At the age of 25, Delaware’s Ray McCurry tried his luck at water-skiing for the first time. Little did he know at the time that some 55 years later, he would still be skiing at the age of 80, nor did he know the sport would become a family affair over several generations.
“I have four children — all adults with the oldest being 60 — that water ski,” McCurry said. “All the grandkids and great-grandkids are all excellent water-skiers.”
McCurry said his love for water-skiing began at the age of 25 when he and his father met up with one of his father’s friends who owned a boat. He said his father began water-skiing in the 1950s and never looked back.
“I use to brag about him still water-skiing at 75,” McCurry said. “And now, here I am at 80.”
McCurry said that water-skiing wasn’t very popular before the 1950s when his father started.
“Back then, they didn’t have boats that could pull a water-skier,” he said. “They used 25-horsepower motors. You need a 100-horsepower motor to pull a person out of the water.”
McCurry added he and his family have vacationed and water-skied in Apple Valley, Mount Vernon, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and a few other places in the United States.
“It’s about family,” said Kathleen Bensi, McCurry’s daughter and avid water-skier. “We were always (on) a boat or driving in a car going on vacation.”
The family tradition continues to this day. McCurry said they’re getting ready to go out to Arkansas where his son has a lake house to go water-skiing.
In Florida, McCurry said he used to ski on the marshes, he just had to watch out for snakes and alligators. He said he joined a water-skiing club at a senior resort in Florida, and one day, he asked if there were any alligators in the lake.
“One of the guys said, ‘You don’t need to worry because they are more afraid of you than you are of them,’” he said.
McCurry said he and his family used to ski on the Scioto River until Alum Creek was built.
“We watched them dig out and fill Alum Creek,” he said. “We didn’t know just how dirty the Scioto River was until we started skiing on Alum Creek.”
When McCurry is on the lake water-skiing, he uses only one ski.
“It’s a 1950 slalom wood ski,” he said. “Some people use them as a wall decoration, but it was the hardest thing I ever learned to do. Getting up on one ski.”
McCurry said that he still plays golf and pickleball, and he still snows skis and rides a motorcycle.
“I just can’t sit around,” he said.
But, when it comes to his passion, McCurry said it is water-skiing.
“I just love being out there on that ski,” he said. “Every year I wonder if I’ll be able to do it the next year.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.