9: MAIL IT IN
The water ski magazines were fueling the growth of the sport. In 1982 Spray ran the first kneeboarding feature story, with action shots by Terry Dorner. It was the first time real kneeboarders were pictured, even though their names were left out. The following year World Water Skiing did a makeover, and instruction became a big part of the new format. Kneeboarding became a frequent flyer in both magazines. Now kneeboarding enthusiasts all across the country could count on step-by-step instruction with tricks beyond the basics.
Kneeboarding Made a Splash with It’s First Feature Pictorial, 1982
Lessons Became a Regular Feature in the Magazines, Fueling Growth. 1983
The magazines proclaimed kneeboarding “an overnight success” in 1984, and Ted Bevelacqua was the first rider primarily known as a kneeboarder to make a cover. That same year Paul Roberts from Jupiter, FL became the first person to be documented landing a backside roll off the wake.[i] The two-page feature showed a sequence of the trick, and the flip genie was out of the bottle. I saw Paul’s groundbreaking sequence in the magazine, and immediately tried it. I was working at the Magic Mountain Ski Show at the time, and the next day it took me 12 tries to land one. In 1985 the two magazines merged and Water Ski was the lone survivor. By this time a handful of top riders were starting to be recognized as kneeboarders.
Ted Bevelacqua Helped Announce Kneeboarding as an “Overnight Success”. (Snow, 1984)
Paul Roberts was the First Rider Documented to Ride Away From an Invert. This Move Opened the Flipping Floodgate. (King, 1984)
It wasn’t just the editorial coverage that was fueling the fire in the early and mid 1980s. Several manufacturers were designing new boards and promoting them with scores of full-page advertisements.
The Ad Blitz was On, Beginning in the 1980s
Hydroslide continued their innovative marketing with a series of “Hydroslide Profiles” that featured everyday riders and their behind the boat stories of kneeboarding.
The Hydroslide “Profile” Series Gave Insight Into Riders’ Minds, 1982
Kneeboards were white hot, and the retailers wanted to cash in. Mail order catalogs like Bart’s and Overton’s got on the kneeboard bandwagon early, and rode it out for years. Everyone had at least a name mention. Some even included photos in their ads on the covers of their catalogs. In 1983 Overton’s went so far as to create the cartoon character Natalie Kneeboard to promote the three major boards of the day.
Images (used with permission)
“Adventures in Water Skiing: Part 2, Kneeboarding,” photo Rick Doyle, 1994.
“Kneeboard Action” photo Terrence Dorner, Spray’s WaterSki, June, 1982, 53.
“Kneeboard Lessons,” Spray’s WaterSki, July, 1983, 53.
“World WaterSkiing – Bevelacqua,” photo Terry Snow, June, 1984, Cover.
“Etc. The Impossible Flip – Paul Roberts,” photos Tom King, World WaterSkiing, June, 1984, 100-101.
“Ad Blitz,” Spray, May, 1980. Pam Folsom, 20. Mark Crone, photo Jim Coons, 92.
“Hydroslide Profile – Mark Evans,” World WaterSkiing, May, 1982, 85.
“Overton’s Ad – Natalie Kneeboard,” Spray’s WaterSki, April, 1983, 1.
[i] “Etc. The Impossible Flip” World Water Skiing, June, 1984, 100.
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