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John H. (Jack) Andresen is one of those rare individuals in water skiing who might well qualify for admission in the Hall of Fame as a competitor, as an official or as a pioneer. He had been all three and has made an impact on the sport in each of them.
He won his first water ski trophy in 1936, three years before the American Water Ski Association was organized and the first formal tournament was held in the U.S. He convinced Bruce Parker who was putting on an aquaplane contest on Long Island that he should include water skiing in the competition. Photographs of Andresen's winning performance became the pattern three years later for organized water skiing's first rating system.
A trick skiing innovator, Andresen introduced 180 - and 360-degree surface and wake turns, thereby establishing the base for all modern trick runs. His banner year in competition came in 1950 when he won the National and World titles in the tricks event.
Andresen also pioneered the mixed doubles event, which at one time was included in the National championships. He and his wife were the mixed doubles champions in 1955.
Not content merely to compete, Andresen was active in organizing tournaments, improving the rules, encouraging more judges and serving AWSA as a director from 1949 to 1959 and as president in 1958-59. He wrote the first hardback book on the sport, "Skiing on Water," in 1950. It went through two more printings in 1954 and 1960.
Andresen learned to ski in 1933 at the age of 16 after he saw a newspaper picture of a French water skier jumping a wake. Using the skis in the photograph as a pattern, Andersen made a crude pair from pieces of ash, bending the tips in steam. They were eight feet ling and eight inches wide. He made a dock start on his first try behind a friend's boat at Glen Wild Lake, N.J. His signal to his driver was a loud, "Hit it!"--Said on impulse but later to become the official takeoff signal between skier and driver.
In 1939, Andresen skied in the first National Water Ski Championships at Jones Beach, Long Island, and lost to the man he had talked into putting water skiing in the aquaplane competition two years earlier, Bruce Parker.
In 1941, while on a vacation trip to Florida, Andresen chanced to stop by Cypress Gardens where he saw boxes of water skis stacked on the dock. After asking if he might try a pair of them, Andresen went through his routine under the watchful eye of Dick Pope, Sr., who talked him into staying over to help teach the first of the Cypress Gardens famed show skiers.
For the next few years, water skiing for Andresen took a back seat to his education as an electrical and chemical engineer, but in the 1950's he was the man to beat in veteran's competition, winning the national overall titles in 1954, 1956 and 1958.
Andresen was elected honorary vice president of AWSA in 1964, and he continued his interest in the sport until 1972 when he and his wife Evelyn sold their New Jersey home and moved to Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies. He is a life member of AWSA, probably the only member in the association's history to receive his life membership gratis. It came from Dan Hains, the association's founder, who took those pictures of Andresen in 1936 and used them for the first ratings in the sport. Hains didn't know until three years later that the skier was Andresen, and he was so pleased to identify his "model" that he made him a life member of his new organization on the Spot.