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The Man Who Invented Waterskiing

One hundred years ago (1922), a Minnesota man named Ralph Samuelson went to a local lumberyard. Most people would have said that Samuelson found two ordinary eight-foot-long pine boards. But Samuelson had a more creative idea. He saw two water skis. Here’s the backstory on his invention of waterskiing.

Samuelson lived in Minnesota and wondered if you could ski on water the way you could on snow. At 18, he made his own skis and had his brother pull him behind his boat. He unsuccessfully tried snow skis and barrel staves before realizing that he needed something that covered more surface area on the water. That’s when Samuelson spotted two eight-foot-long, nine-inch-wide pine boards.

Using his mother’s wash boiler, he softened one end of each board, then clamped the tips with vises so they would curve upwards. He affixed leather straps to hold his feet in place and acquired 100 feet of window sash cord to use as a tow rope. Finally, he hired a blacksmith to make a small iron ring to serve as the rope’s handle.

Samuelson tried several different approaches. In most of his attempts, he started with his skis level with or below the water line; but by the time his brother got the boat going, Samuelson was sinking.

Finally, he tried raising the tips of the skis out of the water while he leaned back—and it worked. As his brother steered the boat, Samuelson cruised along behind him. To this day, this is still the position that water skiers assume. Samuelson began performing tricks on his skis and crowds as large as 1,000 came out to watch him.

Possible Preaching Angles:

1) Creativity; Persistence; Vision – Those who are truly successful often start with a dream and persist despite setbacks. Just because it has never been tried before, doesn’t mean it can’t work. 2) Skill; Spiritual Gifts; Talent – God gives different gifts to his people to use for the common good. Don’t neglect your gift, but use it to glorify God and to serve his people.

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