Once upon a time I used to enjoy water skiing. Not competitive skiing, just first drag me behind my uncles’ 14 footer with a 40 hp Johnson outboard on a peaceful lake in New Hampshire. On a good day I could take off from the dock on two skis, drop one and then slalom around the lake until we came back to the cottage. If I wiped out, it would be a long haul, and I mean haul, back to the cottage because the boat just didn’t have the power, or I the technique, to get up on one ski. Those were the good “old” days.
I began photographing good skiers on the Farmington River in Collinsville where a slalom course was setup. I was struck by the power and grace the skiers displayed slashing back and forth across the wake then stretching to make it around a set of buoys along the course. There was a ramp in the river as well which the skiers would launch themselves off. The people I met there told me about the Avon Old Farms Ski Club, which has a history of turning out national champion skiers.
That first visit in 2000 to “The Pond”, as most members call it, I met the Haines family. Haley Haines, then 7, was ready to take the next step up as waits for her turn behind the boat at the Connecticut Old Farms Water Ski Club in Avon. Her father Hutch, an accomplished skier, owns the land where the club is located and trains his children.
(L to R) In 2005 Julian, 8, Wyatt, 10, and Haley, 11, all competed last week at the Goode National Waterski Championships in West Palm Beach, FL. Wyatt took first place in the Boys 1 dividion, ages 10 and under, in the slalom. Julian competed for the first time and Haley competed in the Girls 2 division.
Wyatt showed his winning form during a practice run on his home course after he took first place in the Boys 1 division, ages 10 and under, at the 2005 Goode National Waterski Championships.
I got a call from Hutch just before the Labor Day weekend to tell his kids had done very well at this years Nationals and wondered if I would be interested in coming out for some photos. Seven years later Wyatt’s form is a little more polished and aggressive which helped him finish in second place during the 2012 Goode Water Ski National Championships in West Palm Beach, Florida August 14-18th. His best run was 3.25 buoys at a rope length of 39.5 ft off. More than 600 water ski athletes from across the United States competed for national titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall in respective age divisions and two Open divisions during the five-day tournament.
Quinn Haines, 13, placed high enough in the final standings of the 2012 Goode Water Ski National Championships in West Palm Beach, Florida, during the week of August 14-18th that he made the U-13 USA Team. He is headed to the Malibu Pan American Water Ski Championships in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, September 12-15th.
During the preliminary heat today Quinn placed first with a jump of 37.1 meters or 121.7192 feet.
I shot a couple of videos of Wyatt and Quinn as well as a couple photos. Wyatt takes you on a wild run through the slalom course and Quinn takes you on a flight off the ramp as he practiced his jumping.
Hope you enjoy.
Pro Tip: I used a variety of cameras for this video shoot. Two GoPros in waterproof cases, a Contour GPS in a waterproof case and a JVC pro video camera from on board the boat. I was able to mount two cameras on the ramp, the Contour was on the side using a magic arm and one of the GoPros under the ramp where Quinn would be launching from. I made sure that both were in a safe location so that if Quinn were to enter the ramp early he would not get injured by hitting the camera off to the side. Dad approved both locations and was psyched with the prospects these spots could produce. I put other GoPro on Quinns’ helmet. This allowed me to get two different angles of him approaching the ramp and two as he flew through the air and then landing. I got some help editing from Mike Piskorski and Scott Vargas of FOXCT which helped a lot in matching and blending sound from all those sources.
For the slalom video I put a GoPro in a harness strapped to Wyatt’s chest and let him make a couple passes. I shot from the boat with the JVC and then cut the two clips trying to match the sequences as he sped through the course. Then I just added a high voltage guitar track to give it a little splash.
Working with people that are willing to try a few tricks made it all worth while.
Good luck this week Quinn!