What do you get when you combine a lake, a boat, and cute guys and girls in bathing suits? No, it’s not the latest setup for a porn movie, it’s just another day in the life of a member of the UCSB water-ski club team.
Although most people might see this lifestyle as nothing more than having fun all day, the Gauchos are serious about what they do. The squad competes in tournaments throughout the fall and spring all over California but still make sure to have a good time.
“We really try to stress having fun,” senior president Mike Buckle said. “We emphasize that people can practice as much or as little as they want, as long as they are still having fun.”
Santa Barbara must travel every weekend to Lake Nacimiento for practices because the team is not allowed to practice on the lagoon or any other body of water close to the university. The team practices on Saturdays and Sundays at Nacimiento, and at Ironwood Lake on Fridays in order to accommodate the growing number of athletes on the team. At Ironwood, UCSB practices with UCLA, allowing the Bruins to use the Gauchos’ ski boat in exchange for practicing on an actual tournament lake.
It does seem ironic that the Gauchos’ biggest rival and closest competition is also their practicing partner. However, the advantages of skiing on a lake with a ski ramp and extremely calm water far outweigh the disadvantages of revealing UCSB’s secrets to the other team.
This past weekend, the Gauchos performed exceptionally well at a tournament held at Mission Bay in San Diego against some very stiff competition. Buckle’s win in the wakeboarding division helped propel UCSB to a fifth-place finish out of 16 teams.
“We might not be the best team out there,” junior treasurer Stephen Deem said. “But we are always pretty consistent throughout the year. So far this year, the team has been pretty solid at our tournaments.”
This year, Santa Barbara sports a much larger squad than in recent seasons, almost doubling the amount of skiers to around 45. The men and women compete separately at tournaments in three different categories: slalom, wakeboarding and ski jumping.
With the growth of wakeboarding over the past few years, about half of the team competes in this category, giving the team a considerable advantage.
The number of inexperienced skiers on the team, however, causes problems at times because of their lack of tournament experience. UCSB has worked hard to overcome these challenges and has improved since its last showing on Oct. 4-5, when it placed ninth out of 16 at the Regional Qualifiers at Ironwood Lake.
“We really have a strong guys’ team, and our women are really improving and trying hard,” Deem said. “Most of the women are new members to the team, so they don’t have the experience that a lot of our top men have yet. However, they are proving that they are going to be awesome in the spring.”
Sophomore Shauna Shipley and freshman April Leonard are just two athletes that will be called upon to propel the women’s squad.
“Our team really has the athletic potential to be an excellent team this year,” junior vice president Matt Bettencourt said. “Our skiers are good enough. We just need a lot of practice to really excel. Some of us have an issue with choking at tournaments. We are really going to try to work on that this winter by just getting in a lot more practice before the spring tournaments start.”
With a brand-new 2002 Ski Nautique boat, the Gauchos hope to gain the upper hand and show those other schools what they are made of.
For more information about the UCSB water-ski cub team, please email .
UPCOMING EVENTS FOR CLUB SPORTS:
Cycling – Nov. 9-10 @ Cal Poly Pomona
Field Hockey – Nov. 9-10 @ Harder Stadium for the UCSB Tournament, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse – Nov. 9-10 @ Rob Field for the Alumni Game, 4 p.m.
Sailing – Nov. 8-10 @ the University of Texas-Houston for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Single-Handed Nationals
Roller Hockey – Nov. 9 @ Huntington Beach, Calif. for the second Collegiate Roller Hockey League Tournament
Rowing – Nov. 10 @ Mission Bay, Calif. for the San Diego Fall Classic
Men’s Rugby – Nov. 9-10 @ Palo Alto, Calif. for the Stanford Tournament