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How to make deep water starts bullet proof ?


swbca
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Even after skiing in over 100 tournaments in my earlier lifetime, I now have an occasional problem that I never had before.  

I do about 30 deep water starts per week.  3 or 4 times each skiing season my start with dual boots fails because my ski gets trapped up against rope as the boat accelerates and then its over.  I can't always keep the tip of the ski in one place as the boat idles forward before I say "GO".   One of my drivers just comes back and says "NEXT SKIER".    

If I hold the ski about 20 degrees to the right to keep it away from the rope, it plows sideways and doesn't turn towards the boat when the boat accelerates.

Can the solution to this problem be put into words ? 

Edited by swbca
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I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm getting back into skiing this year after being out of it for over 10 years. 

I am right foot forward, double booted, and place the ski to the right of the rope. I realized 2 things:

1. I have to hold the handle with the over/under grip instead of both hands over like many people in my club.  It allows me to be stronger and put my upper body in a more normal position. I'm a heavier guy at 220lbs and on a really narrow ski.

2. I have to get the boat trolling forward a little and angle my ski and weight favoring to the right.  If my weight or ski starts to favor left towards the rope, then the pull out fails. I almost put it in my mind "ski to the right" when getting up for the first second or two, then I can straighten up against the rope and get up.

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I’m a lefty, so my rope is on the right side of my ski and my “neutral “ floating position for a get up is with the tip well left of center. If I’m coming out of the water and my tip starts to go to the right of center, I just let the tip bury itself into the rope and then I just lean into it. The rope is following the boat and if your ski is pressed into the rope, it can go nowhere but straight. Trust it and Bob’s your uncle. 

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Lpskier

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I know this doesn't intuitively make sense, but in teaching it this way for years I can tell you that it works.

First, your ski can only be "trapped against the rope" if your ski is fairly verticle.

This method fixes that.

Get you knees up to your chest inside your arms.

Get the ski well out of the water, with your toes on your front foot near the water's surface.

Rear foot tucked up near your butt.

Keep your arms straight, chin up.

When the pull comes on relax. 

As you feel the water push on the bottom of the ski, extend your legs and stand up. after you get used to this method, you can start standing up quicker, but for now do  it gradually.

The ski starting up higher, will immediately roll down flat on top of the surface, rather than plow, the tip will be nowhere near the rope.  The ski should be on a relatively low angle because your back foot is tucked up.

Here is a decent shot of JMac starting....

https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxOq4UofGCdmsa9vqN35MoneZTbsc68Buq?si=mgH82ZVwSGYo3VPh

 

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@JordanI have done what you suggest occasionally.  I noticed that a few of the pro skiers almost look like they are starting with straight legs because they are up with shoulders back almost immediately.  I will make a point of doing your way every time.  I think I need my driver to startup a little faster as well. 

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@swbca - There are a few items where trying to copy, emulate or even think about how the .1% of people (top pro athletes) do things is counterproductive.  A person in their prime and in peak physical condition can do a lot of things others will never come close to.  Jordan comments on ways that help skiers that struggle with getting up, good items to try.  I have found being offset to the same side of the boat as your front foot seems to help, simply keeping the ski from rubbing on the rope as you get up.  I like to do that to save my handle.  You note a driver, my approach to driving is to give the skier every chance for success, from stepping off the platform to stepping back on.  If there is a failed get up, I always ask what can I do to help (no matter what the experience level of the skier is).  The role of the driver is to provide the skier with the best experience possible, I emphasize that to everybody I pull, one as I want to be considerate and considered a driver of choice and also hoping that wears off to others in the boat for when I am holding the handle.  Sometimes pull up throttling amount is counterintuitive, you might need to experiment both ways.  Also, some like to start from rest, some like to be 'in gear' before they say hit it.  Good luck, the get up can be frustrating.

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I agree with Jordan and BSBELL and DW

I am a heavier skier and for me as I am getting up I stay tucked longer than most to the point that I can feel the tail of the ski on my butt.  This technique also helps me with different drivers and some that might just "hit it"  This can crush bigger skiers

Driver technique is critical for bigger skiers.  We need to go slow and progressive on the out.  This is counterintuitive.  "big guy, go hard" NO!

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I've found that if i put my right (front) knee in the crook of my right elbow while sitting in the water holding a tight rope I can brace myself until there's enough speed to just start standing up. Plus, I don't get pulled off balance if the driver decides to idle more than necessary. 

 

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2 hours ago, DW said:

Also, some like to start from rest, some like to be 'in gear' before they say hit it.  Good luck, the get up can be frustrating.

100%!!!! Some I ski with like to get pulled through the water a bit, feel the load, and get water moving around them. I have a real different position than most, but it works every time for me. I HATE being dragged along. Just get slack out of the rope and GO! I'll get up either way but it's instant when from rest, don't even get my face wet.

