Mary Murphy

"Don't let go until your nose hits the water!"

Mary Murphy was an inspiration to skiers of all ages. She was best known as the gray haired lady who rode a Sky Ski to Catalina Island. Mary’s water skiing journey began late; at age 40 with her husband Nick Sr., and their 4 children Leontine, Pat, Mike, and Nick. Over the next 48 years the family grew to include many water-loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 2004 Mary skied behind one boat with four-generations!

Mary never had a cross word for anyone, and was always the first to grab a flag and act as observer and cheerleader. Two of her favorite water ski maxims were: “Don’t let go until your nose hits the water,” and “If you don’t fall you don’t learn anything.”

Through the years Mary always had a camera to document her family’s skiing milestones and triumphs. Pat set an official world record for speed in an outboard boat, while Mike went on to co-invent the kneeboard and sit down hydrofoil. Her grandson Tony went on to become a 10-time national and world champion in kneeboarding, hydrofoiling, and wakeboarding.

Mary Murphy made her own mark in the water skiing world at the age of 79. She rode her foil from Long Beach, CA to Catalina Island, a distance of 26 miles across open ocean. The next year Mary outdid herself for her 80th birthday. The “Catalina Queen Mary” dodged sharks and dolphins all the way to Catalina Island and back; a four and a half hour, 52+ mile round trip. For each of the next eight years Mary celebrated her birthday by repeating the Catalina crossing. Her exploits landed coverage in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, The National Enquirer, numerous overseas publications, and much more. She was inducted into the Hydrofoiling Hall of Fame in 2000.


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