Category Archives: Water Skiing

Why One Should Take Up A Watersport

It’s safe to say that summer is the season to go out, be adventurous and try something new!

Floating around in a garden paddling pool is great and all… but how many times can you handle the children jumping on you, or turning the water a different shade before you want to “accidentally” puncture the side?

This article is here to throw you a summer lifeline by giving you the ins and outs of why one should take up a watersport!

It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are or even what current fitness shape you are in. Here at Tallington Lakes we host numerous different sports that are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Being a boat driver and wakeboard instructor, I can assure you there is no greater feeling in watersports than when you first get up on water skis or a wakeboard.

water skiing tallington lakes

Water-Skiing

Water-skiing involves the use of two separate skis whilst being towed behind a boat. As you progress in your skill, you learn how to mono-ski by only using one ski. Finally, once you have conquered the turning and stability on one ski, you will be able to slalom through our course and look exactly like the guys on our posters! (who doesn’t want that).

If that doesn’t convince you to give it go, then here are a few benefits I pulled from “Health Fitness Revolution”:

  • Increased Balance and Core Strength: getting up on the skis- and staying up- require you to develop both your balance and core strength.
  • Resistance Training: water skiing forces you to hold yourself up and keep going using resistance. It works core muscles, arm muscles, leg muscles, and all the muscles around them.
  • Easy on the Joints: Water skiing uses just about every muscle in the body without wearing down joints because it is all body weight resistance in free range of motion.
  • Meditative aspect: Being on the water, much like in sailing, can have a calming effect on the mind and forces you to focus on the task at hand, forgetting about the day to day stresses and worries. Not to mention that the endorphins from being active will keep you happy and healthy!

wakeboarding tallington lakes

Wakeboarding

The best way to describe wakeboarding is essentially by saying it is a snowboard on water… minus the snow. Just like water-skiing, you are pulled behind a boat. The way in which you progress in wakeboarding is by learning how to “pop” the wake of the boat to achieve “gnarly air man” (a term commonly used by boarders).

Rest assured it is a fantastic feeling to be able to glide smoothly across the water, whilst also learning how to soar through the air performing 180s or 360s!

Again, if that didn’t convince you, my friends at ‘Health Fitness Revolution have these benefits to persuade you:

  • Strengthens arm and leg muscles: When you wakeboard you have to flex, resist and hold positions for periods at a time. Often you also have to build on these held positions and then explode or move from these static flexed positions to execute tricks and techniques.
  • Improves flexibility in the hands and feet: All the jump and turns performed while wakeboarding require hand and foot flexibility to avoid injury. Being agile and nimble on your feet will carry over to everyday activities.
  • Improves reaction times and versatility: With sudden changes of direction and position required, especially based on the boat’s direction and the shift in waves, regular practice improves reaction time and ability to adapt to differences in the water, direction, etc.
  • Develops hand-eye coordination and balance: Stability and balance are the foundation for wakeboarding, so core strength is a key component to this sport. Also, many of the tricks require fast hand switches, rotations, and jumps — all of which require hand-eye coordination and balance.

Wakesurfing

We have lakes, but they are no ordinary lakes. For here at Tallington Lakes we have the power to create an almighty tsunami behind our boats. This tsunami will release the inner surfer dude inside you just dying to rad on out. If skiing or wakeboarding seem a little too strenuous, then wake surfing is for you! It is exactly as it sounds, using the smaller version of a surfboard on a boat wake, in order to continuously glide and surf around the lake!

Once you have learnt to comfortably get up on a wakesurf, you will look the epitome of cool as friends, family and passers-by look at you in awe.

Kneeboarding

We understand that these activities may look daunting to a young child which is exactly why we offer the option of kneeboarding. This is great for children who are less confident on the water and is a fantastic way of slowly building them up to water-skis or wakeboard.  A kneeboard is similar to a body board which many use in the sea. To start, you lie on the board and wait for the boat to slowly pull the board to speed. Once the child feels comfortable they will move to a kneeling position on the board, then simply hold onto the handle and enjoy the ride!

