Posts Tagged ‘beginners’

Clement Maillard: How I Started Barefooting

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013



Boating is a tradition in my family that goes back to my grandparents, and as far as I can remember my family always had a boat.
Once, when I was a young boy (almost 6) in a family meeting, we were looking at old pictures and I saw that my dad and uncle use to waterski behind a small boat in the 70’s. I asked my dad why he never talked about waterskiing before and he told me that he wasn’t in shape to do those stunts anymore. But I learned he had a boat stored in a roof up to the country and none knew about it before.
Next spring, I asked him to put back that boat on the water. After many times of asking, he finally said okay. As soon as we could, we picked up that boat and went for a ride. After a couple of rides, it was finally warm enough–and my dad asked us (me and my brothers) if we wanted to waterski, I had never seen it before, so first my dad showed us the way to do it.
My brothers tried first and succeeded after couple attempts. I wasn’t big enough to wear the wetsuits and the skis, so I didn’t even try to do it. My father promised me that he would teach me in a waterski club that a friend of him own so I could try it in proper conditions.
Two weeks later we were there. I was really impatient to try waterskiing. As soon as I got ready, we jumped into the boat and go!
But what I didn’t know is that this guy who was suppose to pull me was one of the best barefooters in France, a senior team member and a senior European champion, Patrick Whyte. I was 6 years old and I never heard about barefooting before, so I thought that I was just going for a simple waterski attempt but it wasn’t the case. At the first try they put me on the boom with two skis linked together, and as we could expect I lost those once the boat go. Lazy to pick up the skis and fit it back, Patrick asked me if I wanted to try without, it seemed me incredible but he convinced me and told me that’s was exactly and that nothing changes! So I answered OK!
He run the Boat and I was ready to live the Best experience of my life that is to barefoot waterski, but I didn’t know that it is totally sick to ski right on your feet. On the first try I succeeded and ski on 100meters/300 feet. I did it again a couple times. After that day, I wanted to come back to try as soon as possible, and the next week we came back did it again and again. Fifteen years later, I’m still going and barefooting is still the thing that I love more in my life!
I became more and more involved in the sport, skiing with a small team of young skiers in this waterski club between the ages of 6 and 10, so we trained all together every weekend, pushing each other further in barefooting. I started competing one year later in 1999. Then I never stopped competing!




Wade Masters: How I Started Barefooting

Monday, February 25th, 2013


Growing up in East Tennessee was a blessing to say the least. The Tennessee Valley Authority flooded much of the land, providing beautiful waterways to enjoy. As a child I grew up in an area called Greenback– a place that is still very special to me. One place in particular is a little piece of heavenly water known to locals as Bat Creek. It started out as a creek– and after TVA dammed up the river it became a seven mile stretch of some of the best water for skiing I have ever seen.

On the occasion, I was home not doing much–I was kinda bored and daydreaming about skiing when there was a knock on the door. When I went to see what sales person was there, because only the salespeople came to the front door and knocked, everybody else just came around to the back door and let themselves in. It was Todd Tiller ,a great friend of mine still today. Todd was standing there with all the excitement of Christmas– an enthusiasm he carries with him everyday. behind him was his truck with his dad’s Ski Nautique. He didn’t even have to ask, I said, “Let me get my stuff, five minutes tops.”

The ride to the ramp was an exciting one, he was telling me all about this new water sport that was just developing called wakeboarding, and that he had a board and we were all going to try it. Being a slalom skier. I was intrigued and confused at the same time. He explained that the start was difficult, but once you were up it was an awesome ride.

Arriving at the lake, we prepared to wakeboard a bit, I found it very easy to start on the wakeboard and the ride was easy and peaceful, but all the while I had my eye out for the perfect stretch of glass to rip with my Connelly double boot ski. Yea, wakeboarding was new and fun, but it didn’t seem to satisfy my need for speed.

We did have the perfect stretch of glass water: you could see your reflection in and I did proceed to throw it high as the pine trees that lined the lake and yes, it was a good day.

The sun was going down, it was almost time to go back to the real world where people push and shove, and try to get ahead. We weren’t done. Todd said, “This water is so slick, I think I want to foot.” Out from under the bow he proceeds to pull the biggest mess of equipment I had ever seen! There were parts and pins, and suits and shorts and handles. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but it looked complicated.

After the boat had been reconfigured and everyone in the boat moved from their most comfortable position to the best, absolute balanced position for the boom position. We took off, and out of the spray and speed, there came Todd barefooting. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and when he was finished, I found my self standing up in the boat. As a matter of fact, I met him at the back of the boat helping him out of the water and saying to him, “Will that suit fit me?”

He laughed and said “ I don’t know.”

After a few minutes of politics and instruction, he agreed to let me try. The suit was loose, wet, and cold. And none of that mattered. On my first and only run that evening, I tumbled up on the boom and went about half the length of Bat Creek. I caught a toe about mid-way but didn’t let go. I tumbled back around and stood up again.

