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Driving tips please


Bill22
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I have searched for info on driving tips but did not find much. Any good instructions, videos or articles for beginner drivers?

 

I will be pulling my buddy at -28/34 on Saturday and want to give him a good pull. I have never skied/driven this lake and it has a short setup at one end.

 

I have been driving a boat for +12 years but have very little experience driving in the course.

 

I read you want to counter steer just at the same time as the skier hooks up. I know the amount of counter steer would change based on line length, speed, boat, boat setup, skier size, skier style...did I leave any factors out...wind, boat weight distribution.

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If you're a novice course driver, just start out by concentrating on keeping the boat in the middle. If you do that for your buddy at 28 off, he'll be happy enough. Countering and such is an advanced skill that you will develop with time. Also try to get the boat up to speed as early as possible without over speeding.
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I believe too many people try too hard when it comes to driving straight. As a result they make movements with the boat which ends up hurting the skier and feeling hard. Most of us are out there to have fun and enjoy skiing and dont need a record capable pylon path. Let the tail of the boat go with the skier a little, dont correct the boat when the skier is off the second wake into the ball, and slightly point the boat to the next ball as they hook up. I think those are a few key points to keep in mind.
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Sounds like all good tips.

I have been able to get in sync with slightly counter steering when the skier hooks up while freeskiing. Driving in the course I have focused more on looking straight ahead and not in the mirror as much.

 

Thanks,

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@Bill22: First, congrats on asking how to be a better driver, that is great and certainly appreciated by the skier. What boat/speed control are you using? With a short setup, you might need to combine the right amount of throttle aggression and conservatism to both get the boat up to speed and not have it overshoot at the beginning of the course. Your buddy should be able to provide tips on that. As for using the mirror, as now in a new course, only take a peek at the end to verify you were centered in the course and to provide reference to what keys you used looking down the course, and as noted, don't look at the next set of gates, but down at the end of the course.
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@DW‌ I will be driving my '01 Lx with classic PP pro 6.5 (no GPS, no Stargazer). I have had problems with over speeding entering the course before. In a PP discussion I learned how much throttle the driver applies can help PP not over shoot as much.

 

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Steering with your palms (not fingers) with your hand around 9:30 (as opposed to the top of the steering wheel) will help prevent over-steering. When anticipating the pull from the skier, press against the wheel (brace), as opposed to counter steering. This will result in a softer, but firm pull for the skier.
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@Bill22: One step that seems to help is to move the throttle just past the desired speed so the motor does not have to unwind the string any more than necessary. Also, a good throttle return spring helps. Have fun!
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@Marco,

 

You just described my approach almost exactly. For me, there is also a slight pressuring of the wheel and a subtle "pointing" of the boat, rather than turning it. I also have my hand at 8:30 most of the time, but do vary up to 9:30 occasionally.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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@Bill22 Another important point about being a novice driver outside of what has already been mentioned is this: With the older version of your PP, make sure you adjust your settings on each pass. I get more frustrated about the settings not being altered rather than how straight the pull is. Nothing like coming into a tailwind and keeping the settings for the headwind--come in pretty hot and the times are off. I am also amazed at how many times drivers forget that one little thing.

 

Also, the way I was taught, I NEVER look in the mirror. As you drive more and more and more, you will learn to feel your way through the course. When pulling guys like @scotchipman into 35 and 38, you can literally tell if they are pulling hard, if they are ahead, if they are late, etc etc. Your adjustments will literally become automatic as you pull more skiers. It is imperative to keep focused ahead of you and not behind.

 

Lastly, most skiers are damn grateful for the pull, and better skiers are very patient with a person looking to do better. I only have issues with drivers who "think" they are great pullers, and are not open to feedback. Be open and eager to learn, and I don't know a skier on BoS who wouldn't love a pull from you!

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@DW link is below for PP classic discussion.

 

It can be intimidating to admit I have no idea what Kx & Px are? Or what the default value would be. Yes, I have called & emailed PP. They are very helpful but when I get on the water I want to ski & not play with PP settings. (maybe I will dig up the PP discussion)

http://ballofspray.com/forum#/discussion/11838/pp-classic-question

 

A little off topic..back to driving.

@Marco‌ I will give that 9 & 12 o'clock a try. thanks

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The Kx and Px are really just fine tuning parameters that at this stage you can ignore. They simply allow you to tune when the additional pull happens and add more throttle when a skier pulls via the "switch" which provides the system a signal to add some throttle. There are some decent instruction manuals and guides on the PP site for both single and multi-line displays. Do you have magnets to provide the time? Assuming yes, you can tune the wind or weight parameters if you need to dial in the time & they can be done quickly.
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@MISkier - Great minds think alike...but actually I have to give the credit to the senior driver who did my driving clinic. That tip came from him.

 

@Bill22 - To be clear, it is steering from 9:00ish only, not from 12:00. Your left hand should be around 9:00 (adjusted for your personal comfort), but NOT near the top of the wheel, where there is a tendency to drift from side to side. Your right hand should always stay on the throttle.

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@Bill22 Thanks for the pulls when I was up your way. Your driving was good, so all the tips here will only make you even better. Like was mentioned earlier the key to a short lake is to get to speed early. A quick glance at your tach to confirm as you reach it and not over is a good reference. You got the skills have a great day.
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Saturday went great, I did fine driving. The boat did NOT get pulled all over due to lack of experience driving. The first 3-4 passes I was not getting lined up early enough at either end. The rest of the day went smooth.
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I need to take a driving class to become a registered USA waterski driver. A skier at a nearby club said he could pull me some weekdays if I could drive for him. He said some days he is the only one there.

 

I guess it is an insurance thing all drivers must be certified?

