Posts Tagged ‘getting started with barefoot water skiing’

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!