The foundations for the British Disabled Waterski & Wakeboard Association (BDWWA) were laid in on 1st July 1978 by David Nations and Tony Edge at Ruislip and Princes Water Ski clubs. At the time barefoot training booms were in use by amputee and blind skiers. Tony Edge, who lost a leg in a flying accident during World War II, spent years learning to mono ski without a prosthesis. Convinced there were quicker ways to learn he produced a constitution and initiated the registration of BDWWA as a charity.
Technical development of assistive aids was a priority. An early success was Tony Edge’s “Triple Bar”. This innovative design reduced the teaching time for physically disabled people to learn how to stand up. The “Edge Triple Bar” has been used all over the world. Another successful development was the “Delger Sling” named after the designer Ray Delger for assisting single handed skiers. The sling was refined for tournament use by Mark Addicott.
In the early years, most skiing was done by blind and amputee members. This has radically changed, with seated skiers being the majority. The first seated skis were “Sitzskis” made by Frank Jespers in his furniture factory in Belgium. Subsequently, fibreglass surf canoes and specialist skis have been used. Early tournament “KanSkis” were imported from America but Scottish development engineer Nick Mathews produced tournament skis in Britain.
The priority of the BDWWA remains to teach disabled beginners to water ski but also supports those skiers who compete both Nationally and Internationally. There have now been 19 British National Disabled Water Ski Championships, mostly at Heron Lake but also in the regions at Ivy lake in Hampshire, Town Loch, the Scottish National Centre, and Whitworth near Rochdale in the North West.
The foundation for world competition was laid at Heron Lake in 1987 with the first World Trophy for the disabled.
Only a few of the numerous people involved in the BDWWA have been mentioned here but the success of the BDWWA today is due to the collaborative efforts of all those involved over the years and needs your support to help us to continue moving forwards.