So… Water you waking for?  Come down to Tallington Lakes and try something new!

Thanks Adam (Boat Driver and Wakeboarding Instructor)

 

 

 

 

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Hard-Shell Or Rubber Water Ski Boot (Binding)

The world of slalom water-skiing is a vast one when it comes to choosing the most high performance boots. The most regular question I get asked about bindings is “should I use a hard-shell or a rubber water ski binding?” The answer to this question is that you should use what you feel comfortable with. However determining this is easier said than done!

Rubber Water Ski Boot (Binding)

I started off my water-skiing life with a traditional rubber binding. This binding was perfectly suitable for learning how to perform deep-water starts, crossing the wake from side to side and water skiing comfortably on a slalom ski in a recreational environment, with no buoys to worry about.

When I was introduced to the slalom course, I swapped my traditional rubber binding for a HO Animal Boot (Binding). This boot supported me through learning the course and it was ridiculously comfortable! The binding still continued to support me when I increased the speed at which I was being towed through the course. By the end of last season, when I was still using the HO Animal Boot, it was carrying me through the course at a confident 36mph. The Animal Boot is a very comfortable binding because it’s not overly tight; however despite this the boot still gives excellent support around the ankle and heel of the foot – due to the insole of the boot. Over time the insole of the boot moulds to the contours of your foot, giving you the same feeling through the boot every time. Due to the lacing system on the HO Animal Boot, it is quick and easy to slip on and off which is a great asset, especially if you’re itching to get in or out on the water! Just a simple squirt of some boot slime and you’ll slip straight in there!

ho rubber water ski boot
The HO Animal Boot, it was carrying me through the course at a confident 36mph.

Hard-Shell Water Ski Boot

As much as I loved the HO Animal Boot, I decided to give the hard-shell option a whirl. The whole system was quite complex to set up once the releasing mechanism was bolted onto the ski. However, despite racking my brain for around two hours figuring out how it worked, I finally sorted it and found myself standing on the dock clutching my handle ready to water ski. I won’t go into all the details of that first set with the hard-shell because it would be rather embarrassing; but I will say I spent more time in the water than on top of it!

Despite this I persevered with the hard-shell. It is very different from the Animal, primarily because to hard-shell has a more snug-fit around the foot due to the plastic outer shell. This has often given me an aching sensation in my foot if I have over tightened the binding. However if the hard-shell is correctly tightened , this isn’t such a problem. Personally, I find the hard-shell a confidence-inspiring boot, allowing me to attack the wakes that little bit more.

water skier hard-shell boot
Personally, I find the hard-shell a confidence-inspiring boot, allowing me to attack the wakes that little bit more.

Overall both the HO Animal Boot and the hard-shell are very good bindings. However there is a huge difference in price. Considering the Animal provides me with great performance at those higher speeds and shorter rope lengths, just like the hard-shell, it certainly the cheaper option. This is often found with most rubber water ski boots compared to the hard-shells.

Luckily for you, the Tallington Lakes Pro Shop stock the HO Animal Boot and many other quality boots, so I would certainly consider looking at these to gain a better performance and save those hard earned pennies before you dive into the complex world of a hard-shell! I hope you all have a good, injury free, start to the season!    

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When Should I Start My Water Ski Season?

Half to three quarters the way through the ‘off season’, where a lot of skiers have retired from the water for the winter, many of them are itching to return to the sound of spray falling, boats running and wakes lapping the banks. This urge leads them to the question of ‘when should I start my water ski season?’ 

The official beginning to the British Water-Ski Season is the 1st April, however as we all know, the water temperature and weather at this point in the year isn’t exactly for jumping around in shorts and impact vests! I tend to step into my first set in the middle of March, wrapped in layers and the same thought goes through my mind….’Jeez I can’t feel my feet!’

