ST. PETERSBURG — As delighted spectators watched on the beach, a man buckled into a harness and kite and flew 350 feet above St. Pete Beach.
Hal Elgin couldn't see them, however. By the time he was in the air he was stone cold unconscious.
Doctors would later tell him he had been flying with a broken neck, an injury sustained from a fall earlier the same day.
When his wife turned the boat, he failed to adjust and plummeted into the Gulf of Mexico.
A priest at Palms of Pasadena Hospital gave last rites. The hospital told Mr. Elgin's family that he had died.
That was 35 years ago. Since then, Mr. Elgin, the Tampa Bay area's pioneer of trick water skiing, hang gliding and parasailing, has been injured many more times and gotten back up.
On Sunday, Mr. Elgin , a St. Petersburg firefighter and daredevil, died for the second and final time. He was 75. His ripples of influence have spread as far as Europe and Japan.
"Basically anyone within a 150-mile radius of St. Petersburg who has skied professionally at Cypress Gardens, Sea World Orlando or any of the professional ski shows in the country at one time or another have learned from or skied with Hal in ski shows," said Gary Stout, a former top-tier water skier in California and Florida.
His legendary exploits include skiing 1,600 miles with nearly a dozen other skiers from St. Petersburg to the 1964 New York World's Fair. The St. Petersburg World's Fair Water Ski Team cut across the Cross Florida Barge Canal and up the coast. Skiers went over ocean swells higher than the boat, through fields of jellyfish and around debris that included floating logs.
After moving from Ohio in 1953, Mr. Elgin taught himself to ski. Following a stint in the Air Force, he opened a ski school in St. Pete Beach to help get through St. Petersburg Junior College. He founded an amateur team, the Aquamaniacs, and a business, Hal Elgin Holiday Water Sports.
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Breanne Wagner returned to a familiar setting and successfully defended her senior title in women's slalom Friday at the Canadian water skiing championships.
"(Abbotsford) is where I lived as a teenager and really improved my skiing," said Wagner, 26, who now resides in Surrey, B.C.
"I was very happy with my performance. My season has been inconsistent this year and I really wanted to come here and get the victory."
While Wagner is an established veteran in the sport, Taryn Grant of Winnipeg showed why she is an emerging star as she won the women's junior slalom. The 15-year-old took the silver medal in jump earlier this month at the world junior championships.
"It went pretty well," said Grant, who also won jump and was fourth in tricks this week. "I didn't have my best pass but I got through it."
By Scott Smith
For her 80th birthday, Chloe Kirksey wanted to feel warm sun rays, a steady breeze and the cool splash from water skiing, and so she did.
The Mulberry resident spent all of Aug. 2 celebrating the dawn of her eighth decade with friends and family at her family's condo at Lake Hamilton. Kirksey did what she frequently does - water ski on one board, which is called slalom - and she can't wait to go back.
"I told myself that on my 80th birthday, I would stop water skiing," said the 1948 Fort Smith High School graduate. "There's nothing like water skiing — that feeling — so I later told myself that if I still wanted to do it, then I guess I would."
Kirksey and her husband, Joe, make it a tradition to spend the summer, holidays, birthdays and other occasions with family and friends at the lake. Their condo is frequented by their three children and nine grandchildren.
"I taught all of our children to water ski, and I was allowed to teach our grandchildren how to water ski, as well," said Chloe Kirksey, a native of Lamar. "It was my place for our children to teach their children how to do it, but they wanted Cocoa — that's what the grandkids call me — to do it. They and their parents knew how much I love water skiing, so they wanted me to teach them."
Kirksey used to be active at the gym, on walking trails and in a yoga class, but these days, her main form of exercise is water skiing.
"A lot of people think that slalom is hard, and, yes, it is, but it is easier than being on two skis," she said with a laugh. "It's harder to come up, and a lot of people think it's amazing that I can still come up."
Compared to top of the line skis that cost 3 times as much, the V is stable and predictable. Compared to other skis in the same price range, the V is remarkably high performance. The V does a great job filling the gap between ultra high end skis and lower level skis. With a MSRP of only $349 (blank), I think the V is the best ski for the money that I have ever ridden.
I rode this ski under 2 different mindsets.
First, I rode the V as if under INT Wide Ride rules (the 67” V is a little more then 7 ¼” wide). At 30 mph, the V was not only a lot of fun, but it also took me down the line into 39 off.
Second, I treated the V as a normal 34 mph ski and ran into 38 off (within few balls of my normal score on a top of the line ski).
The V turns with smooth arcs until pushed. If pushed, the V will comply with sharp changes in direction. Whereas some high-end skis will punish a skier for not being in perfect position, the V is very forgiving at the ball.
