Set up for Success: Better driving equals better skiing

By Chris Eller

Pre-game boat setup is crucial to any three-event skier and driver. Whether you are hand-driving or using cruise control, making sure boat speeds and balance are set accurately can make all the difference in a skier’s set. The better driver you become and the more you understand your boat, the more you will help improve your training partner’s skills. Here are five ways to do just that.

Boat speed

It is critical for all three events to set all boat speeds accurately, whether you are hand-driving or using cruise control.

Using a GPS

Calibrating your speedometer at either a low or high speed can cause the other end of the speed spectrum to be way off. Instead, pick a middle-of-the-road speed, like 28 mph, to save you from frustration down the line. If you have cruise control, take the time to calibrate base lines for all speeds in slalom and jump modes, as well.

After the setup

Many times with cruise control, you will get perfect boat times up until you start pulling the skier, making times really slow or really fast. This may result from prop slippage due to load, different amounts of friction for different boat manufacturers or unpredictable power output from your engine. Look for a pattern and adjust your base lines accordingly so you can come off the dock each time with a new skier and know that your times will be correct.

Smooth it out

Just like when driving cars, we all have different acceleration tendencies — from jerky and aggressive to smooth and passive. It should be your goal to be as smooth as possible while accelerating and engaging the cruise control. If you overshoot the speed, the cruise control has to work hard to find the desired tempo. Many times this happens during the setup portion of a skier’s run. When the skier is entering the slalom or jump course or beginning their trick run, the time it takes for the boat to settle in can be critical to his or her success. The driver’s ability to get to speed quickly is directly affected by their familiarity with the lake setup, as well.

Finding the Sweet Spot

One of the best boats we have at Coble Ski School drives the sweetest with a 170-pound driver and a 190-pound observer. Boats are like skis in that they have a sweet spot or balance point that makes them perform at their prime. Once you find this spot, it will become easier each time to determine from your crew’s weight makeup where to place the weight. This can make an ill-handling boat manageable and an already good boat great!

Shared with permission of WaterSki Magazine