Debelak Repeats as Champ as Endurance Records Fall at Unforgettable Footstock
Crandon, Wisconsin – It was a championship that few people who attended Footstock will soon forget. Not only did Jon DeBelak defend his title as the National Open Figure Eight Endurance Champ but he did it in record-smashing fashion. As Debelak and runner-up Marc Donahue (Indiana) obliterated the all-time figure eight record, completing an unheard of 13-3/4 figure eights on the little over a mile course on lake Peshtigo.
According to boat driver James Weber, the record setting run almost didn’t happen.
“Just before we left the dock, we called to be re-fueled after the Debelak run.” explained Weber. “We thought we had enough for a normal long run, but when they got up to 10 laps we knew we were in trouble because the gas gauge was on E. We got lucky they didn’t go further, because had we run out of gas it would’ve been a re-run.”
Thankfully the run stood and may stand forever as the world’s record figure eight run.
But it wasn’t just the big guns that were setting record. Multiple eights were completed on seemingly every run in every division, including juniors, womens, seniors and masters.
“We knew we were in for a long weekend, when 3 of the first 5 runs on Saturday morning were figure eights and multiple figure eights,” explained Tournament Gas Manager Bucky Dailey. “We usually don’t see our first figure eight until late Saturday afternoon. We went through a record amount of gas on the first day. And over 350 miles driven Saturday alone.”
Tournament Director Jim Wienser had an explanation for the sudden explosion in record-breaking runs.
“Weeds. The weeds are the worst they’ve ever been on Peshtigo with all the heat we’ve had this summer, explained Wienser. “So once we chopped up a course, the weeds piled up knocking down the cross rollers created by the boats. So instead of hitting giant waves every half mile on the straight-aways, these guys were skiing through ordinary boat waves which is easy for them. Hence the monster runs.”
Tournament officials thought they had seen everything on Saturday as Marc Donahue and Jon DeBelak broke the world figure eight record, completing an astonishing 6-1/4 eights beating old record of 5-1/4 eights, held by Marc Donahue and Peter Fleck that stood for over a decade. The record run gave Marc Donahue another Senior National Championship. But by the time Sunday rolled around they knew that the new record was in danger with consistent runs of 4 and 5 eights to start the morning.
Third place finisher Paul Stokes, who finished second last year, and is still searching for his first Open Championship, summed it up best.
These two guys (referring to Debelak and Donahue) are just at a whole different level,” said Stokes. “If you would’ve told me I was going to ski back to back runs of 4-1/2 and then 5 eights and lose both runs, I would’ve never believed it.
In all, over 152 barefooters competed in the grueling, two-day championship in which over 350 runs were pulled. And over $,6000 in prize money was handed out to the winners. Marc Donahue alone skied over 40 figure eights over the two days.
On the women’s side of the Championship, Sophie Miljevic continued her dominance over the field besting her sister Ella Miljevic in a championship re-run after Ella beat her sister in the longest run in women’s history.
In the Master’s Division, Canada’s Wayne King outlasted Mike Netzer (Wisconsin) to win his fourth Master’s National title.
While in the Junior division, 13-year old Noah Kinnamn from Missouri dominated the field, beating Owen Schattschneider (Wisconsin) after 2-2/1 eights for his first National Title.