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National Water Ski Racing Association

History and Description

Water ski athletes who feel the need for speed participate in water ski racing competitions. The roots of ski racing are planted firmly in California and Arizona. Although most participants compete at speeds between 35 and 70 miles per hour, elite athletes compete at extreme speeds of up to 100 miles per hour!

Ski racing athletes compete in two types of races. In a marathon race, athletes travel from point A to B in an all-out dash for the finish line. Circle races are timed events in an oval course. Protective headgear and flotation devices are worn by athletes, drivers and observers. Competitors also wear neck braces and other protective survival gear to soften the blow of becoming a human crash-test dummy when falling at such high speeds. 

The National Water Ski Racing Association (NWSRA) was formed 41 years ago in Southern California when a handful of water skiing daredevils got together and began water ski racing events. The organization joined USA Water Ski as a sport division in 1991 and now has more than 600 members.

In the late 1940s, several water ski and boat clubs in Southern California, bored with competing against each other, began challenging other clubs to friendly water ski and boat races. Today, the inter-club rivalry has evolved to include competitive events between participants from Oregon to the Mexican border, as well as in the states of Nevada and Arizona.

The International Water Ski Federation (world governing body) sanctioned the first Water Ski Racing World Championships in 1979. The Worlds have been held every two years since.