When the V is ridden beyond its limits at 34 mph, it does not hold angle and direction off the ball like a high-end ski. To be fair, I rode the V pretty far past its practical limit to find its bad habits. I think that mid-32 off at 34 mph is the practical limit for this ski. Ridden at 28 off 34 mph or less, the V holds plenty of angle. At 30 mph, I did not reach the ski’s limit.
The real surprise with the V is the width at the ball. The V gets as wide at 34 mph as any ski at any price. Ridden at 34 mph 35 off, the V carries direction from the wakes and out in front of the ball with ease.
For 2011, Connelly has two skis that I highly recommned. If you are running 32 off 34 mph and beyond, I recommend the Connelly Prophecy. See my 2008 Prophecy review. If you are anywhere between learning to run the course and running 28 off 34 mph, the V is a great choice. If you are skiing INT Wide Ride, the V is the real deal.
NEWBERRY SPRINGS • In a barren corner of the High Desert, near the end of a lonely desert dirt road, a water sports oasis is home to the nation’s leading water skiing trainer.
Dr. Jack “Doc” Horton first built Horton Lakes in the late 1960s because when he first moved to California to begin a career in medicine in the mid-’60s, he thought we was moving to a water skiing heaven.
“Instead I learned it was the armpit of water skiing,” said Horton.
Now, Newberry Springs, just east of Barstow, hosts 11 other water sport specific man-made lakes that use Horton’s design.
Nearly 40 years later Horton can’t remember the exact reason why he selected Newberry Springs, but knows he looked through most of Southern California. He does know land cost played a big role. Through the years he learned certain parts of Newberry Springs also have a thicker base of clay, which limits leaking.
As his medical practice grew he saved his money to begin building what he considered the perfect conditions for water skiing.
On August 29th / 30th, the Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup series will celebrate the staging of its 30th Stop of this series in ChunCheon City, South Korea. As part of the first ever World Leisure Games, World Cup athletes from 17 countries will join over 13,000 athletes from 50 countries, scheduled to compete at this major inaugural international event. The 2009 World Wakeboard Championships were also successfully staged here at Uiam Lake just one year ago.
To qualify for this 30th Stop of the World Cup Series only the highest ranked athletes in the world made it through. On this occasion this will include the three disciplines of Wakeboard, Waterski Jump and Waterski Shortboard. MasterCraft will again supply the Competition Boats and technical support.
The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) has now confirmed the athletes who will compete. These include both World Record Holders and World Champions, plus many National Champions. As this is the first World Leisure Games ever staged, the TV coverage of the Games in South Korea will be extensive. This will provide a perfect stage for the large viewing audience to enjoy the skills of the very best performances of the World's highest ranked Wakeboard Riders and Waterskiers.
Apart from the TV coverage within South Korea of the World Leisure Games, the World Cup Stop at ChunCheon City will feature in both TV News Edits and a 26 minute edited highlights show which will be distributed to over 500 million viewers. Broadcast details, where available, will be published on the World Cup Website at : www.waterskiandwakeboardworldcup.com
By Bruce Campbell, Sports Writer Enid News and Eagle
ENID — Oklahoma Bible Academy assistant football coach Todd Kuykendall tries to lead by example so his players “can be the best they can be.’’
He can only hope they do follow his example at the recent national water skiing championships in Wilm-ington, Ill.
Kuykendall won the men’s 4 division in the 44-52 age group with a personal best score of two at 41 off. He ran through four buoys to take his second national crown.
Kuykendall has been competing in the sport for 21 years. He trains at a ski lake five miles north of town that he helped built with his brother, Greg, Bill Ward and Dana Lamunyon 10 years ago.
He lives by the lake which makes it convenient for his training.
The skiing is a welcome relief from the stress of not only coaching but being involved in the family hearing aid business and owning Uptown Subs.
“It’s almost like worship to me,’’ Kuykendall said. “God has given me the ability and talent to go out and compete. I honor him in my skiing. I enjoy doing it.’’
Kuykendall was able to balance his time to train enough to be successful on a national level.
DARTFORD’S Damien Sharman is set to compete for Great Britain in this week’s European water ski championships at Thorpe in Surrey.
Sharman will compete in the jump competition individually and as part of the Great British team.
He is ranked number two in the European and number four in the world elite rankings and will join 150 of the top water skiers in Europe for the most high-profile water skiing event held in the UK for 20 years.
Skiers from 30 countries will take to the water to do battle at the highest level for team and individual discipline glory, and the highly successful British jump team known as British Air Force, is expected to continue its winning streak.
The disciplines of slalom skiing, jumping and trick skiing will all be on show and the action will culminate with some nail-biting finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Britain’s team features many European and world champions in all disciplines and will be keen to make a mark in their home event.
