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Boat Driving / Pro Ski Coach Water Ski Forum
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#1 Thu, Apr 9, 2009 4:36 PM

JohnE
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Boat Driving

I was reading the article on April Coble in WS and read how she said that training with Chris Eller driving has been an advantage.

So it has me wondering what one pro driver does better than another when pulling a pro skier.

Being that I can barely run the course and am not much better as a driver I'd love to hear some thoughts.

Thanks for any input.

John

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#2 Thu, Apr 9, 2009 5:33 PM

h20dawg79
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Water Ski Sage
From: nashville,tn.
Registered: Fri, Oct 17, 2008
Posts: 562
Skis At: Old Hickory Lake, TN.
Foot Forward: left

Re: Boat Driving

What a Brilliant Idea/Question for a Thread!!! smile

So How 'bout it Folks?   We've covered about Every other angle to try and Help our Progress, But not much is ever talked about from the other end of the Rope!!!

What do we like or dislike when it comes to "The Driver"???  and How can I become a Favorite Driver???cool


"Warning" -the Surgeon General has determined; That the preceding statements accurately reflect the views and opinions consistent with "DSS" (Delusional Slalomitis Syndrome) a highly contagious life altering condition... (Handle with Extreme care & Patience)

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#3 Thu, Apr 9, 2009 7:36 PM

2gofaster
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Slalom Mentor
From: Cypress, Tx
Registered: Sun, Jun 1, 2008
Posts: 337

Re: Boat Driving

Over the last 4 years, I've skied with two of the pickiest, 38 and 39 off skiers I can imagine. I've learned a TON. The first year, one of them would throw the handle every single time when he pulled out to set down. I wanted to drive back to shore and leave his smug ass there. But in time I figured out why he was doing it. In 4 years I feel as if I've gone from a pleasure driver to a real driver, capable of driving for anybody all the way into 41 off if necessary. Here are some tips I have:

1. Learn to use the speed control. As soon as the skier steps into the boat or you pull to the dock if you're tossing a handle out, ask speed, weight, etc. Even though I ski with the same 2-3 guys every single week, I still ask them what they want. Have the speed control set up BEFORE they get in the water. This means crew weight, wind, skier weight, etc. When the skier hits the water, I am ready to go.

2. When the skier is in the water, my left hand is on the wheel and my right hand is on the throttle. I can make any movement needed to protect my skier and my passengers.

3. A 15 or 22 off skier is actually harder to drive for because of the rope angles and where the pull comes from.  The boat will be down course farther, which is something you have to get used too.

4. Ask the skier after the first pass how your pull up was.  They will appreciate it.

5. In the course, the tail of the boat will move with the skier opposite of your counter steering. Done correctly, that doesn't mean the pylon is moving. The biggest mistake I made early on is to overdrive, thinking that the boat was moving more than it really was.  When you turn the steering wheel, the nose of the boat will rotate one way the tail will rotate the other. It basically is going to rotate around the pylon and fins.  Pay attention and learn to feel when this is just a rotate around the centerline and when you ARE actually getting pulled off line.

6. Learn the angles. When someone else is driving, pay attention to where skiers are at the hookup in relation to the boat. This is very important and you can use your knowledge of the angles effectively with your countersteer. The shorter the rope, the closer to the boat guides you'll be when your skier hooks up.


7. When you get pulled offline, don't over correct for too long.  Let's say the skier comes around 1 ball and sticks the ski and gives a big tug at the hook up at 32 off. He's then off across the wakes toward 2 ball. The result can be your boat being pulled to the right. If you correct for too long, you'll end up too far to the left side of the course when he relaxes his knees, starts the edge change, and enters the glide out to the buoy. What's the result? He loses tension on the rope when he expects there to be support. This is something you just have to learn by feel.

8. Learn how to set up the rudder. 99% of the boats out there, even the promo boats, do not have enough rudder torque.  Properly set up, you should not have a dead spot center wheel.  If you have the rudder torqued properly, you should be able to drive a straight line through the boat guides without seeing the nose rotate any and without seesawing the the wheel. If I have to move the wheel more than about 1/4", then it's time to put some more torque in the rudder. People get in our boats and think they have heavy wheels. And they do. But they go damn straight, with as little input as possible.

9. First pass of the day, I have an observer(if I have one) call the center line so I can pinpoint a spot on my boat that corresponds to the right hand boat guide when I'm centered in the course. In a Nautique 196, my spot is generally the oil pressure gauge. In a Response LX, its the middle upright for the bow grab rail.

10. Find the right seating position. I rest my left forearm on my left knee with my left hand on the wheel at the 7 oclock position. All of my steering input is with my wrist and NOT my elbow and shoulder.

