Back on the water for Barefoot Waterski Nationals

Glenn Porter performing a 180-degree tumble turn trick. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

A Warburton/Lilydale resident is set to represent Victoria in the 62nd edition of the Australian Barefoot Water Ski Nationals.

52-year-old Glenn Porter will be jetting off to Perth for the event on Sunday 7 April, competing in the Senior Men’s division (over 35s) over the week-long event.

Porter said while he waterskied from the ages of 10 to about 18, he wasn’t introduced to competitive barefoot waterskiing until he was 30.

A lot of really good competitive barefooters start when they’re 10, 12 or 14, competing whereas I had started when I was 30 and living up here in Warburton, there was really no place to water ski,” he said.

“I had to travel to a number of the public rivers and from there I ended up competing and travelling Australia to competitions and made a whole ton of friends across Australia.”

Barefoot waterskiing is the sport of waterskiing without the skis with competitors able to compete in trick, slalom or jumping events. Without skis, barefooters have to travel faster in order to be able to stay upright, usually around the 50 to 70km/h range depending on their weight.

Mr Porter said he shares his time living between Warburton, Lilydale and Geelong, where he keeps his boat and is a member of the local water ski club on the Barwon River.

“The Geelong Waterski Club is probably one of best ski clubs in Australia on the Barwon River and has produced many world champions including probably the greatest skier of all-time skier Jacinta Carroll who is a five-time world Jump champion and five World Record holder,” he said.

“I’m also coached by a world barefoot waterski gold medalist Dr. John Stekelenburg who’s a local of Geelong, he not only was a former world champion back in 1983 but also went on to become a competed at the world championships as a triathlete as well so I’ve got a really good crew down in Geelong.”

According to his Australian Waterski and Wakeboard profile, Dr Stekelenburg represented Australia at three World Championships and was the world Open Men’s Trick champion at age of 16, while also holding 17 individual medals, a world record for Trick, Slalom and Starts and having been crowned two times as Men’s National Champion.

Porter said he helps prepare for events when he’s home in the Yarra Ranges by relaxing in the Yarra River, mountain bike riding and walking with his parents and gets into the water when he’s down in Geelong.

“Down there I’m literally three minutes away from the water, we normally train at 6 o’clock in the morning for an hour or so and on and off the water, everything’s targeted, training-specific, and it’s all about, at my age, trying to learn new tricks in your off-season during the winter and then avoiding injury in the spring and summer,” he said.

“In the lead up to this tournament, I’ve had training sessions organized to I work on some of the maneuvers that I am not quite getting as smoothly, so then what I will do is I go and isolate that movement and so I’ll do another run where I will just try and make that move a little bit better.”

Porter is currently ranked 124th in the world for Barefoot Senior Men according to the latest International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation rankings. He has won state titles in Victoria and Western Australia when based there for work, represented the Over 35s Australian Masters team and done barefoot waterski demonstrations for the Moomba International Waterski event on the Yarra River.

Porter said water skiing is a really high-risk extreme sport but it also gives a very high level of reward as well.

“Barefoot watersking brought back the feeling of when I first learned how to ski at 10 years of age, the feeling of stepping off a ski while the boat is going at speed, and feeling the sensation of the water hitting like one foot, and then lifting up a ski and having the spray in my face, and all of a sudden the spray is slowly disappearing, and I was looking down at my feet and I’m standing in the water,” he said.

“There’s no better feeling then when a trick round is executed, the feeling of that is just amazing and it might even be a 15-second feeling of joy but may have taken a whole year to get to that point.”

Porter wanted to thank his safety spotter Russell Malishev who volunteers his time to come down to his training sessions, his coach Dr Stekelenurg and the Cole family of the Upper Yarra for their support.