To follow Sharman’s progress at the event, visit 2010europeans.com
The Mesa girls, 6 and 3 years old, recently returned from the 2010 Water Ski National Championships in Wilmington, Ill.
Katelyn came in seventh place in tricks and 12th place overall. Kimberly came in 19th in tricks and 14th overall. The girls compete in the same division.
"Both of them were really excited," said Jennifer Westover, the girls' mom.
Kimberly competed in the national competition as the youngest-ever child to qualify. Both girls scored enough points in the Western Regional Water Ski Championships in Caldwell, Idaho to qualify for nationals. Katelyn took home first place in the tricks category at the regional competition.
Westover started skiing when she was 11 when her family took up the sport. She went on to ski for Arizona State University on a scholarship, and the team captured first place during her last year at collegiate nationals. She handed the tradition down to her daughters.
Jerry Worthington, Westover's father and the girls' grandfather, said the family learned to ski in Mesa, then bought a boat.
As part of its continued support for the growth of towed watersports in Australia and around the world, Nautique announced today they have signed a five-year agreement with the Victorian Water Ski Association (VWSA) to be the exclusive official towboat of the Moomba Masters through 2015.
Three-event competitors will ski exclusively behind the legendary Ski Nautique 200 that creates the industry’s best wakes and is the current Slalom World Record boat. Wakeboard competitors will ride behind the Super Air Nautique 230, the boat of choice to ride behind by top pros around the world.
“All of us at the VWSA are extremely excited and honored to continue our alliance with Nautique Boats. Moomba Masters is a prestigious event that demands the best towboats in the world which only Nautique can provide,” commented Victorian Water Ski Association President and Moomba Masters Tournament Director Darren Robertson.
“We are extremely excited to continue our longstanding partnership with THE VWSA and provide the highest quality boats for the Moomba Masters,” stated Nautique President/CEO Bill Yeargin. “We look forward to continuing our support in growing and promoting towed water sports in Australia and around the world,” Yeargin added.
The Moomba Masters has more than 700,000 spectators annually witness this event over the six-day Moomba Festival in downtown Melbourne, on the majestic YaRra River. The Moomba festival is held annually, and will run from March 9th to the 14th in 2011.
Celebrating 85 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft, Inc. is the producer of the Nautique line of boats. The manufacturer of Nautique is known for delivering superior quality product, cutting-edge technology and exceptional service experiences. To see the complete line of Nautique boats, visit www.nautiques.com.
SKI CLUB OF THE PALM BEACHES TO HOST SLALOM JAMBOREE AND NIGHT EVENT AT OKEEHEELEE PARK IN WEST PALM BEACH FL
Ski Club of the Palm Beaches is hosting a head to head double elimination cash prize tournament on September 18 and 19, 2010.
This is open to Women 35 years of age plus who have not skied in Open Division at the 2009/10 Nationals or placed in the top 5 in a cash prize tournament in the last 3 years. Requirements: 3@32’ 32/34mph but must ski 34mph in event. Scores obtained from June 2009 to present to qualify. 16 entries accepted.
Men 35 years of age plus who have not skied in Open Division at the 2009/10 Nationals or placed in a cash prize professional tournament within the last 3 years or won prize money in a Big Dawg Final in the last 3 years. Requirements: 3@38’off. 24 entries accepted.
There are two brackets, the WINNERS BRACKET and the LOSERS BRACKET. All skiers begin in the Winners Bracket.
If the skier wins, they continue in the Winners Bracket skiing against other skiers who have not lost until there is one undefeated skier who is declared the winner of the Winners Bracket.
If the skier loses, they move to the Losers Bracket where they will ski against another skier who has lost once. If they continue to win, they will eventually be declared the winner of the Losers Bracket. If they lose, they are done (unless they have only skied twice in which case they can ski their 3rd round in the Record Tournament-time permitting).
At this point, the winner of the Winners Bracket skis against the winner of the Losers Bracket. If the winner of the Winners Bracket wins, they are declared the winner of the event. If the winner of the Losers Bracket wins, then they ski against each other again to determine the winner of the event.
The prize money is awarded for 5 places
1st- $1000.00 / 2nd- $400.00 / 3rd - $300.00 / 4th - $200.00 / 5th - $100.00
There will also be a Night Skiing competition for those who skied in the head to head or regular record tournament. Men and women of any age are able to enter. Names will go into a hat to determine by drawing the 8 skiers that will ski and there will be handicap scoring. There is no entry fee for the night tournament if you skied in our head to head or record.
There will be a party barbecue Saturday night with music and food. Sign up now.
Go to www.okeeski.com for more information Entry deadline September 7th, 2010