They might be crazy, but you can't fault the courage of those skiers who come out each year on New Year's Day to participate in the Bethel Island Frozen Bun Run.
It's an event that draws a couple hundred people to the Rusty Porthole, eager to cheer on the hardy souls that brave the Delta's chilly winter water.
This year, the Bun Run's 21 skiers were blessed with glassy water and 50-degree mercury. This is my 29th year in a row, said Brentwood resident Jim Sherfy, 46, who began this insane ritual when he was a mere 8 years old at the Eskimo Ski in Alameda. When they started the Bun Run in 1986, I started coming here and I haven't missed a year.
Sherfy, a member of the Delta Peddlers, rode his bicycle from Brentwood to Bethel Island trailering his water ski. I got a lot of funny looks on the way here, said Sherfy, who anxiously awaited his turn behind the ski boat driven by longtime volunteer Walt Tolly of Pacific Boat Works. I'm going to do a dock start.
Sherfy's intentions of avoiding the icy water were dashed as he was dragged behind the boat on his first try, only to end up submerged. It wasn't till his third try that Sherfy popped out of the water and began traversing the wake for an awesome run that earned him the Bethel Island Chamber of Commerce's Best Skier Award.
With teeth chattering and bare skin tinged bright pink, Sherfy shed his swim trunks and rode his bike down the dock in nothing but his birthday suit. The crowd of onlookers lining the levee at and around the Porthole, many of whom rode their Harleys to the event, roared with laughter.
Up next was 40-year-old Angela Martinez, who earned this year's Oldest Woman Skier Award. Two years ago, I won Best Woman Water Skier, said a wide-smiled Martinez as she readied herself for the plunge. It's awesome. It's the best rush in the world. If you can water ski on New Year's Day, you can do anything.
Other awards went to Daniel Witle, 13, and Stevielynn, 15, for youngest skiers; Bob B., 63, and Martinez, 40, for oldest skiers; Josh Wolf and Stephanie Hertell for best buns; Jon Garcia and Derek Kopell for best wakeboarders; Stevielynn and Edward Hertell for best costumes; and Sherfy and Kelli Brown for best skiers.