A COLLECTION of World, European and National champions descended on Watermark near South Cerney recently for the Barefoot Jump Jam.
And the experts proved that it really is possible to walk on water!
The area has a great tradition for barefoot water skiing since former world record holder in the 1990s, Richard Mainwairing, lives in Fairford.
On this occasion there was a galaxy of current stars present, but the day also provided the novice skiers – some as young as ten – with the opportunity to show off their tricks. And the general idea was to raise the profile of the sport.
Four-time world champion David Small not only came along to show his support for the event, he was also enticed to get in the icy waters from where he thrilled the crowd with three exhibition jumps.
Dave, originally from Britain, now runs his own ski school in Clermont, Florida.
He currently also holds the world record for the barefoot jump of 29.8 metres.
Also performing were Evert Aartsen from Finland, a World and European Junior Champion, and Italian national champion Filippo Ribaldone .
A novel twist to the event was the hosting of a barefoot night jump – the first ever held in the UK. Again generous sponsorship saw a quintet of high class skiers tackle the challenge.
In the end, Britain’s Gregg Meehan held off the international opposition to win with a jump of 20.3m.
He was followed home by Ribaldone 18.9m, Evert Aartsen 18.2m, Ben Harris (UK) 18m and Ted Baber (UK) 15.3m.
You can log on to you tube and view the night jump @ http://youtube/FvVCjJJMMII.
It is an exciting sport although not perhaps for the faint-hearted. PE teacher Meehan, who has just taken up the sport again after a break, has torn his bicep, dislocated a shoulder and suffered regular whiplash injuries.
“When you hit the water at 45mph, you bounce. It’s a bit like hitting concrete,” he said.
Although GB Barefoot is part of the British Water Ski Federation they receive no funding at all and are therefore always looking for sponsors to encourage the brave and talented children to compete in this extreme sport.
If anybody would like to visit the Cotswold Water Ski Club (Lake 17) on the Spine Road near South Cerney and watch the stars train or take part themselves, they can contact Dave Baber on 07899 995100 or via his email address firstname.lastname@example.org.