So how does a skier or water lover stay relatively warm and safe in the early season I hear you ask?! Well there are key ways in which this is possible.

water skier wearing a wetsuit
Wetsuits are great pieces of equipment that can keep you warm during these early season sessions.

Wetsuit

Wetsuits are great pieces of equipment that can keep you warm during these early season sessions. However finding and deciding upon the best wetsuit for yourself and the conditions in which you are skiing in can be a daunting task. Luckily Tallington Lakes Pro Shop have a wide range of wetsuits for all water temperatures, along with members of staff who are keen to help select a perfect fit!

Warm-Ups

Personally I believe warm-ups are very important, too, especially in colder conditions. I tend to take part in some pulse raising activities followed by some dynamic and static stretches just before I’m about to start my set. This can help prevent injury when on the water and can contribute to staying warm in the early season. One thing is for sure, if your body is uncomfortably cold when skiing, injury is twice as likely to occur.

Take An Easy Set

When stepping onto the water for the first time in the new season, take an easy set! For example if the previous season your personal best was four buoys at 36mph/58kph, you don’t want to be trying to water ski at those speeds straight out the block. Never be afraid to knock the speed down to a more comfortable velocity. This will help you find the rhythm of the course, allowing you spend more time on top of the water rather than in it.

These are just a few examples of how to keep warm and safe in the early season. Whenever you decide to jump into the waters of the United Kingdom, I hope you have a successful and fun-filled water ski season!

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Slalom Water Skiing

For many years slalom water skiing has been growing in popularity with it now appealing to a much wider audience due to the numerous locations available throughout the UK. Here at Tallington Lakes we have a man made world class competition level slalom course to cater for beginner’s right through the seasoned professionals.

Slalom Water Ski course at Tallington Lakes
Slalom Water Ski course at Tallington Lakes

Many people enjoy slalom skiing around a course rather than just ‘free skiing’ as it is much easier for the individual to measure progress, important for competitively natured people.

Each competitor begins skiing with a 75ft slalom rope at the minimum specified boat speed for the certain division they are in depending on age. For more experienced skiers they start at a higher speed and shorter length rope. To complete a pass the skier much pass through the orange gate buoys, complete turns around the outside of the six orange turn buoys before returning through the end orange gate buoys.

Boat Speed

The boat speed is linked to your division/group and ability which starts at 15.5mph and reaches 36mph for pro level skiers. In any slalom competition after a skier completes a pass the speed is increased by 2mph until the speed reaches 36mph for men and 34mph for women and veterans. Then to increase the difficulty the rope length is then shortened one increment for each completed pass until he/she misses a buoy or falls.

Rope

You will probably hear people talking about the word ‘off’. Basically this means the rope length taken away from the full 75ft length rope i.e. skiing a 60ft rope length is called ’15 off’.

Loop Color Meters Feet Feet Off
Neutral 23 75 0
Red 18.25 60 15
Orange 16 53 22
Yellow 14.25 47 28
Green 13 43 32
Blue 12 40 35
Violet 11.25 37 38
Neutral 10.75 35.5 39.5
Red 10.25 34 41
 Black 9.75 32 43

Scoring

The table below shows the different coloured loops found in tournament ropes in relation to the length and also provides the ‘off’ values. When competing in a slalom competition the aim is to gain the highest amount of credits, I will now try to explain how it works.

For each successfully completed pass you are awarded six credits, one for each turn buoy, and you gain more credits each time you complete a pass at either a higher speed or shorter rope length, until you miss a buoy or fall.  A complete pass, is when the skier leaves wake, goes around the buoy and returns to the wake.  If a water skier decides to start at a higher speed or rope length, for their class, they will receive all credits for the preceding passes despite not completing them.

You will notice below, the world record includes a half buoy. A half buoy is when the skier goes round the buoy but doesn’t make the wake.

