My best ski session ever

It’s been almost 3 months since this best ever session and I’ve hesitated writing about it. Reasons are

  • it won’t seem special for many readers and
  • to them it’ll seem like I’ve been chicken for years rather than ‘manning up’

So some background to how this day occurred. 15yrs ago enjoyed skiing behind a jet boat and then lead to buying a 2002 Malibu Response LX.
All my free skiing and course skiing was done at 46kph as I tried to get better and to finally run those 6 frustrating balls. I knew about start slow then go faster.
Made very slow progress and eventually got to point I could run most 18.25m (15’ off) passes at 46kph (28mph) but never a 49kph (30mph).
That was on a 66” HO System 8. Never tried faster as had many scares breaking at waist. Never really got the hips to handle thing nailed!
A ski coach years ago told me get the basics right first as if I didn’t, and I tried faster, I’d hurt myself. Caution won of course. So I kept with same speed.
Personal circumstances changed (earthquakes & economy) so needed to sell boat and a few years of no skiing, then a few summers recently with 5 or 6 sets per summer behind pleasure outboards using my son’s 67” HO Syndicate VT type R.

Then this summer just finished I purchased the dream, a 2003 Response LXi with injected 340 Monsoon, boom, shower, heater, tower, etc.
Also purchased a used 67” 2019 Radar Senate Pro Build. Put my mid 2000 Animal binding on it with a RTP.
Using boat on a small natural public lake (500m wide, 1500m long), many boats, generally windy as it’s in the mountains but it has a slalom course. When lack of other boat wakes allow I’d been trying course again at 46 with slow progress and tried free skiing at 49.
The Senate ski seemed to enjoy 49 more than 46 (as you’d expect!), the wake was less and I was enjoying it.
Not even close to 49 pass so settled for aiming for better 46’s in course and 49 free skiing.
Lake is long enough for 15 to 20 continuous wake crossings (when there’s not too much wake from other boats) so was improving practise and fitness.
But struggling to consistently get 6 balls at 46. Full pass just occasionally.
Continued working on position.

Then discovered the Spraymakers podcast. Most of their podcasts were confusing and really OTT for me but the Gates session made so so much sense!
It was the key to immediate recognition of my problem.
I’d been pulling out of start but not using it as a chance to try stacked position. Also I didn’t know the real reason why to pull out, just that I needed to be on left side to go through the gates.
So I was slowing down too much gliding, drifting back towards the centre and then only when slower was I trying to turn but of course I was finding it hard to turn in as the ski began sinking.
So I was always having a slow approach to wake and no speed retained after it to get wide on other side.
A bit of nerves about the wake too as I was always approaching it slowly.
I’d also fallen in the habit of enjoying cruisy long carved turns on HO Syndicate VT type R so was aiming to repeat that on the Senate.
Previously it’d felt really good to long easy turns but the podcast told me they were holding me back as loosing even more width before turning back into boat while it’s already moving away from me and leaving me no time to get into a stacked position before load built up.
So I had all the rubbish stuff going on. No start width, no start speed, slow into wakes, bending over at waist, pulling after second wake to get width, etc. Aaaaarrrgghhh!

Listened to the Gate session a few times.
Tried it.
Instantly a stacked position, arms straight, handle near hips.
Amazed how I shot up alongside boat pre gates.
Took a few sessions to learn to turn in sooner but once discovered I had time to get into stacked position and fly through the wakes.
Wake crossing becoming cut through rather than bounce or ride over.
Did some very very easy 46 full passes. Consecutive full passes :blush:
Tried same technique free skiing at 49.
So much fun and getting right up on boat after wake crossings.
Listen to Spraymakers podcast about edge changing behind boat/at second wake.
Kept at it at 46/49kph as still a few break at waist type errors.
More easy 46 passes and sometimes, even increasingly I experienced some amazing smooth wake crossing and shooting out 3 to 4 metres wider than the buoy line.
Starting to get it.
Massive smiles most sessions.

By knowing ’why’ to pull out and ‘why’ to turn before I slowed too much I now knew ‘how and what’ I needed to do.

The lake was glass (which is rare, except mid winter when it’s too cold to ski!) and we were the only boat on the lake. That’s rare as typically 1 to 3 boats/jetboats/outboards/jetskis start at the 9am lake open time.
Late autumn, it was cold and I was the only keen skier.
My wife driving, and two friends observing. Both 70’ish year old semi-retired skiers.
A couple of easy 46 full passes.
Ask for 49 free ski.
Felt so good with zero other boats on lake (for once!) and my wife driving dog bone shape so maintained flat water.
I started pushing harder and quicker turns.
Went up and down lake each way free skiing, and then as expected when pushing it, I crashed. Mild crash, no issue, felt like nothing on the smooth water.
Observer while smiling said “You’re getting a bit cocky” (for people who don’t know the phrase, cocky = showing off).
So I free skied more at 49 and pushed it even more, big lean, I assume big spray, really enjoying it while maintaining good body position.
I did do a safety let go of handle when got a little far forward on ski coming into wakes. I knew it’d be an OTF if I didn’t let go.
Observer smiling even more said “Still a bit cocky aren’t ya!”
My response was “52 please”
Wife looked puzzled as I’d never ever ever asked for that speed.
It felt fast when pulled out but as soon as I turned in it was EPIC
Ski felt alive, wake had disappeared (so much less and even softer at 52 than it is at 49) and I felt so in control, stable and effortless.
Just felt sooooo amazing!!!
I’d finally made the skiing level I’d hoped.
Skied until body tired.

Didn’t get to repeat following weekend as bad weather then weekend after frosts arrived and needed to winterise.
So pumped to repeat it next summer if that’s how wake reduces and control goes up.
I’ve spent a while wondering why I’d not increased speed years ago. Caution. Fear. Safety.
But suspect had I increased it before that day then I would have had some horrendous stacks, possibly injuries and still wouldn’t be where I finished off that day.
So come spring it’s back to 46 to do some gate pull outs and some free ski at 49 but soon after free ski at 52, and if it feels in control, stable and effortless maybe even 55 soon after.

FYI I’ve brought a used ski doc so once I get a suitable camera hoping that’ll be really helpful to self-analyse as I’m sure my style is still way off but at least I now know why and that’ll lead to how.

Amazing story, thanks for sharing. I love the Spraymakers podcast and I think it’s the best technique-related ski content available right now!

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Thanks. I’m sure if I had a lake with regular flat water and some coaching or friends who skied well I would have got there far quicker, but we all have to deal with what we’ve got.

Static photos in magazines or even watching videos of pros in correct stance hasn’t clicked with me as they’re all people doing it right but saying the why or when to do it. That’s what has made the difference. Why and when.
The when seems the more important as no chance for my body to get into correct position if there’s already the boat’s power making it impossible. The falling/moving into correct position for pullout before gates and pullout after a run gives me a chance to really feel it as it should be.
Now next summer I “simply” :joy: get into that position 9 times each pass (pullout, 6 buoys, course exit and drop)