Fleck edges Blair by 1 point to win Barefoot Challenge
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Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014

Fleck edges Blair by 1 point to win Barefoot Challenge

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/09/12/50/gRAQ2.Em.138.jpeg|211
    Adam Coker - COURTESY OF ADAM COKER
    John Ketner, left, captain of the U-20 “Work Release,” and tactician John Park, right, hold the Ice Bucket Keelboat Trophy after winning the spinnaker class race at the annual Ice Bucket Regatta, held Jan. 4 on Lake Norman.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/09/12/50/C5tEc.Em.138.jpeg|209
    - COURTESY OF ALLISON BLAIR
    Peter Fleck, of Windermere, Fla., throws up a spray of water as he makes his run during the open division competition at the 35th-annual Lake Norman New Year's Day Barefoot Challenge. Fleck, a former national barefoot skiing champion, edged Jeff Blair of Mooresville by one point to win the title.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/09/12/50/3WbJB.Em.138.jpeg|280
    Adam Coker - COURTESY OF ADAM COKER
    Sailboats unfurl their spinnakers to catch the wind on the downwind leg of the annual Ice Bucket Regatta, held Jan. 4 on Lake Norman.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/09/12/50/1tiZuS.Em.138.jpeg|171
    - COURTESY OF ALLISON BLAIR
    Peter Fleck, of Windermere, Fla., is towed by a ski boat as he makes his run during the open division competition at the 35th-annual Lake Norman New Year’s Day Barefoot Challenge. Fleck, a former national barefoot skiing champion, edged Jeff Blair of Mooresville by one point to win the title.

A champion water skier edged out the event record-holder and defending champ to win the main event at the annual Lake Norman New Year’s Day Barefoot Challenge.

Peter Fleck, 50, of Windermere, Fla., beat out five-time winner Jeff Blair of Mooresville by one point (793-792) to win the open division title in his first try at the 35th-annual event, held at Lake Norman Marina in Sherrills Ford.

“I’ve considered making the trip up to enter the Lake Norman tournament a number of times in the past,” Fleck said in a prepared release. “But this year, combining it with a snow ski trip to Beech Mountain with my daughter’s church youth group make the trip work.

“The event was a lot of fun, and it was great to connect with many old friends in the sport.”

Fleck is a seven-time winner of the national Figure 8 endurance title, including the 2013 championship. He also competed for the U.S. Barefoot Team in the world championships five times between 1988 and 1998, then ended a 13-year hiatus to join the team for a sixth time when it travels to Australia in March for the 2014 world championships.

Scoring in the Lake Norman Barefoot Challenge comes from a combination of time a skier stays on his feet and points scored from their starting method and tricks performed while on the water.

Fleck had the longer time on his feet, 293 seconds, to 127 for Blair. But Blair nearly made up for that from points scored off tricks – 665 to 500 – falling just one point short. Travis Shulenburger of Salisbury finished third with 389 points.

“Competing with Peter Fleck was great,” said Blair, who holds the tournament scoring record of 816 points, set in 2011. “I actually went to Peter’s ski school when I was a little kid, so competing against him was kinda cool. He is a great guy, and I hope he will come back up again.”

The father-and-son team of Todd and Eli Wulfhorst, both of Denver, also won titles at this year’s Barefoot Challenge. Todd won the men’s division title by 60 points over Danny Richardson Jr. of Kernersville (165-105), while 10-year-old Eli won the juniors division title over brothers Will and Wesley Blair, both of Mooresville.

Ice Bucket Regatta

Lake Norman Yacht Club members John Ketner and Steve Hesler came away with the trophies during the 28th-annual Ice Bucket Regatta, held Jan. 4 on Lake Norman.

Ketner, captain of his U-20 “Work Release,” won the Ice Bucket Keelboat Trophy after taking the spinnaker class race over fellow Yacht Club member Al Cleeland in “Aba Babba.” Chuck Lineberry, in “Pearl of Great Price,” finished third.

Hesler won the Ice Bucket Dinghy Trophy by winning the Highlander division race, beating out another Yacht Club member, Kirk Shultz.

Other division winners were Richard Blocker in the non-spinnakers and Gerald Kinney in the Ensigns.

Blocker, a member of the Peninsula Yacht Club, drove his boat “Simple Pleasures” to a race win over Yacht Club member Richard Hattaway in the non-spinnaker division.

Kinney, a member of the Catawba Yacht Club, won the Ensign division title over Lake Norman Yacht Club member Robert Fields in “Loose Ends.”

Upcoming events

The 2014 Icicle Series sailboat races will kick off with two races on Jan. 18. Other races have been scheduled for Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, with March 1 set as a makeup date. www.lnkc.com.

The Lake Norman Sail and Power Squadron will hold its annual “change of watch” ceremony and dinner on Jan. 18 at the NorthStone Country Club, 15801 Northstone Drive in Huntersville. The change of watch ceremony will formally induct the group’s officers for 2014. For information, call 704-948-0519.

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

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