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Horton Horton

Sweet spot - where is it?


Deep11
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I'm not sure if this might be a question better asked as a poll. As I'm not sure how to set that up I'll post it like this first.

 

As I undertand it one of the main goals in our sport (once we know how to stack properly) is getting as quickly as possible from one side of the wake to other. What I'd like to know is, is there a "sweet spot" where you should be aiming for maximum load ( resistance / whatever) on the line in order to achieve the required acceleration and angle?

 

Listening to different coaches and the threads here there seem to be a few different ideas. The options I can see are:

 

1. As soon as possible when you get your hand back on the handle

2. Midway from bouy to whitewash

3. At the whitewash

4. At the first wake

5. Right behind the boat

6. Second wake

7. No such thing as maximum load - resist from hand on to when you release

8.?

 

Note: this is not about edge change but the max load that starts the edge change.

It seems to me that the way in which you ski will be dictated by your approach to loading the line and a "sweet spot" will give the quickest acceleration with the least effort, if there is a "sweet spot" is it the same at all line lengths?

 

Look forward to hearing the collective views / ideas.

 

Kevin

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What helped me start running -32 was #2. I found that if I just carry my speed through the turn I can ride the momentum all the way through the hookup and then allow the ski to move about a ski length. That is where I jump on it. This way I am able to ride the whip produced by the boat at short lines all the way up through the edge change and into the next ball.

 

If I load too early, I will find that my ski is too deep and the boat will pull me up, resulting in a loss of direction at centerline

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In the context of an early edge change, I'd say the max load should be felt at the first wake, but not because that's where you should be making an extra effort. It should just be the result of staying down and strong against the rope in a solid position as the natural dynamics of the rope progressively increase the load. By merely resisting getting stood up by the load behind the boat, the load can build all the way through the second wake.
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This is a really good subject and one that is so often misunderstood and is the source of disagreement.

 

I 100% agree that the trick to slalom is getting from one side to the other as fast as possible. I think of it as a race with the boat. You want to get to your widest point before the boat gets to the next set of balls. So the question is how to get across the fastest and in control.

Load is a funny subject. You are going to have load and as the rope gets shorter you may have a lot of it but you want as little as possible. Let me say that again: You will have a lot of load but you want to try to not have any extra. That is what “light in the line” means to me.

 

I believe is was @TFIN who introduced me to the idea of easing into and out of my load (not saying I do this well). As I understand what he said, you want to pick up the load as far inside the ball line as is practical, create the speed you need and then somewhere around the centerline ease out of your load.

 

If you bring your free had back to the handle as late as possible and/or delay loading the rope you will have ample angle (and it is easier to maintain your stack). With plenty of angle and good body position you will “ski into your load”. It will just happen. Simply maintaining the angle you have will result in an amount of load. The mistake most of us make at this point it to add to the load. Lord knows, I suck at this! I habitually add load at this point and it costs me dearly.

 

So why is a TON of load a bad thing? Why not just bury your shoulder at the ball and totally go at it Old School? The more load you have at edge change the less control you have. Besides that more load does not always mean more speed. The easiest way to add load and not speed is to ride the tail of the ski.

 

Let me sidetrack this conversation a bit to talk edge change:

I think it was DownTown @MatthewBrown that explained this to me. (He did not exactly say the following but what he told me helped it make sense) At edge change you want your upper body to almost stay in a lean away from the boat and the ski should simply release and flow away from the pylon. (You have heard of the “Reverse C *”? This is vaguely what Matt was talking about.) This is a subtle move that requires some finesse.

 

What does that have to do with load? The more load you have and the later you have it the harder it is to have a flowing and controlled transition. If you are not overloaded and you ease into and out of your load you will find that your edge change becomes a transition that will cast you out wide and early to the next ball.