Not at all knowing how much that one day in Greenback Tennessee would Impact my life so positively. I was hooked in a few minutes and have spent a great portion of my life doing what I truly love…..Barefoot Water Skiing.

Wade Masters

Clinic in California at Diablo Shores with David Small…

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I left the cold weather behind when I left the Twin Cities and landed in to sunny San Francisco where Dave Naddy picked me up.  Jerry Kanawyer sorted the clinic out but as it was his 50th birthday a few days before my arrival he was throwing a party at his house and had to stay behind and organize the band, tents and the other logistical nightmares that go with hosting a party 😉 After leaving the low cloud of the city and driving through the hills we got to Diablo Shores and was greeted with glass clam blue water and not a cloud to be seen…….. perfection!!!!

jerrys bday hat

Shot of the lake on my arrival :)

Jerry and Adin Danneker were skiing all week and are both training for the up coming World Championships in Waco Texas this Summer so it was a pleasure to work with them and get them more competition ready.  Both Jerrys and Adins slalom came on leaps and bounds as well as Adins turns getting a lot better and Jerry figuring out his line step position as well as dabbling with his surface turns.

Jerry and Adin suiting up

Adin showing his jumping skills

Mark Hobson was down most of the week with his 13 year old niece, Mackenzie, who only started bare footing on my last visit last Summer.  She is now getting up long line on her feet, doing sit down and stand ups, starting in to tumble turns, working on her ones foots and starting in to backwards!!! Very proud of you Mac!! Last year Mark couldn’t get up longline backwards or do one foots forwards.  He is now rocking long line back wakes out, back one foots behind the boat, can hall ass on front wakes and can ride toe holds.  If anyone wants to see a guy enthusiastic about bare footing then this is your man…. pleasure to be around and to ski with and I’m looking forward to coming back after Nationals and skiing with him again and possibly seeing his new baby girl if she has arrived by the start of Aug 😉

Mark Hobson showing us how to wake slalom

13 year old Mac ..... its the only pic i had Mac, sorry.... She was getting up long line on her feet but i didn't get a shot

Andy Conway, who is gentile giant was looking good on his backward one foot wake crossings as well as getting a lot more consistent with his front slalom.

At the start dock at the Diablo Shores open tournament

Jenna Gernstein who is 15 years old and trying to qualify to ski in the Junior World Championships also came for a few days.  She lives in San Diago and skies with Art. She has been skiing since she was 3 years old and is very stable out on the water…. and if she practiced her reverses more than once a year would be a very well rounded skier 😉 lol.

Jenna showing off for the camera

After the week clinic Jerry had a tournament at his lake where he had a good turn out as well as putting on a driver and safety clinic after the skiing was done.  There were some good scores posted.  It wasn’t a RC tournament but I skied 13250 in tricks and 19.2 in slalom which I was happy with.

As much as i tried to skydiving while i was there we were starting early in the morning and then by the time we were done the winds always picked up (water was still glass) and the place thats close to Jerrys is notorious for accidents…… I have Swampy in my head telling me he will kill me if i injure myself jumping out of a perfectly good plane so i decided to wait until i return in a month or so :0

charlie not giving up his stick

Written by : David Small

AKA  Small’z

The World Barefoot Center is the place to go to improve your Barefoot Water-Skiing.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The World Barefoot Center is continuing to prove itself as the best Barefoot Waterskiing ski school for both beginners and elite.  We have been producing some amazing athletes in the 3 event scene and have had a lot of new students coming to the ski school to learn to barefoot for the very first time or to try some Barefoot freestyle .  Our success in coaching comes down to a few factors…..

1, We have the best Barefoot water-skiers in the World teaching at the school.. David Small, Keith St Onge,  AJ Porreca and Ben Groen who are ranked 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th in the World.

2, We have the best weather and water conditions at the ski school. With 3 houses on 3 of the chain of lakes we have a lot of options of where to ski and can easily travel through the canals to find long stretches of glass calm water if needed.  With the school based in central Florida, the school has year-round, great weather.

3, The best equipment is used at the ski school.  We use Sanger boats which are powered by Evinrude E-tec motors.  There are 3 jumps permanently in the water so jumping is readily available on a variety of wind directions. We have all of the boats rigged up with Barefoot International towers, fly highs, training booms, all sizes of shoe skis, barefoot swings, US Gear handles, and ropes.  We utilize Head Zone helmets, which allow the coaches to talk to the skier while skiing.  The use of Head Zone helmets dramatically reduces learning times.

With all of these things combined, the World Barefoot Center is the place to go to learn how to walk on water.

Roomy Sanger

Womens week in the Mag.