Slalom Water Ski  Course Facts

In total there are 26 different coloured buoys (four green pre-gate buoys, four orange gate buoys, six orange turn buoys, 12 yellow boat lane markers)

The six orange turn buoys are 37.5ft from the centre of the course.

At ’38 off’ the rope no longer reaches the buoys so the skier has to move their body to get around the buoy.

At the maximum ’43 off’ the rope is 32ft long which equates to being 5.5ft inside the turn buoys.

The world record is an amazing 2½ buoys at  ’43 off’ which was achieved by Nate Smith; something for us all to aspire towards 🙂

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A Guide to Water Ski, Wakeboard and Surf Ropes

The ropes used for powered water sports will vary from different construction methods to materials used. If you’re new to the sport you might have thought to yourself, ” why not just use some cheap blue building rope”. Well this guide to water ski, wakeboard and surf ropes will explain!

Water Ski Ropes

Not many people know that water skiing started back in 1922 when Ralph Samuelsson thought if you could ski on snow why not water. He and his brother experimented for many days until they discovered the trick to water skiing was to lean backwards, from this day water skiing was born and has developed into the well known sport it is today.

With water skiing the ropes are different in the respect they are rarely one continuous rope (unless beginner ropes), instead competition ropes come in 75ft lengths with either 5, 8 or 10 sections. These sections can be removed to shorten the length of the rope as you progress and also gives the ability to score higher in competitions with a higher ‘off’. To help make section identification simpler some ropes have ID sleeves and are colour co-ordinated; perfect for fast adjustment. A five or eight section rope will accommodate most abilities.

HO 5 section water ski rope and handle.
HO 5 section water ski rope and handle.

Water skiing ropes tend to stretch a little more than wakeboarding ropes as this stretch acts as a shock absorber, when the skier crosses the wake in between turns. Therefore these ropes are generally made from polypropylene but some riders still prefer no stretch Poly E ropes which are also available. The higher the weave number the less stretch it typically gives due to being stronger.

Unlike wakeboarding handles water skiing requires a smaller handle normally between 11-13 inches due to not performing aerial spins. To aid beginners with deep water starts companies introduced the deep V handle which gives the ability for the ski to be held upright whilst being pulled out of the water; something that many beginners struggle with.

Handle ergonomics is becoming extremely important for many riders. Water ski handles are now made from numerous materials from carbon to aluminium; along with varying EVA foam thicknesses and textures which is all down to personal preference.

Wakeboard Ropes

For many years surfing the waves at the beach has always been a favourite amongst holiday makers and enthusiasts. Throughout that time some were towed behind boats which lead Tony Finn to develop the skurfer in 1985, which made way for the development of the wakeboard and its ropes.

It’s useful to know wakeboard ropes should have a very small amount of stretch or none at all unlike water ski ropes;  this property helps performing aerial tricks easier as you progress through the sport. Numerous technological developments have allowed wakeboard ropes to now be made from three materials:

Minimal stretch Polyethylene rope
Zero stretch Spectra rope
Zero stretch Dyneema rope

Liquid Force dyneema rope and handle.
Liquid Force dyneema rope and handle.

The cheapest of the three Polyethylene is readily available and is seen as a forgiving rope perfect for beginners due to having a 2-3% stretch under normal load giving the effect of a shock absorber perfect for any beginner rider.

Spectra is an industry favourite with many riders due to its unique properties. Spectra rope is ultra strong,  10 times stronger than steel in fact but remains lightweight as well as being extremely durable and will float preventing any unwanted propping!

Dyneema is similar to Spectra in being extremely strong outperforming many other synthetic ropes, but has the ability to resists both UV and salt water adding to its already high durability rating.

Selecting the right rope length, like getting the right sized shoe, is extremely important especially so as a beginner. The ideal length to start at is 65ft which can be shortened with the normal 5ft sections if you’re having trouble clearing the wake and as you develop the skills for aerial tricks you can lengthen the rope up to 75ft giving you greater ability to pick up speed as well as giving you more air time.

