Piloting jet skis and throwing flying discs, widely known as “Frisbees,” are two popular pastimes. Thanks to a local family and some friends, though, people may start to enjoy both hobbies at the same time.
Piloting jet skis and throwing flying discs, widely known as “Frisbees,” are two popular pastimes.
Thanks to a local family and some friends, though, people may start to enjoy both hobbies at the same time.
Brothers Paul and Michael Peoples, along with friend Dr. Scott Long, have developed a sport called “SkiFetch,” which they call the “ultimate” water sport. The slogan is a take-off on the sport known as “Ultimate,” which is similar to football but played with flying discs.
SkiFetch, though, brings some of those skills to watercraft, and according to the Peoples, is unlike anything else they – or anybody spectating the sport – have seen.
“We’ve seen people throw from piers to jet skis, from bridges to jet skis, from shore to jet skis, but never anything from ski to ski,” Paul said.
The game has developed over the past decade. About 10 years ago, Paul Peoples and Long were throwing a disc near a river, and a throw sailed wide, landing in the body of water.
Long hopped on his jet ski to retrieve the errant pass, and instead of returning to shore to throw again, tossed the disc back to Paul from the watercraft.
From there, Paul joined him in the water on his own jet ski, and the two played catch with the disc. They did this for several years, adding a few tricks along the way.
The sport did not grow much past the friends until Michael witnessed Paul and Long playing in March 2009. Michael then had a brilliant idea – try to formulate an actual sport.
“It was like a light bulb went on. I thought too many people would enjoy it,” he said.
So the trio set out to make SkiFetch into a competitive event. While the basics involve just tossing a disc from ski to ski, Paul said they have found ways to make the concept a competitive event.
Paul said two basic ways to compete in SkiFetch exist: timed races and consecutive throws completed. In timed races, teams of two will try to complete a 500-yard course while making throws as fast as possible.
Right now, Paul said the fastest any team in his group has completed a course is 56 seconds. Dropping the discs usually slows times, he added.
In a consecutive throws contest, Paul said a two-man team will try to complete as many throws without a drop as possible, passing each other in a “leapfrog effort.” Paul and Michael have completed 67 throws in a row, covering a distance of about 22 miles, for their best performance.
Developing the sport has come with a bit of trial and error. Paul said the trio tried using normal discs in the beginning, but often they cracked if they hit the front of the jet skis.
That is why the group uses “Ultimate” 175-gram discs, and often they are orange, the most visible color, Paul said.
Over time, the Peoples and Long have gotten increasingly faster with their throws and speeds – usually traveling about 30 miles per hour in a trip. They often use Omussee Creek for the sport but have played on many bodies of water, such as Florala’s Lake Jackson, Lake Eufaula and Compass Lake in Northwest Florida.
At those speeds, some dangers do exist, but the Peoples stress safety in the sport. Participants must always pass the thrower on the right side, and the group surveys any new bodies of water for depth and any obstacles, the Peoples said.
The group also halts for any boating traffic that may be passing through.
In 800-plus hours of playing since March 2009, jammed fingers and a bump on the head are the extent of injuries anyone has suffered, Paul said.
Of course, Paul added there are usually tremendous muscle pains after spending five to six hours riding jet skis in a given day. He said the sport does strengthen muscles, and he has lost 10 pounds over the past two years playing.
Since starting the sport, the Peoples say the number of participants has grown to about a dozen, and people ask them about the sport each time they play.
Still, one overarching goal exists.
“Eventually, we want it to make it a competitive sport,” Michael said.
For more on the sport, visit www.skifetch.com.