The World Record Story

Most water skiers to be towed behind a boat all at once

The World Record Story – by: David Bennett (organiser & participant) – Horsehead Water Ski Club, Devonport Tasmania.


Most water skiers to be towed behind a boat all at once

The World Record Story – by: David Bennett (organiser & participant) – Horsehead Water Ski Club, Devonport Tasmania.

Water skiing is a great family sport and I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved most of my life. In 1969 at the age of 12, I joined the Horsehead Water Ski Club which is located close to my hometown in Devonport Tasmania. Horsehead is the oldest ‘continuously operating’ water ski club in the country – ‘since 1958’ – and it’s where I like to spend most of my free time, in-fact my whole family is involved in the club.

So It’s safe to say, “I’ve been water skiing for a long time. I’ve taught just on a thousand people to water ski” … so I’m starting to get the hang of it.

In 1983 someone gave me a photo of the world record of 53 skiers behind one boat.

In 1988 a group of us ski club members were skiing at Strahan when this big fast ferry came past us. We all immediately wondered whether we could use that boat to set a world record. We took photos of the back of the boat so we could work out how to attach a boom, but we couldn’t get assistance from the boat designers in Perth WA and the idea went on hold. (Strahan is a small fishing village on the wild west coast of Tassie).

In 2006 I was at Strahan again and met Guy Grining, one of the owners of World Heritage Cruises and shared my dream with him. (I’d also been speaking to a couple of pilots who flew the float planes but they wouldn’t have a bar of it, nor would the helicopter guy)!

I asked: “So if I bring a bucket full of people down here, you’ll tow them with your boat?” The answer was “Yes”. He gave me his business card which I kept in my wallet for years (I still have the beat up old card).

Our ski club took up the challenge and we formed a small committee which started to gather expertise, enthusiasm (and eventually some sponsorship). Skiers joined us from all over Tasmania. One even flew home from the UK.

Our initial budget was $5000.

The committee eventually ended up spending over $100,000 in cash (excluding all the time and materials which were donated).

The record stood at 100 for 23 years and withstood 5 attempts from all round the world.

Tasmania’s attempts were as follows:

#1 Jan 2008 121 skiers started and the laminated timber boom broke. A new boom was constructed overnight from gas pipeline

#2 Jan 2008 121 skiers started in very rough water and the new gas pipeline boom broke.

#3 Jan 2009 121 skiers (with a new aluminium boom on floats) – rope problems prevented a start.

#4 Jan 2009 121 skiers. Broken tow rope lead to boom failure.

#5 Jan 2010 121 skiers. $70,000 boom. 85 crossed the finish line.

#6 Jan 2010 121 skiers. 99 finished (1 short of the record).

#7 March 2010 121 skiers. 95 finished.

#8 March 2010 121 skiers. 114 A new world record!

#9 Jan 2012 154 skiers. New props fitted. 108 finished.

#10 Jan 2012 154 skiers. 145 crossed the finish line.

Those who crossed the finish line included me, my wife and my 3 kids. It was a great feeling to finally achieve my dream (with my family in tow)!

The news went all around the world from Time Square in New York to the news in Arabia, across to Germany, it was published in magazines in France and made the headlines in Japan. We graced the covers of magazines and newspapers around the world and people called us from all over the Globe.

Having achieved Gold, Silver and Bronze (the 3 biggest pulls in history), the Tasmanian team has retired.

Satisfied with the world record accomplishment, I now spend my weekends at the club with my Gilflite Shortline 190. Still the best hull I’ve had the pleasure to own and ski behind.

David Bennett