Posts Tagged ‘WBC’

Ted Baber: Scandinavian Open

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

In July my friend Bradley Beattie and I from Great Britain went over to Finland to ski with Evert Aarsten Jr. We went over a week early to train before the tournament. In that week we had no luck with the weather, so in the end we had to deal with the rough water and train in it. It was so rough I was struggling to stand on 2 feet. Also, it was freezing cold and the only thing that was keeping me motivated was knowing that there was a boiling hot sauna on the side of the lake waiting for me.

It came to the day of the tournament and we could not have asked for better weather. It was perfect conditions with a boiling hot sun and flat water. A barefooters dream! The Scandinavian Open had a good turn out with 5 different countries attending. There was the Fins, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch and the Brits.

The tournament was under way, Evert Jr and I were disappointed in our first round scores in tricks. He scored 2,400 pts and I scored 3,600 pts. However Evert Jr hit a massive PB in the second round with a score of 5,900 pts. After the trick event we did slalom. Evert Jr came out on top in this event with 14.0 and I score a close second with 13.2. The last event and the most exciting was jumping. Evert Jr and I were the only invert jumpers. We both struggled on the first couple of jumps to stay square off the ramp and I took a big crash on one. I end up landing an 18m jump and Evert Jr took out the overall with a swell 23m jump.

By: Ted Baber

Ben Groen – Featured in the Australian Waterski Magazine

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Ben Groen made the cover of the July/August 2013 Australian Waterski Magazine and he was also featured inside with a 6 page article. This article is a must read! It gives you a little insight into the World Barefoot Center, some of his biggest achievements and what he is aspiring to achieve in the future. (Click on each individual page to read).  To see more magazines Ben has been featured in, go to our website and click on the Pros Page.

Chris Mcwatters: The Beginning

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

​Believe it or not barefooting has always been something I have always wanted to try to accomplish.  Many years ago, my Uncle Mike showed me a beta tape of him barefooting.  That’s right a beta tape.  For those of you that don’t know what a beta tape is, it was the way to watch video tapes prior to VHS.  Oh, and the machine that played those tapes was about the same size as a inboard Sanger.  So there I was, a little influential kid watching a beta tape of my uncle barefooting in a orange life vest and cut-off jean shorts, sitting on the shag carpet.  Oh the memories.  It was at this point that I said to myself, I have to try this out.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance then.  It wasn’t until my Navy days in the mid 90’s while living on the beach, did I ever give it a shot.  I was sitting on the beach on Sail Bay (Pacific Beach, CA), when these guys come up onto the beach with their boat and asked Gloria (my soon to be wife) and me if we would like to go skiing.  Uhhh yeah, please!   Now the bay was calm, and it was my turn.  So I put on a slalom ski and off I go, not very good, but just happy to be on the water.  After a few cuts back and forth, I went down.  While I was in the water, I was thinking back to that damn video of my uncle, you can set off the ski and BAREFOOT.  Well I was hell bent to try, beside I was a military guy, nothing can hurt us right?

Oh boy, was I wrong, but in my ingenious thinking, “I can do this and impress the gal and be real cool….”  NOT.  So, I get up skiing and the boat begins to increase speed– there were problems right from the start.  I had difficulty getting my balance and getting  my foot out of the binding, but I do– barely.  The boat is what I think “screaming down the bay,” I have one foot on the water, now all I have to do is kick this stick off my other foot right.  Right…   What a show.  A complete yard sale.  I wasn’t sure I was ever going to stop hurting.

Fast forward seven years later, I moved to Michigan, graduated from college and like all graduates I bought a Ski Nautique.  I didn’t have a cottage, river, or place to stow it, but dammit I had a boat!  I live up to one on my promises to myself., own a competition ski boat.  So I bought a slalom ski, vest, wet suit and rope.  A true walley, only I did not then and do not now own a TUBE.  I did  have access to a lake: my grandma owned a cottage on a lake not too far from me so I was able to take it there.

One morning, I had gone over to the slalom course on my grandma’s lake and was watching these guys ski.  I had made my introductions to the crew and they told me to get in line and they would pull me through the course.  I told them that I wasn’t any good and could only get up on the ski and that that was a struggle.  They weren’t concerned with that they said, they only were happy to have skiers on the lake.  Well, about the time it was my turn, another boat pulled up and started talking to the crew.  They all knew each other it seemed.  The small talk came around to me and they asked me, “What do you do?”  Not sure what to say, I replied,  “Just ski I guess.”

