Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars

Stone Skipping legend Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars was the first competitor to be inducted into the Mackinac Island Stone Skipping Hall of Fame. A special induction ceremony held Saturday, September 23rd on the banks of the Allegheny River in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Shortly after, Russ succumbed to cancer on October 6, 2017.

Russ was the Guinness World Record Holder from 2007 to 2013 With 51 Skips. Since his first contest in 2003, Russ won 14 major tournaments. He is a six-time Franklin Rock in River Pennsylvania tournament winner and an eight-time Mackinac Island Stone Skipping & Gerplunking Club (MIS&GC) National Champion. From 2007 to 2012 Russ dominated nationally, winning the Little David Trophy an unprecedented six years straight.

Russ was famous for his tag line, “Skips Stones for Fudge” which boldly emblazoned his competition tee shirt. With his characteristic humor, Russ shared in an ESPN 360 interview that it was the lure of fudge that drew him to the sport (the MISS&GC awards a year’s supply of Ryba’s Mackinac Island fudge to the winner). Russ’ record setting 51 skips in 2007 drew national attention from the media and Russ went on to appear on ESPN 360 and CBS Sunday

 

Russ Byars (left) is inducted into the Hall of Fame by Director, Karl Rabe (right).

Russ’ legacy in the record books is skips achieved, records held and tournaments won. However, his legacy on the banks of the Allegheny, on the shores of Mackinac Island and in the hearts of stone skippers everywhere is that of a gracious competitor, an ambassador of the sport, an inspiration to the youth and a world-class skipper that embodied the whimsical roots of the sport.

Morning. Russ’ outgoing, plain speaking and quick-witted persona made him a media favorite and has endeared him to stone skippers everywhere. His dominating ability, gregarious personality and large frame earned him the fitting moniker “The Babe Ruth of Stone Skipping”.

 

Tournament Wins

Russ’ tournament record shows how he earned his reputation as an “All Conditions” skipper. He performed at the top of his class in the rough water conditions of Lake Huron on Mackinac Island and on the flounder-flat conditions on the Allegheny River in Franklin, Pennsylvania.

YearTournamentSkipsPlace
2003PA28First Place
2004MISS&GC21First Place
2004PA35First Place
2005MISS&GC30First Place
2006PA38First Place
2007MISS&GC33First Place
2007PA34First Place
2008MISS&GC25First Place
2008PA35First Place
2009MISS&GC28First Place
2010MISS&GC30First Place
2010PA42First Place
2012MISS&GC31First Place
2017GSSSC30First Place
2017MISS&GC31First Place
Legend
  • GSSSC Great Southern Stone Skipping Championship
  • MISS&GC Mackinac Island Stone Skipping and Gerplunking Club
  • PA Franklin Rock In River Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Championship

Russ displays his Gunnius World Record certificate for 51 skips with Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner (Left) and John “Lefty” Kolar (right).

Media Appearances

Russ Byars (left) and Kurt Steiner (right) ham it up for the movie cameras

Updated: October 30, 2017 — 10:03 pm
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