Getting the BI Fly High rigged up

All 3 boats ready to go

7 year old sitting in the swing learning how to barefoot

7 Year old usinfootsg the shoe skis and Head Zone to learn how to do some one

By : David Small

A New Barefooter in the Family

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

My son and I got up at five a.m. to head out to Cedar Lake earlier this week.   It would be David’s first time on the boom, and I was looking forward to sharing the sport with my oldest kid for the first time. I was hoping he would be hooked– as I had visions of us barefooting together the rest of the summer.

After the first try, he admitted that the sport was just a tad harder than he expected it to be.  He gripped the boom again for another try.

“Um, son, both feet in the water.  Save the one foots for a little later…”

Ok, the third time just might be the charm:


The boat exploded in applause– a new barefooter just joined the family!  There was a broad smile on David’s face when he climbed into the boat.   An even bigger smile was plastered on my face as I went to hug my son.  “So, what do you think?” I asked.

“It’s cool, Mom!  But I still like wakeboarding better.”


— by Karen Putz


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

So you are at your lake or river and you see these water-skiers zipping by– but they have no skis  – they are skiing on their bare feet.  Now that has your interest as something you just have to try, but how do you get started, what does it involve, just where are you ever going to get this information?

If you are like many of us, you hook up with these skiers and they say they will teach you how to barefoot ski.  Sounds good and easy, but this is the wrong way to get started. Do your homework and start checking the Internet for information about barefoot water skiing.  Websites such as Barefoot.Org or contain a wealth of information regarding this sport.

 The first thing you should do is make reservations and go to a ski school that specializes in teaching barefoot water skiing such as the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL.  If you are going to learn this new sport you should learn it properly and safely.  By doing this you will save yourself from the brutal falls that one can take when they do not learn by using the proper methods and equipment. 

The WBC owned and operated by the current World Champions Keith St. Onge and David Small, uses the newest methods and equipment, such as shoe skis, KSO Wetsuits and Barefoot International booms and Towers, to get you started and take you to the next level.  You will learn the proper techniques in a proper progression and eliminate the painful falls that usually occur when “friends” teach you.

You will also need to purchase specialized equipment such as a padded bare foot suit, padded shorts and perhaps a neopream heater shirt to be worn under your barefoot suit in cooler weather.  Again, do your research to find the best and latest equipment.  It is imperative that your barefoot suit fit well, have adequate padding and is constructed well.  All suits are not created equal, so again, have a professional help you with this purchase to make sure you are getting the best suit available. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek help.  The World Barefoot Center has a complete Pro shop on site as well as on line and can help you with this purchase. 

Don’t be afraid to seek out help and answers to your questions and concerns.  The World Barefoot Center is here to answers any questions you may have at (863) 877-0039.  The bare footing community loves to help others in the sport no matter what level your skiing is at so feel free to give other footers a call!!

By: Judy Myers

HeadZone Helmets, Communication in the Water Ski World.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

BEND YOUR KNEES!  ARMS STRAIGHT!  EYES UP!  That’s me, Keith St.Onge yelling at my students from the boat four years ago.   I had to yell at the top of my lungs to get my students attention and quite frankly I was fed up with it.  Most times the skier could not hear me and if they did, I was more of a distraction then an instructor.  It felt like I was scolding these barefoot skiers and possibly scaring them at the same time.  I then developed my own sign language to communicate but half the time they would only catch a portion of my symbol.  Simply too many distractions!  “How can my dream job be such a nightmare?” I would say.
Jackie St.Onge

I met Mark Ellis, president of HeadZone four years ago and he has changed my life for the better…forever!  I used the HeadZone communication device when they first hit the market and instantly fell in love with the product.  I can now use this system to easily communicate with my clients while they are performing the maneuvers they want to learn.  I simply talk into the microphone, which sends my instruction through the helmet.  The student does not have to look at me or try to figure out my sign language.  I like to explain this situation as a “Reaction.”  The student reacts to my instruction instead of having to think about what do to.  Many of my clients tell me “It seems like you’re in my head.” Haha, I laugh and say, “That’s because I am!”

With HeadZone I can cut the learning curve in half and accomplish in one run, what use to take three to eight runs.  Not only that but my students do not take unnecessary falls.  I’m able to critique their position before something bad happens and beginners learn instantly because of my ability to response quickly.

You might be asking what type of water resistance this helmet may have?  HeadZone is fully waterproof and can withstand all impacts on the water.  Many times it helps break a fall with less impact being diverted from the head.  The helmet molds tightly to the skull and does not catch or bucket the water.

We are proud to be affiliated with HeadZone and take pride in using this product at the World Barfoot Center!  Come down to sunny, Winter Haven, Florida and allow us to guide you from all levels of barefoot skiing.  The future has arrived and we are embracing it…you should too!

By: Keith St.Onge, 2x World Champion, 11x National Champion

GEAR REVIEW – HEADZONE HELMET from WorldBarefootCenter on Vimeo.