Find out everything about a new water sport: Barefoot water skiing.

Do you  like water sports? Have you ever dreamed of walking on water? We’re sure you have! We can assure you that barefoot water-skiing is the closest thing to it, if not better.

Imagine yourself gliding at 32 km/h on the water with the sensation of flying. Water-skiing is definitely a unique experience, and if you want to know more about what you need and what kind of skis you need to get started, read on!

The history of water skiing

Yes, water skiing is not new. Do you feel like you’re getting into it late? You aren’t alone.

Although there are no official documents to prove it, it seems that water-skiing first appeared in Sweden. It was called “Vatternskida”, literally “skiing on a water surface”, a term that appeared in Swedish dictionaries in 1921.

However, there is also mention of two brothers (then teenagers) who started barefoot water skiing in Minnesota in 1922.

Ralph Samuelson, a young man of 18 who lived near Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota, one day had the crazy idea of skiing on water like skiing on snow. He started working on this revolutionary idea with his brother Ben.

In July 1922, Samuelson stood on his two skis for the first time and glided across the water, pulled by his brother’s boat.

Of course, by this time, their equipment was obsolete and basic. Samuelson had attached barrel staves and pieces of wood with leather straps as skis. He also used a window frame as a rudder.

Soon after trying out his equipment, he developed the right technique. He discovered that by leaning back to lift the tips of his skis, he could slide without losing his balance.

After the invention spread, Samuelson was credited with the water sport and in 1966 the American Water Ski Association credited him with the first attempt. He didn’t patent his invention, and in 1925, while Samuelson was touring the east coast of the United States promoting his new sports invention, Fred Waller developed the first water skis, which he marketed under the name Dolphin AquaSkees, after having patented them.

Thanks to his success, barefoot water skiing spread rapidly in North America and Europe in the 1930s.

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How water skiing works

Water skiing is a fairly simple sport to understand.

If you want to try barefoot water skiing, you have to wear accessories that look like snow skis and be pulled by a boat on the water. Of course, the more experienced you are, the faster you go, and the faster the boat is pulling you, the more tricks you can perform and the better your control!

Today, millions of people practice recreational water skiing, and the sport is also increasingly present in competitions. In the United States alone, more than 900 tournaments are held each year. From small local events for beginners to international competitions, everyone can compete with slaloms, tricks and jumps.

Water skiing and centripetal force

An important factor to consider is the speed of the boat pulling you. For example, if you weigh 75 kg, the boat should move at about 32 to 40 km/h.

However, if you are using a single ski, the speed needs to be increased because the surface area accumulating water pressure is less.

When you are being pulled by a boat in a straight line, the two main forces acting on you are the force of the tow-rope, created by the forward motion of the boat, and the force of the water on the skis. If the rope tension is constant, you move at the same boat speed.

However, when you move perpendicular to the direction of the boat, the waves created by the boat and its engine generate a centripetal force that also plays a role.

This force comes into play when an object moves in a curved path around another object and pulls it towards the central object.

The rope you are holding on to make you follow a curved path around the boat. And when an object follows a curve, it accelerates. So when you move forward in a curve around the boat, you are accelerating significantly!!!!

Now that we’ve bored you with our physics, let’s look at the practical aspects of water-skiing, the basics and how to get started.

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Water skiing: the basics

Although your performance depends mainly on your water-skiing skills, the person steering the boat also needs to know what they are doing to help you glide through the water safely.

To make this easier, you need to develop a method of communicating together. In short, this is what you need to do at each stage.

The Beginning

Water-skiing is started from a sitting position in the water, with your knees bent and your body weight back. Make sure the tips of your skis are out of the water.

Do your best to keep your balance, as the pulling force of the boat can make things a little difficult.

When you feel the boat accelerate and pull you harder, it’s a sign that you can start to stand up. But how do you stand up without losing your balance?

  • Continue to keep your arms straight, straighten your back and start to straighten your legs, but keep your knees bent to maintain control and maneuverability.
  • That said, it isn’t possible to get the perfect posture on the water as the boat accelerates, and you have to stand up for the first time. First, practice at home before getting on the water!
  • Stretch your arms out straight in front of you and pretend you’re going to sit in a chair, but don’t sit down. Keep your back straight and your posture firm just above the chair.
  • If you are out of its wake and off to the sides when it starts to turn, you may turn abruptly. Of course, as you progress, you can do all sorts of tricks and jumps out of the wake, but save those for later!
  • Later, if you feel like stopping, slowly squat down on your skis and let go of the rope. By sitting down when the boat is no longer around, you’ll continue to glide a little and then slowly fall back into the water.
  • By the way, avoid skiing near pontoons. This is the surest way to hit something!


Water skiing equipment

Water skiing allows you to reach speeds of up to 80 km/h, and at this speed, if something goes wrong, and you lose your balance and fall, the consequences can be serious.

For water skiers, knee and face injuries are the most common, but arms and upper body injuries aren’t spared.

Jumping, twisting and other maneuvers put pressure on your knees, which is why it’s essential to keep them slightly bent at all times. Professionals also recommend that you train and strengthen your legs and arms before water skiing to make them stronger.

Now let’s look at what type of equipment to buy to get the most out of your water skiing experience.

The things that come to mind before we get to the skis are:

  • Barefoot wetsuit: A life jacket (safety first!)
  • A boat that can reach at least 32-40 km/h.
  • Bare feet!
  • Water ski
  • Barefoot skiing
  • Padded shorts

The disciplines of water skiing

At first, you are doing recreational barefoot water skiing, but what are the competition disciplines in water skiing?


As the name suggests, this discipline consists of performing tricks on the water.

Generally, it’s practiced with short skis and without fins, instead of the usual skis, in order to have more freedom of movement to perform all kinds of tricks, like in gymnastics. In trick skiing, you ski with one or two skis depending on your style.


In slalom, the skier uses a single ski with both feet attached to it to slalom between 6 buoys.


Ski jumping is all about maximizing distance. This water skiing discipline is practiced with two long skis equipped with short, wide fins on the tail, designed to support your weight on the jump. It’s all about the jump and the skier’s ability to execute it and gain speed.


Water ski races are about going as fast as possible on a course where several skiers compete.

Water Ski Demonstrations

Water ski demonstrations are performances where several boats and skiers demonstrate their skills in front of an audience.




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