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ADVENTURES IN WATER SKIING: PART 2, KNEEBOARDING

P

by

Tony Klarich
Edition 1.0; November, 2012
Some Rights Reserved. The TEXT ONLY of this publication MAY be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. All use MUST be accompanied with the attribution: “From Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 2, Kneeboarding. Used with permission by http://tonyklarich.com”. TEXT ONLY is licensed under creative commons agreement (CC BY 3.0). The images (photos) MAY NOT be used, uploaded, reposted, or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission.

SERIES TITLES

>Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 1, Hot Dogging

Download interactive word document for FREE at http://tonyklarich.com

>Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 2, Kneeboarding

Download interactive word document for FREE at http://tonyklarich.com

Download audiobook for FREE at http://tonyklarich.com

Listen to individual chapters on YouTube: KNEEBOARDING Chapters Playlist

>Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 4, Hydrofoiling

Download interactive word document for FREE at http://tonyklarich.com

“Tony Klarich is a water skiing encyclopedia.  His first hand experience with so many innovations and progressions in the sport make his book a “must read” for water skiing enthusiasts.”

-Terry Dorner; Vice President, World Sports & Marketing, a division of Bonnier Corporation.

RELATED LINKS

>Adventures in Water Skiing; Kneeboard Playlist on YouTube: A playlist of links from this ebook.

>How to Kneeboard Playlist on YouTube

>How to Hot Dog Playlist on YouTube

>Hydrofoiling Playlist on YouTube: Sky Ski Junky music video, hydrofoil bike ride, the history of hydrofoiling, and many more!

>Mike Murphy: A Water Skier’s Life (YouTube videos): A thirty minute presentation documenting the life of one of the world’s best watermen.

>Tony’s Tips and Tricks on YouTube: All original content featuring mostly water ski stuff.

>Capitaine Skipper on YouTube: Classic water ski videos, TV clips & commercials.

>Adventures in Water Skiing on facebook: Featuring the wild, wacky, and classic days of water skiing.

>TonyKlarich.com Free royalty free water ski photos, back issues of Flight Hydrofoiling Newsletter, and much more!

TABLE OF CONTENTS (click to connect)

PREFACE: NOTE TO THE READER

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / PHOTOGRAPHERS

DISCLAIMER

A TURNING POINT - THE JOKER’S WILD

1: THE HISTORY OF THE KNEEBOARD

2: KNEE SKI

3: GLIDE SLIDE

4: TUNNEL BOARD

5: KNEED FOR SPEED

6: HYDROSLIDE

7: SKI MASTER

8: MAGIC TIME

9: MAIL IT IN

10: RIDING THE WAVE - COMPETITIONS

11: AERIALIST

12: WIN SOME, LOSE SOME

13: ROAD WARRIOR

14: OUT OF THE CLOSET

15: SCARED STRAIGHT

16: THIN IS IN

17: SWITCHED STANCE

18: A NEW DIRECTION

19: THIS IS THE END - OR IS IT?

REFERENCES (#s) / PHOTO CREDITS (P)

PREFACE: NOTE TO THE READER

When I first announced this project a friend asked why anyone would be interested in reading a book about me. Now I’ll have to admit that did hurt my feelings, but I thought hard about it for a couple of days, and came up with what I think is a good answer.

My “glory days” in skiing corresponded with the explosion of watersports in the 1980s and 90s, including the creation and rise of hot dogging, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and hydrofoiling. I had a front row seat to the exciting developments of each new sport as a pioneer and top competitor. Plus, I’ve already written hundreds of articles, and have a collection of thousands of photos and videos.

The point is that my personal story is also the story of these sports, how they developed, and how they relate to each other in the bigger picture. The longer format of an audio book has allowed me to dig deeper into the history than ever before. We’re far enough away from the rise of kneeboarding to get some historical perspective, but not so far to have lost touch with the innovative personalities directly responsible for creating a whole new way to ride.

The recent media developments have also allowed me to present Adventures in Water Skiing in a brand new way. To my knowledge, this is the first interactive electronic book to document the history of waterskiing. Anyone can download it instantly for FREE. This interactive ebook is embedded with dozens of photos and scores of links to magazine articles, timely websites, and classic videos.

On a final note, it is very important to me that this body of work stands as a respected historical record for water skiing. I have worked extremely hard to get the facts straight, and tell each part of the story with as much research and insight as possible. After listening to “The Wikipedia Revolution” by Andrew Lih, the importance of documentation was impressed upon me, and because of that you will now find numbered endnotes are a new part of this series. I spent hundreds of hours going back through 25 years worth of ski magazines to reference claims when appropriate. I hope that future generations who read these words can find a source of credibility, insight, and of course, entertainment.

