Would you like to learn to water ski?
Where the land ends the fun begins when you come to Latchi Watersports Centre
A beginners’ guide
It’s a magical sight when you see someone gliding over glassy-smooth water on a mono-ski. That ‘rooster tail’ looks superb. How did they learn to water ski like that you think? It’s tricky to get onto one-ski. Like anything, you must start with the basics; water-skiing on two skis is the place to begin.
You don’t have to be super-fit to learn to water ski, but it helps to be somewhat active in the first place. Because, after an hour or so of water-skiing, you’re really going to feel that your muscles have been working hard. So, here is our guide to learn to water ski (on two skis).
You need to wear a life-jacket or, ideally, a Personal Flotation Device (“PFD”). This is not just an essential safety equipment. It also keeps you buoyant whilst in the water putting on your skis. It should fit closely around your body fully covering your chest, stomach and back. And, it must be the right size and buoyancy for your weight. So be sure to check you’re wearing the right PFD before you start.
You’ll need a proper Water ski Tow Rope.
These have a small amount of stretch built into them to avoid being pulled violently (whiplash) on turns or crossing the wake from the boat. It should be a maximum of 23m long from the handle back to the boat. Make sure your rope then is specifically marked for Waterski use.
Select the best combination skis for your ability, size and weight.
A child will need a much smaller surface area for their skis than would say a grown man. A combination ski has a closed foothold into which you insert your feet. Behind this, on one ski, is another foothold for when you move onto one ski. But more on that in another post. The shape of the bottom of the water ski is equally important. When learning you will want what is known as a base-concave underside. Typically, waterski with this shape is wider and more stable, and easier to get pointed in a straight line.
The boat driver should be aware that they must ALWAYS turn-off the engine completely when the skier wishes to climb back aboard.
Or, when returning to a fallen skier. They must avoid bringing the skier close to shore or other obstacles and water users. They must constantly observe and communicate with the skier using hand-signals.
Now that you’ve got your equipment ready for use. It’s time to make sure both the skier and the driver will be able to understand each other. There are just seven hand signals to learn:
- If the skier signals with a ‘thumbs-up’ they wish to go faster.
- A ‘thumbs down’ signals they wish to go slower
- A thumb and forefinger together (okay sign) mean that everything is good with speed and direction
- When the skier waves a finger in the air and points in a direction to which they want the driver to turn.
- By patting their head, the skier indicates they have had enough skiing and wish to return to the boat, or to the beach.
- If the skier or the boat driver makes a ‘slashing’ motion around their neck they need to stop immediately.
- If you fall from your skies, make a clasping motion above your head to signal to the boat that you are uninjured and okay. You can also lift a ski out of the water, or simply hold your arm out straight above your head.
Although you’ll be aching to get out on the water, it’s a good idea to first practice on dry land. On a sandy beach, you can safely stand on your skis without damaging them. Hold the handle on the water ski rope and bend your knees until you are sitting on the skis – mimicking the position in the water. Get someone else to pull the rope until they pull you up into a position that looks as though your sitting on a chair. Make sure that your knees stay together, and that your arms are straight.
This is the basic position you will adopt when skiing for real on the water. We go into greater detail below on how to water ski when in the water.
How to Drive the Boat
It’s a fast start with a lot of deep-down torque from a good-sized engine that will get the skier up on their feet as quickly as possible. The rate of acceleration depends on the size of the skier. Children, for example, do not need nearly as much acceleration. And, for anyone, it’s important not to pull them out of the water with too much speed.
Once the skier is up, it’s important to maintain a steady speed, avoiding any acceleration or deceleration that hasn’t been signalled by the skier. There is a speed guideline based on the weight, size and skill of the person on waterski when travelling in a straight line. Speed will need to be adjusted up, or down when the skier is turning. If on the inside of a turn, the driver would usually speed up, on the outside of a turn, they would slow down.
- Weighing less than 23Kg – approximate speed 13 mph (21 km/h)
- 25-45kg – 16 mph (26 km/h)
- 45-68kg – 18 mph (29 km/h)
- 68-82kg – 21 mph (34 km/h)
- More than 82kg – 24 mph (38 km/h)
Getting ready to Water Ski
Now for the fun bit. Your first attempt at water-skiing. It is often easier to put on your skis when already in the water. Holding the back of the enclosed rubber shoe, slide in your feet and adjust the shoe for comfort accordingly. Make sure that your foot fits snugly but that it can also easily be released in case of a fall.
Hold the rope firmly with both hands and put it in the gap between your skis. Pull your knees to your chest with your arms resting around them. You should now have the handle at arm’s length from your abdomen and your skis more-or-less together, tipped slightly forward, and pointing straight ahead and sticking out of the water.
Ask the driver to idle forward to remove any slack from the rope. This will avoid having the handle instantly pulled from your grip as the boat accelerates.
When you’re ready to go. Shout “Hit It” with a raised hand (before returning that hand to the handle) and the driver should instantly apply power.
Keep your arms straight, lean back and the power of the boat will lift you out of the water and onto your skis. Resist the temptation to bend your arms or to stand-up too quickly as your skis will move forward of your centre of gravity and you’ll fall instantly.
Once you’re up, looking around and having fun – remember to keep your knees bent slightly to absorb any bumps from waves. It is difficult to maintain your balance the first couple of times. However, keep at it because after just a few attempts you will be skiing.
In the event you do fall, be aware of the position of your skis so that you do not get hit in the face by them. Remember to signal to the driver that you are okay and need picking-up for another go. You can do this with a raised arm, holding one ski out of the water, or by using a clasping motion.
Once you’ve mastered getting out of the water and skiing in a straight line, it’s time to try some tiny turns. If you push down with a little pressure on the inside edge of the ski opposite to the direction you wish to take, you will begin to turn. To turn left, put some pressure on your right ski and vice-versa.
As your confidence grows, it’s time to cross the wake.
Make sure you cross the wake at a good (sharp) angle. Don’t cross the wake with one water ski at a time – it’s a certainty that you will fall. You should attempt to cross the wake as quickly as possible. Remember when you go over the wake to the other side, you’ll feel like you’re accelerating so remember to lean back slightly.
When you’ve built up some experience, it’ll be time to move to a “Mono Ski”
More on that in a future blog “how to look cool on one ski”
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This year we’re celebrating 40 years of providing outstanding customer service.
Latchi Watersports is the oldest and largest watersports company in Cyprus. And, probably the largest watersports and boat hire company in the Mediterranean. We’ve been going from strength-to-strength since 1978. And, 2018 marks our 40th anniversary.