Similarly to water ski handles, wakeboard handles are made  from numerous materials.  Unlike water ski handles wakeboard handles are much wider 13-15 inches to allow passing of the handle behind your back whilst performing aerial tricks.

Wake Surf Ropes

Wake surfing if you’re unsure is surfing the wake of a boat, for this many people use fat sacs or the boats ballast system to fine tune the wake size. Due to requiring a slightly larger boat this is the least popular sport in comparison to water ski or wakeboarding but the popularity is steadily rising with the development of boat designs.

Straight Line knotted surf rope.
Straight Line knotted surf rope.

The ropes used for wake surfing are about 24ft or less in length due to the wake being extremely close to the boat. The ropes have numerous knots, EVA floats and sometimes handles to make it easier to move up and down the rope to find the perfect ‘sweet spot’ on the wake. Poly E or polypropylene are the main materials used for wake surf ropes so you have the best of both worlds a little stretch poly E rope or more stretch with the polypropylene.

It’s also important to note that ropes designed for any of the above water sports are not suitable for towing inflatable toys. Tow ropes are categorised based on the amount of riders/ weight of riders to provide adequate breaking strength.

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Trick Water Skiing

Seen amongst water sport enthusiasts as the most technical water ski discipline due to the variety of tricks performed. These tricks are performed on small oval shaped water skis with advanced skiers using one ski whereas beginners use two for extra stability.

obrien pro trac trick water skis
O’Brien Pro Trac trick water skis; advanced skiers will only use one ski.

Trick Water Skiing Competition

Rather than a set course trick skiers are given two 20 second runs in which they will perform a variety of tricks. The first pass is for hand tricks (surface turns, rotations and flips off the wake) and the second pass is for toe tricks (wake rotations and turns) using only your foot to hold onto the handle.

In relation to scores, tricks cannot be repeated with each trick being assigned a points value. The most points overall from both runs wins which is determined by a panel of 5 judges.

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Ernie Ward World Champion Water Skier

World, European, British – he’s a champion! Ernie Ward, Tallington Lakes’ resident water skier, was a true champion winning many water ski titles during his water skiing career.

Ernie started to water ski late in life at the age of 42, after seeing a sixty-year-old women have a go in Ibiza, and dominated the veteran class. In his time Ernie won over eighty National and International titles. Ernie held the British title for five consecutive years; it may have been six but he didn’t compete in the sixth!

ernie ward world champion water skier newspaper cutting
Ernie Ward is pictured with the World Cup trophy he won in Sicily 1989.

Ernie spent his time between ‘the home of water skiing’ Florida, USA and living above the Pro Shop at Tallington Lakes. Ernie lived and breathed water skiing and was instrumental in developing the water skiing facilities here at the lakes. Ernie was part of a team that successfully brought the 1988 World Veteran Championships to Lincolnshire.

Ernie water ski jumped until he was 70, and contiuned to ski until 77. Even after his career was over he was still enthusiastic about the water skiing facilities as he was when he laid the first slalom course, here at Tallington Lakes

Ernie was a quiet and unassuming man, who amassed a huge collection of titles and trophies. His drive and enthusiasm for the sport is missed in the water skiing community. Describing water skiing Ernie said “it’s a family sport that anyone can learn”. He loved to get kids involved in the sport he was so passionate about!

BWSW‘s Director of Excellence Nick McGarry said of Ernie Ward.

“Ernie was a winner and a leader, no doubt about that. He was also one of those very special, yet rare people that can enthuse and inspire others just by being himself.

As a youngster you always wanted to ski well if he was at the tournament. He always noticed how you had got on and not just for a few favorites but all the youngsters. Quick to put an arm around you if you had suffered a disappointing run and offer some quiet words of encouragement you would not want to earn his disapproval for anything less than good behavior.

