Choosing A Waterski

If you’re new to Waterskiing, or aren’t sure about the latest tech, it can be confusing to know which ski is best for you.

We’ve put together some info to help explain the differences in ski styles, so you can better understand which waterski is going to suit you. This info will give you the basic fundamentals of what to look for in a ski that will suit you and help to ensure you have the best time out on the water.

If you’re having trouble working out what ski to choose, then give us a call or drop by the store and our team will gladly help.

First Time Skiers

It’s great to have someone that is keen to try Waterskiing, so it’s best to keep it simple for their first try.

The best opiton for the first timer is use a set of Combo Skis.

This will help to make sure they are comfortable, can learn the basics and have the best chance of getting up behind the boat.

Beginner Slalom

When starting out on a single Slalom Ski, again, it’s best to keep it as easy as possible at first to allow them to get used to the feeling of the single ski.

For these skiers, start them out easy at the slower speeds. Somewhere in the 40 – 45 kmph range is good.

A wider ski is going to give them extra stability to get up from those deep water starts and allow them to start learning the basic cutting technique.

Intermediate Skier

At this level, you are starting to be able to ski confidently in a wide range of conditions and ski types.

You can start to increase the speed and using narrower skis and work on faster, more aggressive turns.

Just remember to keep skiing for the fun of it, and allow your confidence to grow.

You are now more likely to ski with a longer line length of 15′ or more, and at speeds of around 45 – 50 kmph.

Advanced Skier

The Advanced Skier is much more confident in their ability and will often get choosy about the water conditions they ski in. Usually sticking to early morning or late afternoon so they can take advantage of the flattest water conditions.

Once at this level you should have a strong technique and good knowledge of body placement. This will allow you to ski on shorter rope, at lengths of 22′ off or more.

Course / Competion Skier

Once you’re at this level you’ll be spending most of your time on the water cutting through the buoys in a slalom course.

Course Skiers will constantly work on shorten the lines to lengths of 32′ off or more, and ski at competition speeds of 54 – 57kmph.

Boat Speed

The speed you choose to ski at depends on what type of skiing you’re going to do, but generally also has an impact on the type of ski you will use.

The slower a boat speed the more surface area a ski will need to allow it to sit up on the water. Conversely, at fast course speeds the ski can be considerably narrower to allow for greater turning and control.

A boat’s speedo can occasionally be out and not give an accurate reading unless assisted with the use of Zero Off GPS Cruise or Perfect Pass. So it’s best to keep this in mind, and check your speed using a GPS or Smart Phone App.

45kmph and Under (28mph)

This is the best free-ski style speed, great for the beginner or people looking to take it easy.

At this speed it’s best to use a wider ski with a larger surface area to allow for greater buoyancy and stability, while also being softer and flexing more into and out of turns.

These wider ski’s won’t roll between the edges with much aggression, making them easier to ride and will also provide much easier deep water starts giving greater lift up and out of the water.

45 – 50kmph (28-32mh)

This is the mid range of speed where most intermediate skiers will be.

Still using skis with a bit of added width, it’s best to consider skis around 4/10″ of an inch wider than course models, where you start to fall into mid wide model skis.

As with the lower speeds, the width is there for surface area, creating more buoyancy and allowing the ski to sit up on the water.

This ski width will allow you to break from turns and sit steady behind the boat, but still give confidence and edge to edge cuts staying at a comfortable level.

51 – 55kmph (32-34mph)

This is the commonly used speed where confident skiers can get out and carve around the lake or river.

At this this speed you are best to go slightly wider that a course ski, with a width around 2/10″ extra to provide greater buoyancy under the ski so that it still sits higher in the water making it easier to use.

Ski’s designed for this speed tend to still carry considerable stiffness to allow the skier to still respond out of turns and maintain speed.

55kmph Plus (34mph)

This is the speed that most confident and advanced waterskiers will use and is what most local competitions will be run at.

Skiing at this speed requires a stiffer ski to allow the ski to come out of turns under more load and control.

58kmph (36mph)

This is competition slalom speed for highly skilled skiers.

At this level, you will know exactly what you’re doing and be very comfortable skiing in a course and putting yourself in the right position to make aggressive turns.

Waterski Types

Now you have an idea of the skier levels and can work out where you’re at, you can start to think about what type of ski you need.

Below is a overview of the three common ski styles you can choose from.

Free-ski

This style of water ski is designed for both beginners and people that just want to get out there and enjoy a smooth, easy ride.