I continued to say that I was interested in barefooting though.  It  just happened that the guy that had pulled up was the guy to talk to.  Well I was introduced to Gary Zimmerman and he told me to anchor my boat and jump in his boat.  He assembled this pole off the side of his boat (yup didn’t even know what a boom was in 2001).  He gave me a few simple instructions: sit on the kneeboard, hold the boom shoulder-width apart,  bend my knees and put my heels in the water–then let the boat do the rest.

Simple enough.

I do exactly what he says and there I was, BAREFOOTING.  Only one thing that was not explained to me, the letting go part.  Well, we make a pretty good run, and Gary says “let go,” so I do, but I don’t sit on my butt.  No way– I just have boardshorts on, so as I lose speed I fall forward and I don’t tuck and roll, no I hold my head high and I experience the patented “scorpion fall,” but I didn’t care, I was barefooting!

It was at this point I should have punched Gary in the face, because the addiction he caused me was horrible.  Sometimes I wonder if drugs were not cheaper.

​So that is the person that “broke” me into barefooting, Gary Zimmerman.  Now I still ski with him to this day.  I took several years off barefooting a tried airchairing, and slalom skiing, but came back to barefooting.  I would like to thank Gary for giving me first experience barefooting and continuing to barefoot with me at Round Lake in Manitou Beach, Michigan.

– Chris McWatters

Barefooting: What’s Your Reason?

Monday, July 1st, 2013


A while ago, Swampy gave me a question to answer. The question was, “Why do you love barefoot waterskiing?”. It seems like it would be such a simple question to answer, until you actually start thinking about it. At first you just think, “Well, heck, it’s just plain fun”. But I knew that wasn’t the answer Swampy would be looking for… since it really wasn’t an answer. So I had to think WHY do I think it’s fun, WHY do I keep on trying to improve? I felt like I should have been able to answer it right then and there, but I actually had to sit down and think about it. It’s hard to say why you love doing something, because you never really HAVE to explain why you love doing it. You just do it. You just get that gut feeling and passion for it. It’s difficult to explain those kinds of things. Honestly, I felt a bit ashamed that I couldn’t answer it right away.

But eventually, I did think of the answer. And it was a true answer that I now understand and feel strongly about. I didn’t want to just come up with some nonsense answer for Swampy just to get out of the spotlight. I wanted to come up with a real answer from the heart so I could truly know WHY I love barefoot waterskiing. I wanted to find the answer for myself.

So, besides the fact that you ski on your bare feet, my answer for why I love barefoot waterskiing:

It’s an individual sport.

I don’t have to worry about anybody else but me. If I fall and fail, well, that’s my fault. I can’t blame my coaches or parents even though they’ve helped me along the way. I’m the one doing the skiing and showing what I have learned through them. If I do well, then I get to celebrate along with my coaches and parents. It’s up to me to show what I can really do on the water.

Also, there’s no one I am competing against except for myself. I am trying to improve and to get better PB’s. I’m not looking to beat my trick scores by thousands of points in one day. But if I improve just the smallest bit, then that means I am getting better. And I’m happy with that!

That’s why I love barefoot waterskiing. What’s your reason?

Collin Barber


Alex Youngblood: My Experience at the World Barefoot Center

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Well, there is a lot of stuff to write about, let’s just start off on all the fun experiences in this wonderful sport called Barefooting. So once you get really into a sport, you obviously want to get better at it, right?

Well I did.

My dad hooked me up with the World Barefoot Center. So I live in Michigan, but WBC was all the way in Florida! ! And at the time I was 10 years of age, so I was pretty nervous to be honest with you. But I wanted to be a world champion barefooter. Keith St. Onge and David Small are my idols, so I knew it was the right thing to do.

I toughened up and went.

Once I got there, I met people from all over the world. Some from Austria, Great Britain and also New Zealand! I was really shy at first. But once I got to know everyone, I was all right. Anyway back on topic. Once I got there it was straight to the water for me. I said at the beginning that I was committed to this. I was probably out on the water and the boat for about three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. It was tuff training, but I was willing to do whatever it takes to be the best I can be. After about a week, I was sore and tired. But I wanted to make the last week count. I worked my hardest, I got frustrated at times but I knew this stuff wouldn’t just come to you. A lot of people would be doing this sport if it was easy.