 

One more thing. The more speed you have leaving the ball => the less load you will need to maintain your angle. Speed is your friend. You want to see me screw up a perfectly good pass? Watch me crank an onside turn, basically park the ski, lose my water speed, exit the turn on the tail of the ski and create a lot of load on the rope. The result is a frantic and out of control edge change going toward off side. Or I could exit the same ball centered over the ski with a lot of water speed followed by a calm and controlled edge change going to off side. My point is more speed and less load is better.

 

*For the record I generally avoid conversation about the “Reverse C” because I think it is generally misunderstood. It is the result of doing a number of things right but is not itself a technique.

 

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Just getting back into skiing and planning to start focusing on the course next season I have been watching a lot of videos recently. I have particularly been focusing on Nate Smith videos largely because he is a relatively skinny guy like me -- unfortunately that is the only thing we have in common. Well, and he is not too bad of a skier.

 

Anyway, I have noticed that coming out of his on-side turns you can rarely see a point where he seems to really give a hard pull. His deceleration and acceleration are just seamless. However, on his off-side turns you can frequently see him give what looks like an extra tug on the line right after the completion of the turn but before he gets into the white water. It doesn't look like much and is amazing that that is all it takes for him to rocket across the wakes in time for the next buoy. So, to me it looks like Mr. Smith is using your option #2.

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@TallSkinnyGuy‌

Watching Nate is deceptive. His center of mass is way forward (efficient) and his water speed management is the best in the business. If you are not as efficient as he is and if you are not going as fast as he is, you cannot match his timing. The timing of his load is largely the result of his speed and efficiency => not the other way around.

 

I am not saying watching Nate is not a good idea. I am just saying that you have to understand there is more going on there.

 

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Load just happens, and I agree with @Horton that my goal is not to "add to the load". In my old school days, I would turn and basically fall away from the boat with my shoulders. That, my friends, is adding load! Now I make a deliberate effort to stay tall and off the water at the conclusion of the turn/return to the handle. This moves my COM forward and allows me to accept and maintain load/direction rather than overloading, losing speed and getting snapped into the next ball. Sounds like Horton and I share some bad behaviors. I, too, have been known to plant the ski at the finish, fall away, overload, and ruin an otherwise nice pass!
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@Deep11

The correct answer is “All of the above”. But it really depends on how you interpret and implement each of them as to which thought will help you the most.

 

I really don’t like the term “Load” when used by itself. You can create a lot of load that will be useless in generating speed by turning the ski 90 deg to the rope, but not generate any acceleration. Or you can be “light on the line” and ski straight down course and inside the next buoy.

 

What you really want to do is maximize the acceleration/load ratio. In other words, how fast can you go without trying to stop the boat? It really helps if you exit the turn with as much speed as you can carry and have the ski pointing slightly more across than straight at the buoy. Then move your COM in the direction you want to go, while maintaining a “stacked” position for maximum efficiency.

 

Oh, and key to this is being smooth. Turn and crank leads to over-loading and inefficient -4acceleration. It’s a delicate balance that you can watch in many of the high end skiers.

 

If it was easy, we would all be running -41.

 

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@horton What post about ski efficiency/spray was getting at. Energy has to go somewhere, acceleration, drag, spray, where else? Is it a significant amount that makes a difference? Drag yes, spray maybe not?
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When coaching, I like to use the analogy of a swing set. I believe that it is very similar to the ideal pull for skiing and something that everyone can relate to, even the kids. It is similar to what @TallSkinnyGuy‌ mentioned about watching Nate; an aggressive, short, quick pull right before the white water into the first wake. Similar to a jab in boxing (80% power, short and quick but effective). When you are on a swing on the downward motion, you do a quick pump to give you the maximum speed and momentum to carry you as high as possible to the other side. If you do this pump to early, to late or to long, you will receive a jerk on the way back down; similar to losing the line just like you do at the finish of the turn if you pull to long. I believe the ideal pull with the max load is short and quick and the location is in the quadrant between the finish of the turn and about 3-5 feet before the first wake. Nate obviously has figured it out just like Freddy has in jump. Nate gets an extra swing off the second wake unlike anyone else just like Freddy gets the extra lift unlike any other jumper .
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@JAS The problem with the spray conversation is there is no way to make it into a metric. Theoretically the skier with less spray is more efficient but there is no way to measure it. It is a good concept to create understanding but I do not think there is value beyond that.