11. Don't overcounter during the setdown. You should barely have to move the steering wheel left for the skier to pull out right. As soon as you do your initial small counter and come back straight, start to roll back the throttle and match the speed of the skier. Do not turn the wheel in towards the skier until he/she has started to lose their glide. This is easy at 15 and 22 off. It's damn difficult to learn to do at 39 off. smile I bet my counter to start the skiers setdown pullout is only about 1" of steering wheel movement and only lasts 1 second.

I hope some of these things help someone to alleviate thrown handles and hurt feelings. smile

Last edited by 2gofaster (Thu, Apr 9, 2009 7:41 PM)


Shane Hill

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#4 Fri, Apr 10, 2009 5:39 AM

JohnE
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Registered: Fri, Jun 1, 2007
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Re: Boat Driving

Thanks for the replies.  Nice write up 2go.  I'm all ears for anyone else with tips.

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#5 Fri, Apr 10, 2009 6:08 AM

StevenHaines
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Slalom Mentor
From: Canyon Lake Ca.
Registered: Mon, Jun 9, 2008
Posts: 152
Skis At: Canyon Lake, Ca.
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Website

Re: Boat Driving

Well said!

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#6 Fri, Apr 10, 2009 8:58 AM

Thomas Wayne
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Registered: Sun, Jul 27, 2008
Posts: 228

Re: Boat Driving

All excellent advice from 2gofaster.

I would add one thing regarding tip #7 above: when you correct for your skier, do so by giving the wheel a firm turn in the direction needed and then bring it right back to where it was.  "Firm" does not mean too long or too jerky, it just means a confident, short snap to correct and then right back to your initial position.

The reason for this is that you were [presumably] already going in a straight line parallel to the center of the course - the skier just pulled you off-center (sideways).  So you don't want to change your direction to a different angle, you simply want to move the boat sideways back into the center line.  Your quick snap  (and instant return) of the wheel will make this happen.

In my experience this small adjustment will be pretty much over before you even feel the boat move sideways at all.  If you notice the boat moving WHILE you're correcting, chances are you've already over-steered it.  Practice and experience will teach you how much wheel turn is necessary and, as 2gofaster says, wrist movement is all that's needed.

TW

Last edited by Thomas Wayne (Fri, Apr 10, 2009 9:00 AM)

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#7 Fri, Apr 10, 2009 4:50 PM

JP
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Posts: 102

Re: Boat Driving

Lots of really good points. All i would add is:

1) being center is important but it is more important to give the skier a good pull. Sometimes you will hurt the skier less if you make a change negligently than they would by you being off by 3 inches.

2) be aware of where the skier is in the course. Try to make all adjustments when the skier is directly behind the boat

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#8 Sat, Apr 11, 2009 8:54 AM

h2oski
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Re: Boat Driving

A few more driving comments:
Out of the course driving is also important, starting with the pull-out, One size doesn't fit all.  Get the boat on course and the speed set as far in advance of the 55M buoys as possible.  After the skier is out of the course, I adjust the throttle until the speed control is disengaged and I have control of the speed for the set down.   Try to drop the skier in the same spot and the same way each time, be consistent, the skier doesn't want to be thinking about where and how he is going to be dropped.

In the course, be aware of the prop rotation which affects how much pressure you need to apply to keep the boat path straight, its not the same for both sides.  A good driver learns to "feel" where the skier is so that you are adjusting with his movements not because of his movements.  To me its just a slight pressure on the rudder as you hookup with the skier and then just enough to keep the boat from moving.

Drive as much as you can for all ages and skill levels, 25 KPH is one of the hardest speeds to drive both in and out of the course.  The skiers opening pass is your chance to get familiar with him for the next passes.
Learn from each pass and ask for feedback.  I learned a lot by riding with good drivers, facing forward so I could feel the skier, and watching what they were doing with the wheel.

Terry

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#9 Sat, Apr 11, 2009 10:03 AM

J.R.
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From: West Bloomfield MI
Registered: Thu, May 8, 2008
Posts: 13
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Re: Boat Driving

2gofaster Thanks for the details. And the other comments as well. These pointers will help this rookie boat driver and maybe just maybe keep the skiers I pull happy.smile

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#10 Mon, Apr 13, 2009 8:21 AM

TVanO
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Re: Boat Driving

anyone have a link to a good reference for driving?

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#11 Mon, Apr 13, 2009 10:42 AM

snow1122
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Slalom Mentor
From: Los Angeles, Ca
Registered: Fri, Sep 26, 2008
Posts: 120
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Re: Boat Driving

Drive, drive and drive.............for different sports, such as wakeboarding, slalom at different speeds and rope lenghts, trick, barefooting (boom, long line, wake crossings, 1foot, tumble turns and stepping in and out of the boat).
One thing that helped me was driving the course without the skier.
Don't over steer the boat, easy does it.

