And Everything's Free!

The Patricia Neal Innovative Recreation (IRC) adaptive water ski program gives people with special challenges the experience of water skiing. The pictures below show how it's done. The adaptive equipment might be a little bit unfamiliar looking but the fun is just the same as regular water skiing. Getting dumped by big boat wakes is just as easy too.

Everybody's Different

The water ski clinic starts around 9:00am and goes to 4:30pm. Everyone gathers together at the start and are given some basic rules. Safety First! Everyone, including helpers wears a personal floatation device or pfd.

Ski Modifications

The equipment for para and quadriplegics is slightly different than a regular slalom ski. Here you see a "beginner" ski with two outrigger skis attached to help stabilize the skier. It also has a back support that keeps an individual from falling backwards. Quads and paraplegics sit in a padded webbing and aluminum frame seat which fits snugly. It sort of hugs the skier who can get out of the seat if necessary. The skier's feet both go into the rubber boot at the front of the ski. The seat itself can be moved forward or backward as needed, and bigger or smaller seats are used for different sized people. The tow rope comes back from the tow boat through a slot in the front of the ski and through a block of wood attached to the ski. A plastic ball is attached to the tow rope about a foot in front of the tow rope handle. The ball is placed behind the block of wood. The rope will pull the ball against the block of wood and that pulls the ski. The skier's hands will be free to hold onto the front of the seat. The skier can then concentrate on his/her balance. Once launched the skier can pick up the tow rope handle from between his legs and yank the plastic ball out from behind the wood block. The skier then has complete control of the tow rope.

The Water WheelChair

The skier transfers from their own wheelchair into a water wheelchair. The aluminum frame water wheelchair has buoyant rubber wheels.

Transferring to the water wheelchair

Here, Matt Porterfield has transferred from his own wheelchair to the water wheelchair.

Heading for the water

The skier is then rolled down to the water on a ramp into the water. Sometimes the skier might instead enter the water from a dock.

Rolling into the Water

The wheelchair floats once it is in the water. The skier can exit the chair either by rolling over sideways or having the helpers push the chair down and out from under him.

Floating Wheelchair

After leaving the water wheelchair the skier squirms around and into the ski-seat which the helpers partially submerge. They keep the ski upright and help the skier put his feet into the ski boot. Advanced skiers just hold onto the tow rope without it being secured to the ski.

In Gear - Hit it!

The skier is ready to go. The slack is taken out of the tow rope, the skier tells the tow boat driver to put the motor "In Gear" and when ready the skier says "Hit it!" Some people just pop right out of the water.

Submarining vs water skiing

Others prefer to pretend they're submarines - for a very short time.

Hotdogs, Hamburgers, Pizza anyone?

All that skiing makes you hungry. For that matter, even those who elect not to ski get hungry too. There's all sorts of good picnic food available like hamburgers, hotdogs and even pizza. Here you can see the large number of people that have turned out for the affair. They're boat drivers, ski helpers, mothers, children, skiers, or just people who wanted to watch the fun. The program helps me a great deal because I am sometimes lazy. Participating in these events helps keep me active.


Speaking of active - here's a photo of Matthew Porterfield actively water skiing. The picture really gives a good idea of the equipment involved and the extent to which you can still be active.

Waterski 360

Matthew is executing a 360 here. Many limits are just the ones we place on ourselves.

Outside the wake

The water is smooth here, so it is easy to stretch well beyond the boat's wake.

If you ride on the side of the boat's wake it takes some of the pressure off of your hands. It gives you a nice break from the heavy pull of the rope.

Smashing through someone else's wake.

As you can tell by Dennis' expression, he's holding on for dear life here. He's smashing through another boat's large wake and it is giving him a rodeo ride!