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If a USAWATERSKI club has sanctioned practices(the only way insurance is in effect) the driver must be a rated or trained driver. You can become s trained driver by taking an online class/test and the doing a practical with a rated driver. Go to USAWATERSKI website and you can find details on becoming a trained driver. Oh yeah, you also have to submit to a DMV check.
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Try to learn where the skier is all the time- and don't counter unless they have the handle in both hands- before and after the buoy... Less IS more. Learn where your offset is and keep driving the boat to center. You'll do fine.
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Bill don't be afraid to be proactive if you are anticipating then the boat path will not be affected as much. If you are waiting too long to react, the boat will take the hit and you will find yourself chasing the skier. It is more important to give the skier a tight line on the back side of the buoy, this will keep the skier from getting too deep in the water at the back side of the buoy and hitting the boat hard which will certainly have an adverse effect on your path in the course. Make sure the boat is set up, good torque on the wheel, level, weight it if necessary and make the boat easy to drive. Fighting a boat and the skier is not much fun!!!
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Assuming there is enough room, what is the preferred turn around method? Do most of you guys stop and rest between each pass? As you come out of the course, which direction do you prefer your driver to turn to set up for the next pass? I'm not a strong course driver and now teaching my wife and hopefully my son eventually to pull me.
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The guys I ski with like to drop after every pass or 2, sometimes for rope changes some times just for a break. I prefer to run 4 and then wait for another turn in the rotation.

 

We always turn to the right (left a bit and then right so that you get a longer setup). The LXI doesn't care for full on left hand turns and at one course we use the right turn is the only option at one end if you want a prayer of setting up.

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@Cumby85 oldjeep hit on the main thing (Safety is always 1st). If you are going to spin, make sure you go straight a little bit after you exit the course. That will give you room for a good setup.
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Glad to find this thread. I have driven boats and pulled skiers my whole life, but pretty much behind outboards, with a turn here and there on a friend's tourney boat. Oh, and sometimes on a flat bottom jet boat. That was fun. you quickly learn on those boats that you must have some throttle to steer.

 

so that said, since I will be moving into inboard/tourney boat ownership, any resources anyone knows about for learning handling characteristics of inboards as opposed to outboards? I realize on an outboard, the ass end is essentially being pushed around by the motor having been turned, and that is what I am used to. Also, I will want to learn my handling at slow speeds, around the skier and the dock, etc., in addition to the ski tips above. I am sure I will pick it up, but it never hurts to study a little.

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In Nautique, the boat pulls to the left in reverse. Everything else pulls right. The tail swings faster when in reverse if the boat is out of gear. When backing, sometimes you have to drive forward to point the stern in the direction you want to go. (If you want to back left, point the bow right and go forward to swing the stern.) Going in and out of gear a lot when maneuvering (aka bumping) around fixed objects like docks or skiers makes it easier. In forward, a balanced level boat is easier to drive. When a skier is around the platform, turn the motor off. #iskiconnelly

Lpskier

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I did some searching and reading last night, and it looks like that backing issue will be one of the main things to get used to. With my outboard, you could point the prop while steering to overcome that. Sounds like going slow, and in and out of gears to keep some water moving over the rudder is key in slow boat handling, and that once you are used to it, it will be fine. Mine is likely to be a malibu, so I guess the pull in reverse will be to the right?
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@sunvalleylaw : there are some very good tips in the safety section on the schnitzskis website, worth a read. Correct on reverse pull to starboard on a Malibu or any tourney ski boat with LH rotation engine/propshaft. A bit of practice and you should find it no problem to handle your vessel. Not knowing what your outboard power level was, a tourney ski boat tends to have an abundance of power in comparison, so a gentle or at least not full WOT throttle application to pull up a skier/rider/footer is advisable. Ergonomics are also much better and as the captain, you will stay seated and keep your eyes forward while towing, skier viewing is via the bigger mirror (when you become capable) and really the purpose of the spotter.

 

Congrats on the sale of the outboard and the eventual purchase of a tourney ski boat. Have fun.

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the main thing about inboards around the dock is getting comfortable with the way the back end moves when you put the boat in reverse. This becomes a very useful tool when docking.

Also if you have rudder turned full left (on an MC) and you bump the throttle back and forth between fwd and reverse, you can almost walk the boat sideways towards Starboard...

 

...and all of this is reversed on a nautique

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Thanks guys. The outboard is a 120 Johnson. It worked pretty well at sea level, but was pretty tough to get up behind if you were not a seasoned skier and patient at Redfish lake about about 7700 feet. :) I have driven comp boats occasionally and have not used the same all steam ahead all at once approach as with my outboard. I will find the throttle response of the new boat and learn accordingly I am sure.

 

Thanks for the tips on the docking. It will come with practice. The big challenges will be when high mountain lake winds are up in the afternoon, at and around the dock, and on to the trailer. I did not drive the boat up on the trailer with the outboard, but cranked it in over the rollers old school. Fortunately, my brother has a tige and can give me some help there.

 

I am adept at getting on and off the beach with the outboard, and dipping the motor in a little to get off then dropping the motor more to steer. I will probably be very conservative with the new boat at first, and try to stay away from a beach that has an onshore wind in the afternoon. I, of course, will anchor off the beach and use the beach only for offloading, etc. fortunately the lakes I go to have steep drop offs, at least where we hang out. Most people at the lake have some sort of tournament boat, so I am sure I can learn from others there about area specific strategies in addition to the good fundamentals here. :)

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Forward idle in an inboard is significantly faster than forward idle in an outboard. This is also the reason to bump into/out of gear to keep slow around fixed objects. If you just stick it in forward gear you can be moving pretty quickly.

 

Keep the rudder turns left or right on forward bump fairly minimal. Sometimes newbies are drifting rear left in neutral after forward and turn way back the other way then bump. Creates a fish-tail effect. Use smaller movements.

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