On my last day, I didn’t want to go home really, learning new tricks and techniques were more fun than I thought, and I said my goodbyes and thank you.  I really like this sport and I want to keep getting better and better. I’m definitely not giving up now!

-Alex Youngblood

Johnathan Martines: The World Barefoot Center Experience

Friday, June 7th, 2013

I live in the northern state of Pennsylvania. The last thing kids are interested in up here is getting up at the crack of dawn and jumping into a cold lake to take some head-packers at 7 in the morning to try to learn a new trick.

This is completely different at the World Barefoot Center. The first thing I noticed when I first went to the WBC was the amount of young athletes who had the same passion for the sport that I do. They were all driven and motivated to progress their skiing, and they were all having a blast doing it!

​The amount of people who love the sport of barefooting at the WBC gives the school an amazing atmosphere. At the school, you put your whole time and effort into your skiing. Even when you aren’t skiing, you are watching videos from that day’s skiing, drylanding, or watching old videos. You truly get to spend your whole life on improving your skiing.

​Another thing I love about the WBC is that everyone is so friendly. Swampy Bouchard, Dave Small, Keith St. Onge, Ben Groen, AJ Porecca, and Ash Stebbeings were the leaders when I went last summer. They set a great example for the entire team on how to be friendly and personable. I was a bit shy and timid when I first went down. The crew down there, especially Swampy, worked to break me of that bit of shyness.

The atmosphere is like no other at the WBC. Everyone is friendly and gets along. I spent a good portion of my summer at the WBC last year. I can honestly tell you there was not one argument or fight between any of the students all summer that I saw. Everyone helped each other out and worked to improve each other’s skiing. I cannot say enough about how amazing the WBC is. The memories I have made at the WBC are ones I will never forget. There is nowhere else on earth where I can find some many young skiers that love the sport, and so much knowledge of the sport from the instructors.

Ricky Bruce: Living the Dream at the World Barefoot Center

Monday, May 27th, 2013

I am relatively new to the sport of Barefoot Water skiing. Around 2 years ago, I had my introduction to barefooting through my good friend and skiing buddy, Randal Meikle. A day out on the boom and I was hooked! I didn’t ski again untill later in the year and at best, it was the odd weekend here and there – pretty sporadic really.

I attended a clinic in NZ with Ben Groen of WBC in early 2012 when he was back home visiting family. Under Ben’s coaching, I managed to get up for the first time longline. It was exhilarating to be out behind the boat on nothing but my bare feet.

The following few weeks I went out every week and attended the annual “May Camp” held in New Zealand on Lake Karapiro. There, I met some great people involved in the local NZ barefoot scene and planned to get coaching from Rob Groen, visiting down at the lake in Otaki. After a couple of skiing weekends at the beautiful Lake Inspiration working on the basics, I mentioned to Rob I was planning at some stage to get over to the World Barefoot Center and ski a few weeks.Next thing I know I am forwarded an email. It was an opportunity to go to the WBC to help out for a year and ski. Needless to say, It didn’t take me long to decide this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Two short months later, I found myself on a plane headed to Florida.

First impressions of the school were: welcoming,friendly, well-run and disciplined. I knew I would have to step out of my comfort zone here, as I am naturally pretty shy by nature.

Twelve weeks down the track, I’ve had a few mishaps,a lot of mistakes, and also an injury, I’m still here and loving it! I have the privilege of being coached by the world’s best as well as seeing countless barefooters learn and train here at the WBC on pretty much a daily basis.The experience of observing others learn is pretty awesome and has been incredibly valuable to my own skiing and development. Add to those aspects the chance to meet so many of the global barefoot family, and watch the sport grow as more and more get involved. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot more of you footers as you come to the WBC coaching school in 2013.

There you have it…opportunity and privilege. I am Ricky Bruce from New Zealand and I am living the dream!


Brody Meskers: From Hydromites to the World Barefoot Center

Saturday, May 18th, 2013
When I firsted started to compete I trained with the Chetek Hydromites. The Hydromites were my Show Ski team mates from the Chetek Hyroflites Waterski Show Team, which included Justin and Brandon Books and Derek Buchman.

Even though I was younger than the other boys, I started out with a big advantage–I was barefooting for a  longer time. But that advantage didn’t last long. before you know it Brandon and Derek were doing the same tricks as me. So that forced me to train harder. But the harder I trained the harder Derek and Brandon trained.

