Ski club celebrates 60 great years

Photos: Jerry Power, Ronnie Donaldson and Kellie Forrester rekindle Clearwater Aquatic Club memories by looking through photo albums and minute books, and Ronnie Donaldson water-skiing.

By Mick Jensen

Clearwater Aquatic Club is having a 60th jubilee celebration over Christchurch show weekend and anyone involved with the club over the years is invited.

Fittingly, the November 16 main event will be held in the original club house on the shores of Lake Camp.

The aquatic club has been all about promoting and supporting local water-skiing over the last six decades and, in more recent years, wakeboarding as well.

The club’s name is taken from the nearby lake settlement of Clearwater, but all the aquatic action has taken place on Lake Camp, where motorised craft are permitted.

Long time club members like Ronnie Donaldson have taken themselves, their children and their grandchildren through their paces at the lake over many years.

Mr Donaldson, like a lot of club members, has a bach at Clearwater and has spent countless hours on the water.

Now approaching his 86th birthday, he was a waterskier for 60 years and only stopped when he reached 80.

“I used to water-ski on the Rangitata and I can tell you the move to Lake Camp was far more suited to the sport.

“It’s a great spot and has provided a lot of fun and enjoyment for my family over the years.”

Top performing water-skiers abound in the Donaldson family, including Ronnie’s grandchildren George, Hugh and Lana.

Mr Donaldson said he remembered a jetty being put in at Lake Camp and the club house and jumps being built many years ago.

The club had hosted some big events in the past, including the Canterbury trick competition, and also its own popular club day, which continued to be held in March every year.

Another club stalwart, Jerry Power, said the Clearwater Aquatic Club had been one of the strongest in the country for a number of years.

“We’ve had a number of skiers performing well at national level and a proud history.”

He said there had always been a good turnout at New Year’s Day events, both from skiers and spectators.

Skiers had performed pyramid displays, tricks and the atmosphere had been really good.

Mr Power said club members had also been strongly behind the establishment of Lake Hood and were advocates of a dedicated water-skiing area at the site for many years.

While Lake Hood was focused on the competitive side of water-skiing, Lake Camp continued to offer a great venue for learners and for social and leisure skiers, he said.

Another with fond childhood memories of holidays and weekends spent at Lake Camp is Kellie Forrester.

Mrs Forrester said her grandparents, parents and now her own family had baches at Clearwater and all had enjoyed countless hours on Lake Camp.

“There are a number of families with multi generational connections to the aquatic club.

“I think a lot of us will remember the sound of Ronnie Donaldson’s tractor firing up and knowing that he was preparing to put his old boat Richochet in the water for a day of water-skiing,” she said.

Although the tractor was sold a couple of years ago, the old boat will be brought out to rekindle memories at the 60th birthday bash.

The celebration will also feature a slide show, static display and selection of minute books, photos and newspaper clippings collated over the years.

The Clearwater Aquatic Club has four current life members – Gary Green, Brian Downes, Peter Etheridge and Jerry Power – and Ronnie Donaldson has been its patron for more than 20 years.

Membership remains healthy and a strong committee will continue to guide it forward.

More information on the jubilee gathering can be obtained by emailing to

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