steffens from Huntersville.
“Boats, water, and skiing have always been a way of life for me since I was five years old. I learned about this barefoot tournament four years ago after joining Lake Norman Marina’s boat club, and I haven’t missed one since!” says Steffens.
The tournament is organized by the Carolina Show Ski Team and sponsored by Lake Norman Marina, located at 6965 North Carolina 150 East, Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina 28673. Lake Norman Marina provides boat sales, service, storage, rentals and a boat club.
Top scores in the event’s history:
2019 Keith St.Onge 1102 points
2011 Jeff Blair, 816 points
1995 Ron Scarpa, 693 points*
1995 John Gillette, 615 points*
*Previous rules did not allow repeating tricks