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Rock Aqua Jays to perform at show in United Arab Emirates

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 27, 2008
— Members of the Rock Aqua Jays in December will be skiing nearly a half world away.

A 16-member delegation—skiers and a boat driver—of the local amateur water show ski club has been invited to perform in the United Arab Emirates during a Formula 1 Powerboat Race world tour stop.


A person who works with an entertainment promotional organization in Abu Dhabi in August contacted Gerry Luiting, a veteran of the local ski team.


"He was soliciting bids to produce a ski show in their country. They wanted additional entertainment," Luiting said.


"This is the first trip to the Middle East for the team and a huge honor for our organization to be invited," he said.


Skiers are scheduled to leave Dec. 2 and fly to Abu Dhabi, seat of the federal government and the oil capital of United Arab Emirates. They will return Dec. 8.


The people who brought the Aqua Jays to China to perform, Luiting said, recommended the ski team.


A group of Aqua Jays has performed in China four times, and Luiting and his wife, Cathy, have performed in Japan. Luiting has performed in Jordan, and Matt Klay skied professionally in Germany last summer.


But this show brings new challenges, Luiting said.


Each one-hour performance will include jump, wakeboarding, bare footing, air chair, doubles, swivel and the four-high pyramid acts.


And the team will ski in the salt water of the Persian Gulf.


"That changes buoyancy, speeds and feel of the water and will take a bit to get used to. It is considerably different," Luiting said.


The Aqua Jays must pack and haul all of their costumes, wet suits, skis, ropes and other equipment to fit in the airline’s 50-pound weight limit, which has been reduced from 75 pounds.


"It takes a few hours to bag everything," Luiting said.


Probably the biggest adjustment will be skiing on a 1-mile show course lined with thousand of spectators. That’s much longer than the 100-yard show course at their home site on the Rock River at Traxler Park in downtown Janesville.


"We have to able to hold the pyramid up (longer)," Luiting said.


That’s why skiers have been working out even more than usual, he said.


"The stamina we’ll need will be incredible," Luiting said.


Club members must pay upfront costs for team apparel, passports, immunizations and general travel. The promotional agency that hired them will provide airfare, meals, lodging and transportation.


"Once we’re there, there really is no cost," Luiting said.


Luiting still doesn’t know how many shows the Aqua Jays will perform, but it will be at least one and maybe as many as four, he said.


"We’re skiing for sure on Friday and maybe additional shows on Thursday," he said. "We’re still negotiating."



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