Barefoot daredevils in Dimboola
The Wimmera will add to its claim as regional Victoria’s headquarters for adrenaline sport when some of the nation’s best barefoot water-skiers compete at Dimboola.
Dimboola Boat and Water Ski Club, in partnership with Barefoot Waterski Australia, will present the second Peter Taylor Memorial Night Jump and Tournament this weekend.
Organisers have promised two days of spectacular action on the banks of the Wimmera River, with acrobatic jump action under lights on Saturday night before a fireworks display set to be a major highlight.
Organisers expect a crowd at Dimboola Recreation Reserve to swell well beyond the 800 that attended the inaugural extravaganza last year, with competitors travelling from across Australia to be involved.
Dimboola ski club president Darren Bone said the event fitted neatly into efforts to raise the region’s tourism profile and also its reputation for putting on high-action sporting events.
“This is spectacular stuff and quite amazing. The barefoot inverted jumping from the ramps is mind-blowing,” he said.
“You have to see it to understand just how amazing it is. And under lights to the thumping sound of backing music creates an electric atmosphere and makes it even more spectacular.”
The event has attracted 30 competitive barefoot skiers.
Action will start at 7.30am on Friday and continue to 5pm.
A Saturday start will also be at 7.30am with competition continuing throughout the afternoon before the night jump challenge.
To beat last year’s mark, jumpers will have to clear about 26 metres.
Competitors, some of them among the best barefoot skiers in Australia, will aim to clear between 24 and 28 metres.
Much of the two-day tournament will feature junior and senior competitors competing in trick and slalom events.
Mr Bone said competitors were travelling from as far as Queensland, NSW and South Australia to compete.
“Australian representative and national jump champion Ben Franks from Adelaide will return to defend his title. Youtube sensation Brendan Page from the Gold Coast will be there and 17-year-old international champion schoolboy Tee-jay Russo from Newcastle is competing,” he said.
The tournament is named in honour of former Dimboola club stalwart and internationally recognised skier Peter Taylor who died year.
Mr Taylor’s son Michael, a former world number-two junior barefoot jumper, will compete at the weekend.
“We’re keen for the locals as well as the broader Wimmera community to get around this event,” Mr Bone said.
“These competitors will jump 13 to 14 metres high while hanging onto a ski rope.
“We’ve had outstanding support from sponsors and if people missed it last time this is a chance to come back and see something special.
“It’s noisy and there is great crowd involvement.”
Dimboola Boat and Water Ski Club is working closely with Dimboola Rowling Club, which will have its annual regatta the following week.
“We’ve been told the Dimboola Rowing Club set-up, with its launch area and spectator opportunities, is one of the best for barefoot water-skiing not only in Australia, but in the world,” Mr Bone said.
Fireworks at Dimboola Recreation Reserve after the barefoot challenge will complete the tournament.
Organisers have asked people attending the event for gold coin donations to go to Wimmera Cancer Centre. last
FULL FLIGHT: Defending Dimboola barefoot jumps champion Ben Franks, pictured in action on the Wimmera River last year, will be back to defend his title. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER