Boating Life

A Beginners Guide to Water Skiing

April 26, 2021
Ingman Marine
April 26, 2021
Ingman Marine

Getting out of our comfort zones sometimes means trying that one thing we have always wanted to but were too afraid to try. And if you have ever watched a water ski competition, or even seen some recreational skiers on your local lake…you must have pictured yourself on a set of skies.

Water skiing in Florida can be one of the most refreshing, freeing, and compelling things to do on a hot sunny day. Water skiing is fun, especially when the safety rules are respected, and the equipment is well-chosen for each individual.

What is Water Skiing?

One of the most popular water sports, water skiing, involves balancing on one or 2 skis while being pulled behind a boat or on a cable ski device. It resembles snow skiing quite a lot, the obvious difference being that it takes place on the water, instead of snow.

Water Skiing requires a sufficient run space and a smooth stretch of water. Depending on the requirements in your state 2 or 3 people must be on the boat for assistance and the skier must wear a personal flotation device.

Not only is it a popular sport among people of all ages, but it is also beneficial for your health. The amount of upper and lower body strength, endurance, and balance it takes to stand up and perform tricks on water skis will keep you in great shape!

The History of Water Skiing

One of the most popular water sports, water skiing, involves balancing on one or 2 skis while being pulled It all started in 1922 when Ralph Samuelson strapped on a pair of boards to be used as skis and a towrope made of clothesline, while his brother Ben towed him off the backend of their boat. While their story starts as far back as 1922, Samuelson was not officially credited by the American Water Ski Association until 1966. After making his initial invention in 1922 Ralph spent the following 15 years performing water ski shows and teaching the sport new obscure sport to others all over the United States.

Between 1922 and 1966 when Samuelson was credited with the invention of the sport, Fred Waller, Jack Anderson and Don Ibsen had developed and patented general use and trick skies to move the sport from forward. Dick Pope, Sr. who is often referred to as the “Father of American Water Skiing” was perhaps one of the most influential promotors that brought the ‘new’ sport from obscure to internationally known.

Proudly stationed in Southwest Florida, we are not far from Winter Haven, Florida. Winter Haven is one of the most popular water-skiing destinations in the world, widely known for its ‘chain of lakes’. Winter Haven is also the home of the Water Ski Hall of Fame, in which, all the above influencers have been inducted.

Water Sport Boats Offered by Ingman Marine

Ingman Marine is among the most popular brand when it comes to boat sales and services in the Charlotte and Sarasota counties. The family-owned, multi-location dealership has a gathered experience of over 40 years.

When it comes to water-skiing specific models, it is important to mention that we do not stock them but offer some manufacturers that provide ski tow bars or wake towers that can be used while water-skiing. However, we do still get in used water-sport models from time to time.

New Model Manufacturers offered by Ingman Marine that feature water skiing accessories include:

The good news for those taking up water-skiing? When learning how to ski you can be towed by just about any boat that offers a tie off point for the tow rope. While v-hull boats are most preferred, other models will still get the job done.

How to Wate Ski

To get started make sure you have picked out the right style of skis for the level you are at and the style of skiing you would like to do. Be sure to get the proper size to fit your height.

Safety is another important part of water skiing. You should not go water skiing if you do not know the basic safety measures. This means anything from hand signals, to starting and stopping procedures. This is a top priority for any beginner.

Getting up on Water Skis

It all begins with a deep-water start, as you keep your legs together. No need for you to worry too much at this point, as the boat will do most of the work for you. What is necessary is to keep yourself in a crouched position, legs closed, and once you are up; start straightening your legs.

It might take you a bit of time to accommodate to the perfect speed for you (around 30mph for advanced skiers), but once you do that, you can start playing around with jumps, tricks and even dropping a ski to try out slalom-style skiing.

Tips for Kids and Beginners

Learning the basics of water-skiing is probably the most important tip. Knowing the fundamental things will helps you improve quicker and with less failures.

Try not to stand up too quickly, let the water do most of the work. As you feel yourself coming onto the plane of the surface begin straightening your knees to stand up while still leaning back to propel the skis forward.

When first teaching kids to ski, it is recommended to use skies designed for kids. They will be tied together with rope to help keep the kids legs together against the pressure of the water.

