Barefooters have always been known as…well, the crazy and extreme renegades of the water sports world. If you’re a hardcore footer, we don’t mean that to offend, but rather to give props to those willing to do just about anything behind a boat at top speeds. For that reason mostly, however, barefooting’s less-than-sensible rep has provoked a bit of an exodus from the sport recently. In seeing this, Barefootcentral.com’s Chuck Gleason, along with Eagle Sports, enlisted the help of some phenomenal young footers to promote the sport and boost traffic on BFC. The team includes Andre De Villiers (otherwise known as the Godfather of freestyle barefooting), Heinrich Sam, Chris Morrison, Nolan Lough, Zane De Villiers, as well as veteran skiers like Ron Scarpa, Paul Macdonald, Peter Fleck, Willie Farrell and Scott Pellaton. Together, they came up with the new competitive format they call the Freestyle Barefoot Challenge.
Gleason explains that the FBC takes barefooting back to its roots, when skiers like Scarpa, Rick Powell and Mike Siepel were inventing new moves regularly as they learned the sport. As a contest that challenges footers to think outside the box, and more importantly, have the video camera rolling at all times, footing contenders would upload a video every two months to be rated by a panel of judges and votes by public online viewers. Ski, create, capture and post to win anywhere from $500 to $1,000 every round.
After it’s first go throughout 2009, the moves that came out of the FBC were pretty insane. Andre De Villiers invented over 20 new moves just himself. The most popular, the Air De Villiers, is a fairly simple concept. To complete the move, he set up on the boom with a handle in one hand, and a second one coming from the Super Fly Tower. Swing out to grab the second handle, let go of the boom handle, and jump inverted over the transom of the boat.
Barefooting legend Scarpa was so motivated by Andre’s freestyle invention initiative, that he learned some of the moves himself and invited De Villiers to coach at Scarpa Water Sports starting in spring 2010.