Competition Ski Boat

Competition Ski Boats
By Lisa Renee Sherman

When the enjoyment of water sports crosses over from weekend pleasure to competition the boat of choice makes a huge difference. For individuals that dabble in water sports for fun and recreation, sacrifices can be made for the benefit of cost or versatility. Once an individual chooses to take it to the next level the competition ski boat in essence becomes their partner, and the performance is just as significant as their own.

To understand what aspects make a good competition ski boat, one must first understand the desired result. Currently there are nine main areas of competition. The USA Water Ski Association lists them as Three Even Water Skiing, Show Skiing, Collegiate Skiing, Wakeboarding, Barefooting, Ski Racing, Hydrofoiling, Kneeboarding, and Disabled Skiing. While each of these areas of focus might require subtle changes in the desired result, they do share several common factors. The “primary wake” and the “working table” area.

As the boat moves forward in the water it leaves a trail of turbulence in the water behind it. In simple explanation, this turbulence is regarded as the “wake”. The “primary wake” is ideally a pair of wakes that extend from the stern of the boat in a perfect V-shaped pattern. Typically, most water skiing occurs within the “primary waves”. This area is regarded as the “working table”. When focused on skiing the smoother the “working table” is the better.

The size of the primary wake can be very significant when tricks or stunts are part of the event. The skier must cross over the primary wake in order to perform the tricks or stunts. With this understanding, the primary wake becomes the launch pad for the actual trick or stunt. Most trick performers prefer a primary wake of only about twenty inches in height, with a twenty degree angle on the horizontal inside of the wave and a thirty degree angle on the horizontal outside of the wave.

It is very important that the primary wake is maintained for some length of time for the safety of the athlete. Since the primary wake is the launch pad for the stunts, subtle changes in height, angle, or turbulence can cause extreme danger for the athlete. There are specific aspects regarding the design of the ski boat that can drastically alter the quality and form of the primary wake. One major area of concern is the size and design of the hull. The quality and shape of the wake is determined by the hull of the boat. The size of the hull and how deep it sets in the water are the main aspects of concern.

Every competitor would love for the ideal perfect weather conditions for every run, but unfortunately this isn’t realistic. Since competition ski boats have to pull every competitor throughout the exact set obstacle pattern regardless to weather conditions, tracking and turning abilities are another main focus. These courses must be identical for every competitor in that event, in both pattern and speed. The change of weather is rarely taken into consideration.

It is important that competition ski boats produce and maintain a quality primary wake over an extended amount of time. Since secondary wakes can cause inconsistency and harm when performing stunts and tricks, it is important that there is the least amount of turbulence as possible outside of the primary wake. The desired ski boat should be able to function with such a high level of performance time and time again.

Most competitors will acknowledge that the competition ski boat is one of their partners. Much time and research should be taken into considering what qualities are most important for the events that a competitor will be entering. Each of these events requires slightly different ideal performance environments, which all are important in the selection of the competition ski boat.

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