Finding your rhythm is another important tip, as this will help you balance your body in a natural way.

When first trying to learn slalom-style skiing (this is where you use only 1 ski), first get up using 2 skis and as you get steady kick one ski off and place your free foot on the other ski. This will let you get the experience of single ski, skiing while still using 2 skies to get on plane. Once you have mastered the slalom-style skiing, you can then try to get on plane using a single ski.

Rules and Regulations

Florida’s boating laws include Water Ski regulations, so before getting all set, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

  1. You are not allowed to ski or aquaplane between the following hours: ½ hour past sunset, ½ hour before sunrise.
  2. It is prohibited to ski or use an aquaplaning device if you are under the influence of alcohol or any drugs.
  3. You are not allowed to water ski or use an aquaplaning device without wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved non-inflatable and wearable PFD (personal flotation device). Inflatable PFDs are not accepted for skiing or aquaplaning.
  4. The vessel’s operator who is towing someone on skis must have one of the following: either an observer who attends to the actions of the skier or a wide-angle rear-view mirror.
  5. The vessel’s operator is not allowed to pull the skier close to any fixed object or any vessel that could put him at the risk of collision.

Water Ski Equipment

You might think to yourself that “it’s just water” and there’s rather little equipment you use. While the equipment list is rather short, it is not ‘just water’ and having the proper equipment and safety gear is imperative to avoid injuries.

The most important thing you need is a life jacket, as safety at such a high speed.

The boat is another part of the necessary equipment, and it is usually recommended to get a boat that reaches a minimum of 20mph and up to 30mph. When choosing your boat, you will also want to consider a sporty model or if a recreational model with a ski tow bar will suffice.

Last, but not least, you need the skis. It is recommended to get skis made of fiberglass and buy longer skis if you are a beginner. Longer skis will ensure more stability, as they have flat bottoms and cover more surface area.

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Type of Water Skis

Combination Skis

Combination Pairs are one of the most common skis selected for its versatility with beginners, families, dual skiers, and slalom-skiers. These skies are sold in pairs where one comes with a single binding and the other ski is set up with two bindings, with all bindings being adjustable. These skis allow for more stability for beginners, the flexibility for families to share, and for slalom-skiers to be able to get up with 2 skies and drop one after stabilizing to slalom ski.

Slalom Skis

Slalom skiing is, by definition skiing, skiing with only 1 ski. So, these skis are sold as individuals. All slalom skis will have 2 bindings, 1 behind the other, allowing the skiers to secure both feet on the single board. The skis will be wider at the front and get skinnier towards the tail, allowing for stability to plane, while also allowing to make sharp slalom-like turns.

Trick Skis

The name must have said it all – trick skis are the best ones if you want to do tricks, or simply jump and spin around on the water. You can recognize them for being wide and short, and not containing any fins. Since these skis are more suitable for slides and turns, they are a bit harder to control than the rest of the water skis.

Youth/Junior Skis

Kid’s skis are much shorter to accommodate for smaller and lighter skiers. Youth ski’s for beginners will also have a removable rope or bar that tie the skis together, helping keep their little legs together, preventing them from doing the splits. These ropes are called retainers; they are generally attached to a rope, acting as a quick release, held by the observer so when the kid is level and ready to have the ‘training wheels’ removed the observer can yank the rope, effectively releasing the ski’s and allowing the kid the freedom to move their legs.

Shaped Skis

Shaped skis, also known as ‘mid-skis ’, are sold as a single pair with 2 bindings, similar to the slalom ski. However, these skis are much wider. The width allows for these skis to work best for people just trying to learn single-ski techniques. The shape of these ski’s also allows for them to work at lower speeds.

The Bottom Line

Water-skiing might not be a sport you learn in a few minutes or hours. It will likely a few trips to the lake and practice before you get comfortable with the whole process. But in the end, if you are a water junkie it is an experience that every single person should have. Besides, it will only bring you benefits, from more physical power and endurance to the sense of freedom floating across the water brings.

Buy the right boat model, get the proper sized skis, have the right rope, adjust the speed to your liking, and most importantly be safe.

Happy Skiing and Learning!

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