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What's the hardest thing about waterskiing? Finding some sloping water to practice on! Ah, the old ones are the best! But seriously, Malta boasts warm, calm, crystal clear seas, baking hot sun and plenty of powerboats! Could it be any more perfect for waterskiing?
Waterskiing is a great hobby. It’s fairly easy to master the basics and utterly exhilarating when you’re skimming across the surface of the sea, leaving a foaming white wake. It’s often high up on many people’s list of things they’d like to try. So if you have always fancied having a go but never got around to trying it yet, then there are few places better suited for learning than this beautiful island.
Sea temperatures are relatively warm all year round so you can have a go at any time of year. You’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to finding someone to teach you. Many seafront hotels, lidos and beach clubs offer lessons or sessions, especially in the summer months, making it very accessible.
People have been skiing on water for as long as there have been boats that can go fast enough to pull them and keep them above water. Specifically, it all began in 1922, when a free-thinking American teenager called Ralph Samuelson thought that if he could ski on snow then he could probably do the same on water. All he needed was a boat with the speed to keep him upright.
The proof of his theory would, however, be in the execution. So Ralph lashed a barrel stave to each foot, tied his mum’s clothesline on the back of his motorboat, put his brother Ben behind the wheel and they set off on Lake Pepin, in Lake City, Minnesota.
The results were initially, well … mixed, or sould we say wet! But 18-year-old Ralph was not about to give in. He persevered switching the staves for snow skis and then built some wider bespoke water skis. And …. Boom! Ralph had created a global past-time!
The sport was little more than a carnival sideshow activity for several years, with Ralph as the 'crazy man who skied on water', much like a human cannonball or other daredevil act. He toured the country with his ‘stunts’ taking the show to venues across the States from Detroit to Florida.
Though various people subsequently claimed they had invented the activity first, the American Water Ski Association formally acknowledged Ralph as the founder of their sport in 1966.
Waterskiing in Malta cannot claim a heritage that stretches across nine decades but its popularity certainly bloomed through the 1960s once air travel and tourism had properly kicked in. It has since continued to grow and you’ll see people churning along almost everywhere on the island.
Tourists these days find it very easy to find someone willing to hire them a pair of skis, take them out and teach them. Most watersports centres offer it as an option and It’s relatively cheap too with a half-hour session including all equipment and tuition costing typically between €40 and €50.
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