A naturally funny man, he was so welcoming to the newbies that came into the Tournament Scene. A terrific character who was generous with his time and knowledge. He once said to me, when I had just been very harshly disqualified from my second trick pass by an over zealous chief judge “Always listen to what someone has to say. The least you will find out is that they don’t know what they are talking about”. An absolute gem of wisdom delivered perfectly to soften the blow, just for knowing him!

We owe him a debt of gratitude which is best served by continuing to service our great sport as he did.

So I am honored to be able to Judge in his Competition.”

The Ernie Ward Memorial Cup is an annual reminder of the man, his achievements, and the development of the water skiing facilities here at Tallington Lakes! The trophies awarded on the day are from Ernie’s collection, because as his widow, Jeanie, explains “he always wanted to put something back into the sport”.

Ernie Ward 1925 – 2010

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Water Ski Jumping

As a water sports enthusiast you may have heard about London Jump Night which  includes the worlds best in Water Ski Jumping. You’ll not only be amazement at size of the jump but the speed at which they hit the ramp. Unlike slalom and trick skiing the main aim of jump skiing is to spend the longest period ‘out of the water’ in trying to achieve the maximum distance possible from the ramp.

For maximum stability whilst on the water/ramp, ski jumping involves two long skis which are both wide and equipped with tail fins. As to achieving the longest distance you might think why not just increase the speed but to ensure fairness a rule has been written stating a maximum speed for each competitive division (age/gender) so is solely based on the skier’s individual performance.

To help increase the speed many jumpers have varying degrees of ‘cut in’ from the slowest single, to three quarter and the fastest being double cut. Utilising this technique a male jumper can achieve speeds of more than 60mph at the ramps base with a jump more than 240ft off a 6ft ramp whereas women jumpers can jump over 170ft from a 5ft ramp.

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Water Ski Fin Settings

The fin on a water ski can be moved to a wide range of positions to make the ski react differently when water skiing. Here is a guide to what effect moving the fin will have, but as always we recommend getting expert advice – like speaking to #Brown.

Water Ski Fin Adjustment

If you move the fin backwards it can make the water ski feel longer, and moving it forward will make the ski will feel shorter. The fin can also be adjusted to be deeper or shallower in the water, which will effect the amount of tail slide you want the ski to have in the turn. Adjusting the leading or trailing edge of the fin can also improve how the ski turns on the 1,3,5 side or the 2,4,6 side of the slalom course.

radar vapour water ski fin settings
Example of fin settings for the Radar Vapour water ski.

A water ski fin can also come with a foil or wing. This is used to help you slow the ski down ready for the ski to turn. The foil does not become effective until the water ski is travelling at speeds of 34/36mph; so any adjustments are only useful for expert skiers.

For the beginner water skier, both slalom course and free ride skier, we would recommend leaving the fin at the factory settings; and learning the correct technique, including how to slow the water ski down , before making any adjustments.

 

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What Size Water Ski Do I Need?

This guide will help you decide what size water ski you will need to get the best from your water skiing!

The size of water ski will depend upon your weight, height and ability. For example if a water skier was on a ski that was too small and skiing at a slow speed; the ski would not support them and they would start to sink. Likewise if the ski is too large the ski will sit high on the water and it will take too long to turn.

The width of the water ski can make a big difference too; as a general rule (but not in all cases) a wider water ski is suited to helping people learn and develop their water skiing because it helps them get up on top of the water.

Water Ski Sizing

The table below should be used a guideline in purchasing your water ski, but with most things it is not an exact science. If you need any assistance please call 01778 381154 and ask for #Brown.

26-30 mph 30-34 mph 34-36 mph
80-110 lbs 63-64″ 62-64″
95-120 lbs 65-66″ 63-64″ 63-64″
115-140 lbs 65-66″ 63-64″ 63-64″
135-160 lbs 67-68″ 65-66″ 65-66″
155-180 lbs 69″ 67-68″ 67-68″
175-200 lbs 69″ 69″ 67-68″
195-220 lbs 72″ 69″ 69″
215 lbs and up 72″ 72″ 72″
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