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Rampaige to Barefoot Glory

Rampaige to Barefoot Glory

At the ripe old age of four, Brendan Paige discovered waterskiing when his dad bought a boat to give his family the opportunity to spend time together outdoors. Instantly hooked, Brendan loved the continued progression of learning to ski on double skis, then quickly dropping to a single ski. Living in Cairns at the time, it was a great escape from the Northern Queensland heat. Brendan and his five siblings spent countless wonderful hours on the water, skiing, tricking and pushing each others limits.

One day, a friend of Brendan’s father joined them on the water and gave him his first insight into the world of barefoot skiing. While highly impressed, Brendan had one attempt and then did not think too much more about foot skiing for a while, preferring to hone his skills on double and single skis.

A trip to the Gold Coast’s Seaworld when he was 16 years old, however, reignited that initial fascination with barefoot skiing, as he watched a performer foot ski backwards around the lake. He knew then that this was where he wanted to make the next progression in his sport, his next thing to master. It was a turning point in his focus and he began diligently training four to six times per week after school on the river with his father.

In October of 2007, Brendan entered his first ever barefoot competition. He was psyched to compete against his mates and fellow skiers in the area as this was a local competition. He came last. Undeterred, Brendan continued to train and fine- tune his skills. Just shy of one year later, he won his first competition at a national level. The focused intention had paid off and his desire to compete at a top level burned even more strongly. Upping the training even further, Brendan used the inspiration of his first win to drive his focus and push further.

Since his first win in 2008, Brendan now holds a plethora of titles. He is the current (and seven-time) Queensland Ski Champion. In 2014, he came second in the Barefoot World Titles – Trick category. 2017 proved to be an awesome year of competition as he took out the Australian Record for Men’s Trick, ranked second in the World for Men’s Trick, and was crowned Overall Champion for US National X Games. Currently, the Australian Champion after being named the Overall Champion in the Footski Nationals earlier this year. This was a huge boost to his career and a definite highlight in achievements so far. “Trick has always been my event, so to take the title in all three is a huge accomplishment for me,” says Brendan. (Nationals consist of three events — Trick, Jump and Slalom.) Brendan’s next goal is to claim the world record for Tricks. A solid plan to take out the Bi-Annual FootSki World Titles, being held soon in Sydney, is on top of Brendan’s to-do list.

Sponsored by Rubber Jungle Wetsuits and Vessel Corp, Brendan’s professional career has taken him all over the world, competing in America, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Indonesia and of course, all over Australia. He spends much of his time competing and training overseas. “I spend most Australian winters over in the USA and this would be my favourite place to visit, especially Winter Haven, Florida. The Chain of Lakes there are amazing!”

One could easily assume that the World Champ would have a highly regimented training schedule. In Brendan’s case, that assumption is wrong. Proving that the best skier really is the one having the most fun, Brendan spends about 90% of his time simply playing on the water, practicing without the pressure of a strict schedule and keeping his love for the sport a priority. A month or so before a big event, he would take it up a few notches, filming his training sessions and critically analysing each move, each trick, each entry and exit, the timing of his tricks and the boats until he has everything dialled. He believes in a balance between work and play, and clearly this method is paying off for him. “Training is something I’m not great at. Foot skiing is a fun sport. I like to have fun on the water.”

One element that does contribute to Brendan’s success is his Australia-wide ski school, Rampaige Barefoot Coaching Clinics. While he does have a secret spot to use while he is home on the Gold Coast, his work takes him all over Australia to different bodies of water and he uses this to his advantage. Clients hire Brendan to be their skiing instructor and he would fly into wherever they are based, ski and coach in their local area, and use their boats and their crew. “I train on a different boat each week, and I also have a different driver. This makes my training more difficult resulting in better conditioning for those tournament days.”

About three years ago, while coaching in the Maroochy River, Brendan skied directly over a log, breaking his heel and putting him out of the water for six months. Always the optimist, he continued to coach everyday throughout his healing and rehab period, and used the time to really polish the technical side of his coaching – skills he was then able to put into practice in his training. Having only ever sustained one big injury, the 27-year-old is in amazing form and does not look like he will be slowing down anytime soon.

Brendan is extremely passionate about promoting the sport and helping it grow through his training and coaching camps, as well as through foot ski videos. If you follow Brendan Paige on any of the social media platforms, your feed is no doubt flooded with the amazing promotional videos and images of this talented young athlete. Brendan has an intoxicating persona, his fancy footwork almost outshone by the obvious joy that foot skiing brings him, making him a great poster boy for the sport.

Having trophies already on the shelf and many more in his sights, combined with his highly successful coaching business, Brendan Paige is a name that we can expect to be at the forefront of water-skiing in Australia and around the world for years to come. Not only is he a main player in the future of foot ski, he is literally training the future of foot ski— coaching and inspiring the youth of Australia and positively taking the sport to a whole new level. 2020 looks set to be an impressive year for this vibrant barefooter, and that is something we all are very excited to keep a close eye on!

www.vesselcorp.com

 

 

By Lowen Taylor

 

 

Published in the Jan-Mar 2020 edition.

 

 

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