A teenage lifeguard has learned to walk on water by mastering the skill of water-skiing while barefoot.
Charlie Long – who trains at White Rose Water Ski Club lake off Elland Road in Brighouse – is hoping to take the national title for the water sport after his skills were spotted.
The 16-year-old has impressed GB coaches by proving his competence in all three disciplines of skiing – the trick, the jump and the slalom.
These are all accomplished solely by gliding across the water’s surface using nothing but his bare feet.
The teenager will take his ‘great feat’ to South Africa later this month, where he will compete against other talents in the European Championships.
Charlie said: “It’s hugely exhilarating and very exciting.
“It’s very similar to water-skiing, just without the skis. It’s quite a rare sport.
“You go at speeds of around 45mph and then you straighten up your feet. At this speed the water feels like it turns to concrete and that’s how it feels like you’re really walking on it.
“You’ve got to have confidence and it becomes more critical to get your balance and core strength right – they are the most important things.”
Charlie’s talents were noticed while he was ‘messing around with friends’, and he was invited for a trial for the junior British Barefoot Water-Skiing team.
Following a successful trial he was selected for the team along with two other junior skiers and is looking forward to competing against thousands of other elite skiers from Europe and Africa for his place in the world rankings.
Charlie said: “I first got into the sport through my uncle.
“He used to bring me mono-skiing and wakeboarding and that is where I learned the basics of muscle memory and what it takes to stay upright on water.
“I got into this just over a year ago after trying it out for a laugh with some mates.”
Barefoot is skiing behind a motorboat, at speeds of up to 45 mph, without the use of water skis.
It was one of the first forms of water-skiing sports, and is one of the most popular with spectators.
Charlie added: “When you see someone doing a jump of two storeys high it can be a bit surreal, like watching them defy the laws of physics.”