Thank you for your time and support. 50% of the proceeds from this project are donated to the American Water Ski Educational Foundation.


Donate Now With Pay Pal.

You don’t need a Pay Pal account, just a credit card.



“Promoting and Preserving Water Ski Sports History”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / PHOTOGRAPHERS

My uncle, Mike Murphy: he led the way and I followed.

My grandmother, Mary Murphy: keeper of the family images and ageless inspiration on the water.

Herb O’Brien embraced my unique abilities and took me for a wild ride.

Carole Lowe for her invaluable research assistance at the Water Ski Hall of Fame.

Al Van: proofreader extraordinaire and always a “Huge” help.

Terry Dorner for his help with critical image acquisitions.

Mom, Dad, and my wife Shonna: endless support to follow the dream.

To the unsung heroes and helpers, I thank you all!
PHOTOS BY:

Rick Doyle

Tom King

Doug Dukane

Terrence Dorner

Terry Snow

Art Brewer

Shonna Klarich

Kelly Kingman

Alicia Rodarte

Steve Narans

Joe Domek

Lisa Roller

Mark Spencer

Jim Coons

Harvey McLeod

Bill Knight

Sandie Waters

Jungle

Jim Youngs

Grafton Marshal Smith
NOTE: Most images have a “P” next to them. Double click the “P” for more information. You can also double click the references with #s. To return to the main story double click the “P” or “#” in reference section.

DISCLAIMER

I have and will continue to make every effort to create a story that reflects how water skiing has developed, especially in the disciplines of hot dogging, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and hydrofoiling. This book is the result of thousands of hours of research. It involved reviewing hundreds of water skiing publications, conducting numerous interviews with industry insiders, and having access to the extensive research library at the Water Ski Hall of Fame. I created extensive timeline with references for each discipline. Every effort has been made to make this book as complete and accurate as possible. However, there may be mistakes, both typographical and in content. If I missed something important (storyline / timeline / photo / link), please let me know through my website: http://tonyklarich.com. The non-printed nature of this document will allow me to make corrections and improvements, and then upload the new edition.
ADVENTURES IN WATER SKIING: PART 2, KNEEBOARDING

A TURNING POINT - THE JOKER’S WILD

The UPS truck pulls to my house with a special delivery from HO Sports. I have been waiting for months, and I tear into the large box with great anticipation. A swash of primary colors covered in plastic emerges from the cardboard cradle. I’m ecstatic to see my new baby for the first time. Its name is the Joker. I designed it: the pad, the strap, the board itself; all of them are exactly to my specifications. I know we have a solid performer, but the graphics from the guys at HO have elevated the board to a whole new level. They are unlike anything I have ever seen in water skiing, let alone on a kneeboard: bold, colorful, and engaging. They just reach out and grab you.

I fixate on the character in the center of the board. He stares back with red eyes, yellow cheeks and a white face. Pointed ears peak out from under his floppy jester’s hat. In an instant I know that I will transform myself into the cartoon character I’m gazing at.

I tell my wife Shonna about my plans to become the Joker. She agrees completely, and it’s a rush to get ready for my upcoming photo shoot. Her sister volunteers to sew the festive costume in record time. Shonna finds the makeup and pointy prosthetic ears. In the next few weeks everything comes together like clockwork.

At Mike Mack’s place on the Parker Strip of the Colorado River, it’s time to shoot pictures with Rick Doyle. The water is glass calm, the sun is golden, and Doyle takes more than a hundred slides of the Joker laughing mischievously while he carves and flips. When we get back to the dock the man himself, Herb O’Brien of HO Sports, is there to greet us with an ear-to-ear grin of his own. The Joker kneeboard is his creation too, and I am the living expression of his vision. Herb poses with the Joker for a few more pictures.

P

On the Parker Strip with Herb O’Brien, 1994
Everything leading up to this moment feels right. I know that our morning shoot will result in some of the best pictures of my water skiing career. In the days before digital photography, it takes a few days to get the slides back and find out that they do. I send a few of the best pictures to the HO factory in Redmond, WA.

When the guys at HO see the photos they’re excited. They instantly put together a full-page ad featuring the Joker. Magazines around the world run big and bold pictures. I score the cover on South Africa’s Power Boat & Ski magazine. The smoke and mirrors is working.
P

Another Round of Press for Playing the Fool, 1995
My mental picture is reality. I am the Joker. A wild card. Something unexpected. A guy who can fill in wherever he is needed. It feels so good to be riding the wave one more time.
WEB LINK: Free Royalty Free Joker Images

1: THE HISTORY OF THE KNEEBOARD

Kneeboarding has had a rocky road on its way to becoming one of the mainstays of the water ski industry. 2013 marks 40 years as a commercially produced product. That’s been enough time for the kneeboard to grow from a fad in the 1970s, to public darling of the 1980s, and then mature in the mid 1990s as the Rodney Dangerfield of water skiing. And through it all kneeboarding continues to hold its own with sales of about 100,000 units per year.

