Ageless Kelly eyeing 10th title
Age is no barrier for Bevan Kelly.
The world champion barefoot waterskier from Pauatahanui has the national champs later this month on his mind.
At 41, he said the bumps and scrapes took longer to recover from, but haven’t diminished his thirst to win.
‘‘My desire is still there. It’s the sort of person I am,’’ he said.
His class on the water shows no signs of tapering off. At recent regional competitions in Waikato, Wellington and Bay of Plenty, Kelly won two and was second in the other.
In the Bay of Plenty event, his jump and slalom sections went fine, but he was let down by his tricks.
‘‘It wasn’t one of my best days, but it was a good wake-up call going into nationals.’’
He did, however, break an Australasian jump record by a metre when he flew 25.6m.
Kelly said it was nice to earn the record back after his previous mark was broken by an Australian rival a year ago.
Along with competing, Kelly spends time coaching the next breed of barefoot skiers, which include his 10- year- old twins. They were showing some fine skills on the water, he said.
His love for the sport hasn’t dimmed, even after 30 years of participating at all levels.
‘‘I spend a lot of time with kids and that’s what I love – it gives me a huge kick seeing them improving.
‘‘I never pushed my kids into the sport, but it’s what they’ve grown up with.
‘‘It’s hard to explain what the feeling is like until you stand up on the water and skim across the top. It’s amazing.’’
Training – which he does mostly in Wairarapa – and competition lasts from October until May, when the cold weather keeps most skiers off the lakes.
Wetsuits kept you warm, but there was no protection for your feet in the icy water, he said.
Kelly was rapt to receive the sportsman’s award at last year’s Porirua Sports evening.
‘‘I’ve lived in Porirua all my life and I was really chuffed to have that recognition for the sport.’’
There are no world champs this year, but the 2016 world event, to be confirmed in either the United States or Australia, is not far from his thoughts. Kelly will be after his third world title.
In the nationals, at Lake Inspiration in Otaki from March 26 till 28, Kelly will be gunning for his 10th national title since 1996.
He expected about 35 skiers in the different age groups.
Dedicated: Barefoot waterskier Bevan Kelly.