The next year, my Dad said Brandon would probably pass me because his skiing was coming along so well. And the year after he thought the same of Derek. Every day I skied with them I wanted to be the best in the boat some days I wasn’t– but if it were not for my Hydromite team mates, I never would have made it to the greatest barefoot team in the world:  World Barefoot Center.

Brody Meskers

Featured Footer: Brody Meskers

Collin Barber: My Personal Growth at the World Barefoot Center

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013


When I first came to the World Barefoot Center a little over two years ago, I was one shy kid. I was 14 back then, and it actually surprises me now when I look back at it. I was awkward with conversations. I had no idea how to start one. I was always doing my own thing like sitting in my room reading or doing homework or listening to my music or anything else besides talking and interacting very much with others. It’s not that I didn’t LIKE to talk to people, it’s just that I didn’t really think I was GOOD at it. And that probably came from a low self-esteem. I didn’t have much confidence, so like I said, I would always be doing my own little thing. And people, like my mom, would always ask me, “Why don’t you talk more?”. My answer would be, “Well I’m just always thinking”. Which, yeah, I guess was kinda true. But that was probably just an excuse to make me feel better about being quiet.

After I became a sponsored member, I had plenty of pow-wows with none other than Swampy. And he told me the exact same thing my parents had been telling me for the past couple years: “If you don’t talk and be social with people around you, they’ll think you’re stuck up and stand-offish”. This always made me mad, because I didn’t think I was stuck up. That was the last thing I ever wanted anyone to think about me. But I understood what they were saying. And the only way to change it was to be social, and it was difficult for me. To be social, I had to have confidence to be comfortable with myself. I had to change my whole look on myself and life.


And this is where the WBC mainly comes in. Being at the WBC constantly meant being around new people and making new friends and new conversations. Of course, learning how to be social meant a lot of trial and error… So there was a lot of awkward instances when I tried to talk with people. But being around everyone, like Swampy, at the WBC helped me open up and be comfortable with myself, which in turn made me more sociable. I learned how to loosen up, smile more, come in on group conversations, and help people out. Within the past 2 years, I have changed immensely, and I love the change. I feel happier and better about myself. I actually WANT to talk to people now. Of course, some of this change might have been from basically growing up from age 14 to age 17 and maturing, but still. The WBC and everyone involved it have definitely impacted me the greatest. They’ve helped me as much on the water as they have off the water. I wouldn’t change anything in these past two years.

Keith, Dave, Ben, Ashleigh, AJ, and Swampy, Thanks for everything! =)

– Collin Barber


Stefan Wimmer: My First Experience as a Sponsored Skier

Sunday, April 28th, 2013


Ben and Ted picked me up from the airport and we arrived at the WBC around 10 pm. I met Swampy, and Ben quickly showed me around the house where I would stay for the next three weeks. Later on, we talked about my skiing – what level I am on right now, and what I want to learn. Before I went to bed, I started to get nervous because Swampy says to me “Let’s see tomorrow what you can do on the water.”

The morning started really good. I met the other team members and we all ate breakfast together. I felt really good to be here with all these other skiers from all over the world, to train with them. I enjoyed every single minute spent with them.

At 8 o’clock we went out for the first set and I started to get nervous again, because I wanted to impress Swampy and the other team members with my skiing. The first set was really good, because I did my skiiing well and enjoyed being back on the water. The next two days I went out with Ben, just to be on the water and get my feeling back. We did a lot of basics on the shoes, and some on my feet.

A few days later, we started to work on my skiing to get up to the next level, if it was Slalom, Tricks or Jump, Swampy, David, Keith and Ben would all put some pressure on me to see if I could pass. At the begining it was really hard to get over my fear and to trust my skiing, but at the end of each day, I was happy with my skiing and my mental strength continued to grow. I had a lot of challenges on the water, and it pushed me to my limit!!

Barefooting is not an easy sport so I had good and bad days, my skiing was on and off. When I had bad days and nothing worked on the water the way I wanted, I always had my goals and idols in my mind which kept me motivated.



In those three weeks I learnt so much about Barefooting, and those guys pushed me to the next level of my skiing. Since I have been a skier of the World Barefoot Center, I have learnt to get over my fears, and challenge myself on the water. I am really proud to be part of the greatest Water ski school in the World.

Stefan Wimmer

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