Andre Coutau, of Switzerland, could rightly be called the father of international water skiing. He was one of the founders of the first world group, the International Water Ski Union, established at a meeting in Geneva in 1946, and he led the organization through the turmoil of the early days and into the stability that now characterizes the 40-nation federation that governs the international sport.
Coutau, then a young Swiss engineer, first observed water skiing at the Chicago Century of Progress in 1932, and he returned home with an inboard runabout and a pair of water skis, thus introducing the sport to central Europe.
His enthusiasm carried over into a desire to organize the sport nationally and internationally. He succeeded in both goals with the formation of the Swiss Water Ski Federation and the IWSU.
In the early 1950's when several Western Hemisphere nations, including the U.S., split with the IWSU and formed the World Water Ski Federation, Coutau worked tirelessly to effect a settlement of the differences, finally succeeding in April of 1955 with the formation of the World Water Ski Union which he served as secretary-general and later as president. (The WWSU was renamed the International Water Ski Federation, effective in January 1988).
Coutau was in the forefront of the campaign to attain Olympic recognition for organized water skiing. His effort finally succeeded when the International Olympic Committee voted to recognize the WWSU at a meeting in Teheran in 1967 and admit water skiing as a non-participating sport. This action resulted in water skiing being in the Munich Games of 1972 as an exhibition sport.
Coutau served as a member of the world Technical Committee which promulgated the rules governing international competition and was its president for four terms. He was also secretary and president of Group II of the WWSU embracing Europe, Africa and the Near East.
Coutau died in March of 1984.