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Here on the forum there is nice picture from @BraceMaker about physics of start.

In words, as I understand it )

- the pivot point of the ski is right under front boot

- pressure of water level which is above this point resists getting the ski to the horizontal  position and keeps the ski Vertical 

- pressure of water which is below this pivot point rotates ski in to desired position (minimizing back foot pressure helps this rotation)

I try to keep front boot closer to waterline, handle closer to front boot level, knees inside arms and sit on back heel during start.

so far everything is going well

 

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@OldboyII  @BraceMaker's  point sheds some light on why this a greater problem for me this season than before.  This season I was on a KD Titanium ski.  The tail of this 66" ski is narrower than the skis I was using the prior two years.  The stock binding position is also further back than my 66" D3 ION.   As @Horton said "the KD Titanium runs skis deep in the water"   The narrow tail would cause the ski to resist getting level with the deep water start.  Keeping the tip high in the water at the start as you and others have suggested sounds good.   Thanks.

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These are some great tips I'll look forward to trying next year.  I'm a bigger guy 6'2, 220, and tend to plow water, so slower starts are definitely better for me (seems counter intuitive but true).  If I put both hands palm down, I'm much more stable getting dragged without losing position, but don't seem to have the strength to get up this way (because of bad technique).  I have more strength with the baseball grip.  I'd like to practice getting up with both palms down so I can get start in gear and keep my ski in the right place.  Right now it's easier with the baseball grip to not get dragged because the ski tends to fall to one side or the other while being dragged.  I'm hoping the tips to keep the ski more out of the water so it can pivot and other heel on the butt will help make it more consistent and not so dependent on the boat driver.  These tips are also useful when teaching others. Thanks to everyone who has asked this question, and to all the replies.

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It's all about the knees! Get them right up to your chest keep your abs tight pressure on the front foot and your off to the races. If you don't have good flexibility in your hips that will give you something to work on over the winter. The tighter to your chest the knees are, the faster you will come up, the further out they are the more pressure on your low back.

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@Vernon Reeve One other tip is more for your driver. As a big dude, you aare moving against a lot of water. So, while you find it easier on a soft start, consider it a three phase start for the driver

1) in gear

2) soft start

3) progessive throttle up as you begin to rise out of the water

 

#3 finishes the job with less drag, and firms up the water under your ski. A driver that can be firm on the throttle at the right moment can help immensely. This does not mean he should matt it...nice and progressive.

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Great tips here.

Don't underestimate the effects of the shorts or tops you are wearing.  Baggy shorts that create a lot of drag will make your starts more difficult.  My wife even noted a major difference with a new top that had loose openings at the wrist.  Problem went away when she rolled them up over her forearms.

Every little bit helps!

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it's obvious this sport demographic wise has become a geriatric sport. deep water starts become more difficult as we age,  ticks me off! 

more ticked off tonight, put one hell of a handle ding on the opposite edge of my senate missing a deep up this morning... arrg!!!!@@@ another reason not to buy a new stick!! just screw it up!!!

I'll have another round of jb weld please, oh and a shot for the mental pain!!!

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On 9/27/2023 at 6:31 PM, Jordan said:

 

I know this doesn't intuitively make sense, but in teaching it this way for years I can tell you that it works.

First, your ski can only be "trapped against the rope" if your ski is fairly verticle.

This method fixes that.

Get you knees up to your chest inside your arms.

Get the ski well out of the water, with your toes on your front foot near the water's surface.

Rear foot tucked up near your butt.

Keep your arms straight, chin up.

When the pull comes on relax. 

As you feel the water push on the bottom of the ski, extend your legs and stand up. after you get used to this method, you can start standing up quicker, but for now do  it gradually.

The ski starting up higher, will immediately roll down flat on top of the surface, rather than plow, the tip will be nowhere near the rope.  The ski should be on a relatively low angle because your back foot is tucked up.

Here is a decent shot of JMac starting....

https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxOq4UofGCdmsa9vqN35MoneZTbsc68Buq?si=mgH82ZVwSGYo3VPh

 

This guy has it NAILED! You push with your legs just before the boat hits you. There’s a little timing to it but once you have the feel you can be early or late but late takes more effort to get the ski out in front of you. 

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On 9/27/2023 at 6:31 PM, Jordan said:

 

I know this doesn't intuitively make sense, but in teaching it this way for years I can tell you that it works.

First, your ski can only be "trapped against the rope" if your ski is fairly verticle.

This method fixes that.

Get you knees up to your chest inside your arms.

Get the ski well out of the water, with your toes on your front foot near the water's surface.

Rear foot tucked up near your butt.

Keep your arms straight, chin up.

When the pull comes on relax. 

As you feel the water push on the bottom of the ski, extend your legs and stand up. after you get used to this method, you can start standing up quicker, but for now do  it gradually.

