Stacy: Air Sign, marketing and advertising, it was inspired by 1930’s Richard Branson World record skiing behind a blimp. T-Mobile was showcasing their new Samsung 9 phone, and how incredibly FAST it is!
Tony: The chance for the ride of a lifetime came from a simple call from my fellow club show
skier Stacy Norred. I followed her lead and was invited by the organizer to come down along with about a dozen other local collegiate and tournament skiers from the area. The event was a promo to celebrate
the release of the Samsung Galaxy 9 phone( as mentioned above) and we tried to break records based in
multiples of 9. They even had an adjudicator from Guinness World Record out to witness
the attempts - blue blazer and English accent included. As the event unfolded we found
that only 3 of the proposed records were pre-sanctioned by Guinness: furthest distance
skiing behind a blimp (9km), fastest texting behind a blimp while skiing, and 9 skiers
behind a blimp at one time. The event organizers had a list of other proposed records like
furthest distance on a kneeboard and wakeboard (trying for 9km), most flips on a
kneeboard and wakeboard (trying for 9), etc.
Check out the official commercial below!!
Stacy: So it was two days of skiing, the first day I was on jumpers. Probably going around 22mph, the water was so rough! The second day I swiveled and I asked them if they could go as slow as they could...we were going about 18-20mph. (That is pretty fast, considering the average swivel speed is anywhere from 14-15mph.)
Tony: The blimp powered up to over 30 mph, so I throttled him down to around 26-27. I decided to go “off the board” with the sit down hydrofoil, and be the first one to flip behind a blimp.
Stacy: Deep Start, well, flying deep start (haha)! It pretty much pulled me up and out of the water, into the air and then I landed back on the water and started skiing. It was AWESOME!!
There was a jet skier and two chase boats. The jet skier grabbed the rope dragging in the water and then brought it to me, I had about 8 seconds between the time I had grip on the handle and when I was going, the rope was 300 ft long and very springy!
My goal was 9 flips followed by a 9km ride, and then some show time until I fell. That
was a tall order when about half of the riders missed their deepwater starts.
I strapped into my foil, tried to calm my racing heart and waited in awe as the blimp
turned into the ski pattern. As a kid I remember the GoodYear blimp occasionally flying
over my house and that was a great thrill. Now the T-Mobile blimp was only 150 feet
over my head, and coming for me! A rider on a PWC retrieved the handle an zoomed it
up for a nerve-wracking transfer. The blimp went to neutral while it passed directly
overhead. I kept repeating to myself “you will make this start and land every flip…stay
The line came tight, but there was a delay - the rope was a 300-foot long rubber band! I
leaned back hard and still just barely avoided being pulled out the front. Whew! First
challenge down. He reduced his altitude and we locked in the flight pattern. He was an
amazing pilot for such a large craft. I took a few moments to revel in the ride, It was the
longest rope I have ever skied on. And it went out and up a long way to a giant white
blimp. I snapped back from reverence to reality: my rope was a bungee cord. I wasn’t worried so much about the flip, it was serious concern about but trying to ride away while hanging on to a noodle. I tested
the waters with a few jumps. Everything felt surprisingly normal except the miles of
slack and spring in the rope. It was now or never and every ounce of my being
concentrated on perfect form. The thrill of the blimp ride faded away as I put myself in
the zone. The first flip was perfect! Even with the rope recoil I had landed so perfectly
that it was not a problem. “Stay focused” I reminded myself, “you got lucky”. It became
a countdown for 9 flips, and I nearly fell twice during the attempt. It really took
everything I had to pull it off. After landing my 9th flip I got super pumped, realizing this
was something really special. Fist pumps and primal screams ensued. After a minute of
celebration it was time to settle down and go for the distance record. Off course I could
make the distance, but my major worry was hitting something in the water like a fish, as
happens every so often while foiling. It was just a few seconds into the first leg of the
first lap that I did hit something and found myself instantly in the water, wistfully
watching my beautiful balloon motoring away. What a ride!
Tony: 20+ years
Stacy: 9 years! I am also very excited about USA-WSWS name change, I think it provides more inclusion to water sports enthusiasts and will help grow our sport even more.
Stacy: Simply put, enjoying time on the water with friends and family!
Water skiing has brought so much to my life, my 7 year old daughter just recently asked for a swivel ski, and for me that's when it all came full circle and that is why I love #LifeOnTheWater .
Tony: Surprisingly enough I have wanted to ski behind a blimp. After making a bit of a splash
by riding 50 different things in one day to celebrate my 50th birthday I have made a list
of all the things I would like to ski BEHIND. My list was inspired by an article in the
1970s “The Water Skier” magazine. The story featured a guy who had ridden behind
eight or nine things, and was even trying to get a tow by a train. My dream list has more
than two dozen tow ideas, anybody know someone with access to a submarine?
#LifeOnTheWater is very personal to me. It’s a lifetime endeavor of family and friends,
inspiring each other to new ways of riding.
ONE MORE THING...
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