 

To quote the worst boss I ever had "You can not manage what you can not measure".

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@Detrick‌ I want to make sure readers do not misunderstand what you mean. Are you suggesting that skiers want to add a bunch of load at the first wake? (I am pretty sure this is not what you mean but want to be clear)

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@Horton‌ No, you do not want a bunch of load and you do not want to load the line all at once by dropping your shoulder. You always want to keep your shoulders level. I believe coming out of the finish of the turn with level shoulder, you want to have your center of mass moving across course towards the first wake as you progressively start to build your angle; which will create the load. As your momentum and angle generated moves you into the first wake with the ski under line (in between you and the boat), you then give you a quick max load (your "pump on a swing or jab in boxing") leaning away in a stacked, tug-a-war, position through the centerline of the boat. From the centerline on, you do not want to be in a pulling or loading position. You do want to keep tension through your arms to receive maximum outbound direction. If you pull past centerline, then the boat is now pulling you down the course preventing you from reaching your maximum outbound direction. Pulling past the centerline also creates more speed into the buoy which creates a loose line at the finish of the turn. I hope this clarifies it. Feel free to ask me questions if something doesn't make sense.
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This is really great dialogue and just what I was hoping for with really interesting clarification.

Like most here I've tried all the above approaches and all work, more or less. Right now my favoured answer is 2) and @detrick has put into words what I have been working on recently as a result of spending time last week with Freddie Winter's coach - Dimiti

 

( for reference if you are looking for excellent coaching in a beautiful location on the Greek coast, 5min walk from the harbour, restaurants and hotels, then I can't recommend it highly enough - http://waterskigreece.com)

 

Dimitri's ethos is that whilst there are many ways to get it done, to ski most efficiently then a "touch and go" approach is required, with the sweet spot about 1-2m in front of the White water - essentially as @detrick explained it.

Going further however we were discussing that if you get it right then the sweet spot should be just that - a short sharp input to the line which catapults you into the wake and across the the next bouy.

Because you are wide and early you can stand tall into the bouy and crucially, because you have no intention of cranking the turn, you just ride the ski to the sweet spot - balance, COM etc all in the right place.

As has been said above if you crank a turn the result is that you generally load early by falling back slightly or taking a hit - because this is ahead of the sweet spot you won't ( importantly you actually can't) generate instant acceleration and have to resist for longer - effectively a loading zone from connection to the wakes - gets it done but direction suffers.

Conversely if you load late (into the first wake) you generally end up pulling long which results in too much speed and slack at the next bouy.

 

Clearly the first step in getting things done is being able to stack correctly. All of us however have felt amazing effortless hook ups when we hit it just right after the turn. The point of this approach is to be able to do it for every wake crossing and to learn at each line length just how much load to put in to get you to the next sweet spot.

 

Taking this further we were discussing how this approach to loading the line can be the bedrock to your technique:

If your primary goal is to load the line instantly in the right direction 1-2m in front on the White water then a lot of other stuff will take care of itself.

 

 

I've been working on this by repeating 13m for now - It's early days and I am not a great skier but the video I've attached shows a 13m pass before (more constant load/resistance) and then one from yesterday, when my only focus was getting to the sweet spot to load. I think that overall the sweet spot pass looks better, even though I'm not hitting it quite right yet and totally failed out of 3. - certainly felt easier. Engine note says I'm working differently too.

 

 

Certainly interesting stuff to work on during the winter.

(Baller index was -12 hence the full winter gear)

 

(Anyone else notice how long it takes to get your head round posting on waterski theory?)

 

 

 

 

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@horton you are making way too much sense on this topic, unfortunately I'm afraid your buoy count will now start to suffer from having too much grey matter involvement....the more you know, the worse you ski....the more you feel, the better you ski...eat a couple of Bako mushrooms and chew on that
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