The wider design of these give a stable platform and allows the ski to sit higher in the water at slower speeds.

A Free-ski will normally have a noticeably softer flex pattern to allow for maximum bend and a slower release out of a turn.

Cross-over

The cross-over ski tends to more suited an intermediate style of skier or someone chasing a more agile ski.

Normally a cross-over will still have a slightly wider profile, mostly in the tail, as well as a slightly softer flex pattern to give a smoother ride and release easier out of turns.

Course / Competition Ski

A course ski is designed stiff, light and responsive with the purpose of getting from turn to turn as quick as possible.

These skis have been designed and tested by the pros to for maximum performance through the buoys, but it doesn’t mean they have to be used this way.

If you still want to ski tournament speeds and ski hard on a flat morning in the open water without the pressure of hitting targets, these skis are the perfect choice for the skilled skier.

Ski Size

The ski size you choose is determined by a number of factors, one being the boat speed you ski at as outlined above.

The weight and height of a skier is also needed to be considered when choosing a ski. For example, you wouldn’t use the same size ski for someone who weighs 60kg compared to a heavier person at 90kg or more.

A heavier person generally requires a larger ski which provides more surface area to help the ski lift up on top the water.

There are some instances where you may choose to go for a different ski size to what is generally recommended.

One example is young adolescents who are going through growth spurts and still filling quite rapidly. In this case going for a  larger size won’t necessarily hurt as they will soon grow to the size suitable for the ski.

Another reason is based on skill, experience or purely on personal preference. Longer skis will generally be more faster and stable, while shorter skis are more nimble and easy to turn, but also require more effort to ride.

If you’re moving from a ski that you have had for many years, keep in mind that newer skis will likely have better technology and design which has changed  how they perform and feel. Most waterskis now have more surface area, are longer and initiate turns easier than they did in the past.

Ski Technology

Taking into account the factors above you should be able to work out what category you’re in and the type of skiing you want to do.

Below are some of the basic design elements to understand and consider when choosing the right ski for you.

Base Concave

Base Concave is the shape or hull on the underside of the ski that determines stability and ability to turn into the edges.

Flat Spot Design

These types of designs are more prevalent on a wider body skis or Beginner style models, and are characterised by a flat spot on the base of the ski.

This flat spot rolls into a concave that allows for water to flow in parallel with the ski and allows it to sit straight behind the boat with greater ease. This also allows for skis to turn off the base and lean at slower speeds without much resistance.

Tunnel-Concave Design

This model uses a concave through the centre of the ski with a flat spot either side leading into the edge allowing the ski to sit higher in the water.

Generally speaking the wider the flat spot outside the concave the more stable the ski becomes, whereas the larger the concave between the flat spots the faster the ski will become and the harder it will edge.

Full Concave Design

This concave runs the full width of the ski from edge to edge allowing the ski to initiate turns with little effort.

This style of concave also tends to give you the most lock and hold through a turn. The amount of depth in the concave also dictates how strong that hold will be, but also how much it strain that hold puts on your body during the turn.

Most advanced and course level skis will make use of a full concave design

Edge Bevel

The edge bevel is the degree of angle in which the base meets the sidewall of the ski.

Varying angles dictate how fast and reactive a ski will roll into and out of an edge. A smaller edge bevel and degree will cause the ski to pivot into an edge with speed and allow a ski to finish through a turn just as quick.

As you go down the range of skis the bevels increase and allow the ski to have an easier and mellower turn initiation and slow the turns down.

Stiffness

Stiffness is key to how a ski handles into and out of turns and the amount of stiffness will determine how aggressive the nature of the ski is and feels.

For example, this works by allowing the ski to flex under load as you initiate and come through the turn.

At the peak of your turn the ski will be under the most load and in its most flexed position. When a ski is under load, energy is stored and the stiffer the ski the faster this energy wants to be released. A softer ski will release this energy more gradually and allow for a smoother or more forgiving release out of a turn.

In a stiffer ski, the energy that’s built up under load wants to be released more rapidly, leading to more spring out of the turn and sending you across the wash faster.

So what works for you?

If you’re pushing stiffer skis and the ski is under load, your body is going to also be under more load and working harder.

Compare this to a softer ski, that is going to have considerably less load and allow for you to lean in easier and still hold the turn, even if you’re out of position a little.

Hopefully, this gives you a good understanding of what to look for when choosing a ski to suit your level and riding style. If you still need help deciding, give our team at Twister a call and we’ll gladly run through your options to help you decide.