Victoria Sports and Recreation: Waterskiiing
Background of the Sport
Waterskiing evolved out of the desire to go fast on water, but not in a boat. While most people are content to be towed behind a boat, skimming the water on one ski or two, more advanced skiers like to test themselves on slalom courses and by performing tricks (flips, turns, etc.) either on ramps or simply on the wake of the towing watercraft. Others like to skim on the soles of their feet, without the aid of any water-skeis, though this requires boats to be moving at 50-60 km per hour.
Nowadays, the easiest way to learn it by holding onto a boom attached to a pylon in the centre of the boat. By riding beside the boat, you don't have to learn to handle the wake at the very start.
Cable skiing is very similar to water skiing except that instead of being pulled by a motorboat, the skier is pulled by an electric-powered cable system. A cable ski system operates on the same concept of the common "T-Bar" system used for winter ski lifts, with the cables 8 - 12 meters above the water's surface (to allow for the height of jumps) and you are pulled with a variable speed electric motor capable of maintaining speeds up to 68 km/h. Cable Skis can accommodate many users per hour, with most cables circulating 8-12 riders at one time.
In coastal areas, you have the choice of ocean or lake skiing. Ocean skiing provides more buoyancy and less drag, though skiing on fresh water is less harmful to equipment. Most BC lakes get choppier in the afternoon as convection currents create onshore breezes in over warming landmass. Also note, its generally against the law to ski an hour after sunset until sunrise.
Types of waterskiing & water ski competitions:
- Classic Water Skiing - competition involves three different events: slalom, tricks and jump
- Wakeboarding - evolved from different sports including surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.
- Barefoot (no skis, board…)
- Adapted - Water skis modified for individuals with a disability, and typically with the same events as water skiing - slalom, tricks and jump.
- Marathon - athletes either travel a given distance or number of laps around a circuit as quickly as possible. It is also known as water ski racing
- Hydrofoiling - incorporates the principles of aerodynamics, using underwater wings to lift the skier and reduce drag, helping experienced riders do flips and rolls 25' above the water.
For water skiing you need a boat, preferably with a motor that can go fast, in the range of 30-60 km per hour, depending on your weight and type of skis. The boat needs a crew of two, one to pilot the watercraft, and one as a spotter, to watch the water-skier. The skier communicates with the spotter using hand signals You also need a tow rope, typically out of polypropylene (not nylon) with an aluminum core handle (for floatation and durability). Water-skiers of all levels must wear a life jacket.
There are a variety of boards that you can use. Trick skis are short, oval boards without a fin, to enable 360 degree turns. Ski boards are relatively shorter and wider than normal water-skies, and your feet are strapped in sideways, like snowboards. Kneeboards are shaped like a teardrop, and you kneel on the board and are secured by a strap over the top of your legs. Wakeboards are a cross between as snowboard and a surfboard, and the board lets you skim in either direction..
There are a number of water ski clubs on Vancouver Island, blessed by year-round climate, and athletes get a choice of fresh or salt water to ski on:
Comox Valley Water Ski Association
Victoria Aqua Ski Club
Sproat Lake Bombers W.S.C.
Sproat Lake Water Sports Association
Lake Cowichan WSC
Vancouver Island RCs Waterski & Barefoot Club
Quamichan Lake @ Duncan
49ers Water Ski Club
Campbell River Eagles WSC