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#12 Mon, Apr 13, 2009 7:29 PM

thager
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Rookie
Registered: Tue, May 6, 2008
Posts: 2

Re: Boat Driving

Google  schnitzskis.com  Schnitz had some great driving tips on his sight for slalom. Search around.

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#13 Mon, Apr 20, 2009 11:47 AM

tjo
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Slalom Mentor
From: Draper, UT
Registered: Wed, Apr 23, 2008
Posts: 197
Foot Forward: Right

Re: Boat Driving

8. Learn how to set up the rudder. 99% of the boats out there, even the promo boats, do not have enough rudder torque.  Properly set up, you should not have a dead spot center wheel.  If you have the rudder torqued properly, you should be able to drive a straight line through the boat guides without seeing the nose rotate any and without seesawing the the wheel. If I have to move the wheel more than about 1/4", then it's time to put some more torque in the rudder. People get in our boats and think they have heavy wheels. And they do. But they go damn straight, with as little input as possible.

Shane,

In your point #8, you mentioned rudder torque.  I did not know that was adjustable and I currently have to counter steer a bit to keep mine straight.  Can someone explain how to adjust this?


Travis Ogden

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#14 Mon, Apr 20, 2009 3:47 PM

ScotChipman
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Slalom Mentor
From: Utah
Registered: Wed, May 16, 2007
Posts: 262
Foot Forward: Right
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Re: Boat Driving

Travis (tjo),

More and more boats are coming with an adjustable tab on the rudder that allows you to adjust the torque. If your rudder does not have the tab you will have to grind it on your own. I'm about 99% sure that you grind the right trailing edge on all ski boats except Nautiques. I had to grind the rudder on my 2000 Response but my 2008 Response has the tab.


Scot Chipman

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#15 Tue, Apr 21, 2009 9:31 AM

tjo
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From: Draper, UT
Registered: Wed, Apr 23, 2008
Posts: 197
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Re: Boat Driving

Thanks Scot.  I'm in a '96 Ski Centurion, so I'm sure I'll be grinding.


Travis Ogden

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#16 Sun, Jun 21, 2009 1:30 PM

Brady
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From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Registered: Fri, Mar 27, 2009
Posts: 20
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Re: Boat Driving

Hey all,

This is my family's first summer driving our own ski boat through the course.  We seem to all be in need of some guidance - my dad is especially having troubles.  We were wondering if anyone knew of any good  ski course boat driving resources (i.e. books, websites, etc.).

Thanks & Happy Father's Day to the Dads out there

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#17 Sun, Jun 21, 2009 2:29 PM

h20dawg79
Karma:   10 
Water Ski Sage
From: nashville,tn.
Registered: Fri, Oct 17, 2008
Posts: 562
Skis At: Old Hickory Lake, TN.
Foot Forward: left

Re: Boat Driving

http://www.proskicoach.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=715

Maybe you've already read the above thread. If not, it's really pretty cool!cool


"Warning" -the Surgeon General has determined; That the preceding statements accurately reflect the views and opinions consistent with "DSS" (Delusional Slalomitis Syndrome) a highly contagious life altering condition... (Handle with Extreme care & Patience)

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#18 Mon, Jun 22, 2009 7:39 AM

Killer
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Slalom Mentor
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: Sun, Apr 5, 2009
Posts: 137
Skis At: Ontario
Foot Forward: Left

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#19 Mon, Jun 22, 2009 2:47 PM

Brady
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From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Registered: Fri, Mar 27, 2009
Posts: 20
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Re: Boat Driving

Thanks a lot guys - I appreciate the help!

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#20 Fri, Jun 26, 2009 6:59 AM

WadeWilliams
Karma:   15 
Pro Skier
From: Lynn, MA
Registered: Tue, May 15, 2007
Posts: 1087
Skis At: Not short enough
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#21 Thu, Jul 16, 2009 12:57 PM

WadeWilliams
Karma:   15 
Pro Skier
From: Lynn, MA
Registered: Tue, May 15, 2007
Posts: 1087
Skis At: Not short enough
Foot Forward: Right
Website

Re: Boat Driving

Driving articles from Tommy Harrington and Chris Eller at www.proskicoach.com/slalom_boat_driving

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#22 Tue, Jul 21, 2009 5:43 AM

Fred87
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From: Meuzac
Registered: Tue, Jul 21, 2009
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Re: Boat Driving

2gofaster : excellent high level (but simple) driving tips.
Just one feeling about point 8, the rudder on a Malibu is really,
smooth, and I find it very comfortable, even with big skiers.

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