The creation of any new sport is usually a drawn out series of events with an interesting cast of characters, and the development of kneeboarding was no exception. As far back as the early days of water skiing, riders experimented with kneeling down on round plywood discs. There were many others who fooled around with kneeling on surfboards and even people who rode on kneeboards made specifically for riding waves. But it was not until the early 1970s that a new product, the water ski kneeboard, was to emerge.
VIDEO LINK: Kneeboard Surfing Demonstration (modern)

2: KNEE SKI

The development of the modern day kneeboard all started with a chance meeting between my uncle, Mike Murphy, and Bud Hulst. Hulst operated El Paipo, a manufacturer of kneeboards for riding waves in the surf. His El Paipo kneeboards had a hand shaped foam core with a fiberglass wrap. A pair of rope handles was glassed into the top of the board so riders could grab them during hard turns on the waves. Each El Paipo board came standard with a single nine-inch fin and thin neoprene pad.

Mike and Bud’s first meeting occurred after Hulst attended a wave-riding contest near San Francisco, CA in 1971. The event was blown out so Bud took the opportunity to visit the nearby ski show at Marine World. Bud hung out after the show and watched as Mike, Gary Warren, and a few other Marine World skiers took turns wake surfing for a photo shoot. They towed up on a surfboard, and then let go of the rope to catch the endless wave behind the boat.

Bud wanted to try it on his kneeboard, and talked his way into a ride. When he was done, Mike tried Bud’s El Paipo kneeboard too, getting pushed by the stern roller without the rope. The two men parted, but both were thinking about the possibilities of kneeboarding behind the boat.

A couple of months later Marine World became Marine World Africa, USA, and the new management had some bad news: all the runoff from the animals had contaminated the ski show site. Skiers could stay if they wanted, but Mike chose to head south to Los Angeles. Mike had thought a lot about his kneeboard ride on Bud’s board so when he got back to Southern California he went to Bud’s shop, and told him his ideas for a brand new product. Mike thought that the kneeboards made for surfing could find a much bigger market as a towable for water skiing. Mike wanted to take off the fin so riders could do surface turns just like trick skiers. He also wanted to add a thicker pad and strap so riders could jump the wakes. The strap would be easy because the turn handles in the El Paipo boards were already the perfect attachment point. Bud agreed, and the two men decided to create the world’s first production water ski kneeboard under the name of Knee Ski.


By late 1972, Mike had designed a board that would perform surface tricks, and still carve surf style turns. Knee Ski ran their first magazine ad in early 1973, with Mike launching over the top of the photographer by using a ski jump ramp.1 The first boards had a pintail shape and were hand shaped from foam and fiberglass.

P

Mike Murphy Flies off a Jump Ramp on a Prototype Knee Ski, 1973
Mike rejected his original pin-tail shape because it caused too much drag, and he didn’t like how the foam boards floated so much. So Mike redesigned the board and Knee Ski switched to a neutral flotation model that was made from laminated fiberglass, just like a boat hull. Each Knee Ski had a flat neoprene pad covering the entire deck, and a Velcro strap. Now riders could jump and spin in relative comfort and security.

P

Uncle Mike Jumps His Creation:

The World’s First Production Kneeboard for Water Skiing
Knee Ski was on the market, and Mike hit the road for a year to promote the new way to ride behind a boat. In 1973 the production boards were being demonstrated at Marine World.2 Knee Ski also produced a booklet titled “Our Story” with tips, tricks, and illustrations. But with all this promotion the high price, $125 in 1973, met with small success and Knee Ski faded from the picture.
VIDEO LINK: 1972 Knee Ski
In 1973 I took my first kneeboard ride on one of Mike’s Knee Skis. We were at the Marine Stadium in Long Beach, CA and I easily did a sliding start off the sandy beach. But uncle Mike expected more than just simple riding and cutting across the wakes. He wanted me to do a 360 spin. Didn’t he know I was just an eight year old having fun keeping it simple? I didn’t want to do a 360, so I got a little upset about what he was trying to make me do.

Uncle Mike made it clear that my choices were simple: make the spin or swim in!

There was a moment of indecision. I was a pretty good swimmer, but we were a long way from our camp. So I got back up on the Knee Ski, and after a few tries the 360 was mine.

Uncle Mike led the way, and I was compelled to follow. I watched what he did, and copied.

Backwards start? Check.

Backwrap 180s and overhead 360s? O.K.!

540 landings? No problem.

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