The ski starting up higher, will immediately roll down flat on top of the surface, rather than plow, the tip will be nowhere near the rope.  The ski should be on a relatively low angle because your back foot is tucked up.

Here is a decent shot of JMac starting....

https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxOq4UofGCdmsa9vqN35MoneZTbsc68Buq?si=mgH82ZVwSGYo3VPh

 

The idea of pushing with your legs as the load comes on should be followed with extreme caution. Doing this method incorrectly can lead to torn hamstrings. This is how my dad tore two of the three in his front foot and ended his skiing for good (he was in his early 70s). His doctor said that water skiing starts is one of the most common way to do this and is caused by extending the front leg while getting pulled forward just too far. This was an crappy injury.

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On 9/27/2023 at 3:40 PM, swbca said:

  I can't always keep the tip of the ski in one place as the boat idles forward before I say "GO".   One of my drivers just comes back and says "NEXT SKIER".

I like to idle a little before going, and use a little of the resisitance in the water to help me compress before take off. However, if I wait too long the boat will start moving faster and faster (or the boat has a little faster idle) the ski will start moving around some. Best then to have the driver take out of gear and re-set. Same with the start, I like a slower start but if its too slow the ski in unstable.

"Next skier?"......NEW DRIVER!!!!

I saw a comment about a 3 step start progress, from a driver standpoint.....   I'd rather think of it in 1 step. A smooth acceleration to full (or at least close to it, depending on the setup, of course a turn in or island will be different once the skier is on the water.)  A slower start takes a little longer to move the throttle to full, a fast start moves throttle to full faster. I think some drivers think of a slow start as moving throttle to a 1/4 possition instead of a 1/2 position (or similar?) I like a smooth acceleration. The trick from boat to boat is feeling out any quirks in the throttle. Our '17 prostar has a spot in the low end of throttle that you really need to feather through or it will be too strong of a start. Driver really needs to use all senses to feel that out for a smooth acceleration (feel and sound of the engine.) 

As @MitchellM said, the shorts can make a big difference. I never thought about that till I forgot by swim shorts and tried to ski just in the cargo shorts I was wearing.....holy cow that was no fun. I skied a set, but those start ups wore me out. I missed a couple and wore my back out.... thankfully that was a couple years ago before my back issues were too bad. 

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3 hours ago, ScottScott said:

"Next skier?"......NEW DRIVER!!!!

The comment "Next Skier" is just friends messing with each other.  Back when a large group of Midwest skiers with a short season were highly focused on being fully prepared for the National Tournament, the worst nightmare would be to get to the Nationals and then miss a deep water start.  The official running the starting dock would say "Next Skier" or "whose on deck" 

So when practicing now, even when not competing, not having 100% confidence in your start can really get into your head.   So when one of us misses a start we might remind them that they can't do that in a tournament just to be annoying.

Edited by swbca
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13 hours ago, vtmecheng said:

The idea of pushing with your legs as the load comes on should be followed with extreme caution. Doing this method incorrectly can lead to torn hamstrings. 

Right you are. I nearly learned this the hard way recently.  Being small and  light, I used to ask for fast starts.  I would extend my legs immediately against the max displacement of water by the ski during acceleration in order to pop me up quickly and help keep water out of my face.  A few weeks ago during my typical such start I felt something pop or rip in my front leg hamstring as I stood up.  I finished my run but it hurt like crazy once back in the boat.  Fortunately we had to go out of state a couple of days later and I was back skiing in about 9 days upon our return, but with a modified get up to relieve the pressure on my still tender, tight and not fully healed hamstring.  I'm guessing I suffered micro tears in the muscle, and most certainly not a full tear.  But I doubt I'll ever return to my former technique now that I know the potential consequences.

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Well if you dont push with your front foot when pressure is applied by the boat, you’re gonna do a front flip over the front of the ski or get pulled to the handle side. NO one said do a 450lb leg press or push your legs straight. But you have to take the pressure from the boat and apply it to the ski in a positive motion to get up out of the water.

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@Beezer Instructions to people always need to be relative to what they're doing which is the struggle about things in slalom waterskiing because what you're trying to do is steer people towards an outcome.

I personally DO push on my feet, I push on my feet alot.  But I also ride a trick ski around if you've never learned to get up on a trick ski you should.  So for me I basically get in my ball, back heel in my butt, Arms straight, Head up, and as I feel the need to hold onto the handle that's right where I have enough pressure on the ski to essentially stand up.  Which is no different than doing a "submarine" start on a trick ski.  Say hit it, ball down on the ski underwater, feel the handle go tight and you can basically just stand up.  IF the ski is under you not in front of you.  And the "back foot butt" thing is just about figuring out how to make sure the ski is more under you than between you and the boat.  / vs | otherwise if you "push" on your feet you stand the ski up in the water column and then when the throttle comes on you get collapsed.

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