Picking the Right Waterski & Sizing

Here at Skiforce we do our best to break things down on each product as much as we can, so you can decipher which ski is going to suit you best. If you want to speed the process up a bit though, this will give you the basic fundamentals of what to look for in a ski that will suit you.

To ensure you have the best time out on the water, getting yourself on the right ski is key. From a basic set of combo ski's for the young ones down to replacing your old black max with something all new and fancy, this guide will help you get you on your way

Below breaks down every aspect of the ski from skier and ski type to what speed and ski size you need to benefit your skiing career the most:

Skier Type

As much as we all like to believe that we are, we're not necessarily all World Champs. So ski levels are classified into 4 levels & your early starting double skiers (we try not to make it to confusing):

Course Skier
If you're this type of skier, chances are you're probably not reading this, if you are, then you must love everything waterskiing to be reading a guide! If you're at this level you're gonna be spending your time crushing buoys in a slalom course. This type of skier has one aim and one aim only in mind, get to the next buoy and hopefully the next shortening. Course Skiers will constantly shorten lines (32' off or more) and skis at competition speeds of 34mph to 36mph.

Advanced Skier
Advanced Skiers are confident in their ability and get picky with the water conditions, sticking to early morning or late afternoon for the flattest water and occasionally taking their skills to the course. With a solid technique and knowledge of body placement they ski on shorter rope lengths (22' off or more) but are out there for the love of the sport and ski in the 30mph to 34mph range.

Intermediate Skier
Intermediate Skiers are open to all sorts of skiing and will ski in almost any condition except a maelstrom. Mostly sticking to open water and free-skiing but have or have an interest to ski the course to get some progression. The idea is to ski for the fun of it, because big soul turns are where it's at. More likely to ski at a longer line length (15' off or more)and will ski at more easy speeds of 28-32mph. The idea is not to take things to over the top and keep it user friendly because no one likes the person who takes themselves too seriously.

Beginner Skier
Beginner Skiers are pretty much just taking the training wheels off and getting their legs under them on a slalom. These skiers at taking it easy at the slowest speeds in the 26-28mph range and might still be working on their deep water starts on a single. This is to provide a ski that's going to give them stability to get those deep water starts and start their basic cutting, because greatness has to start somewhere.

First-Timers (Double Skis)
Let's not do anything brash here, the best way to get a first timer up and skiing is on a set of double's. It's nothing against anyone, but we want to make sure they are comfortable and understand the basics and this is the best way to do it.

Ski Type

Ok so we've worked you out, but maybe you know where you're at and you're looking at something specific, well here we're going to give you a quick run down on the 3 major styles of ski's that you can come across in your local pro shop

Course Ski
Much like a course skier, a course ski is designed stiff, light and responsive with the intention of getting you from point A to B to C and so forth as quick as it can. These mean machines have been made and tested by the pros to crush buoys, but it doesn't mean it has to be that 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, you still can (we won't tell anyone).

Cross-over
As it goes, the Cross-over tends to more signify an intermediate style skier or someone chasing a more agile open water ski. Normally a cross-over will carry a slightly wider profile, noticed mostly in the tail as well as a slightly softer flex pattern to allow the ski to handle smoother and release easier out of turns.

Free-ski
A ski designed with both beginners and guys who just want to get out there and lay down some big soul turns in mind, a Free-ski will normally have a noticeably softer flex pattern to allow for maximum bend and a slower release out of the turns. They also characteristically have the widest platform as these ski's are generally designed to be skied at slower speeds. The wider the platform the more stable and higher the ski will sit at slower speeds allowing you to always be comfortable.

Skier Speed

The Speed we ski at or choose to ski at depending on what type of skiing we're doing generally also has an impact on they type of ski we are chasing. The slower a boat speed the more surface area a ski will need to allow it to sit up in the water, conversely at course speed the ski can be considerably narrower. This guide is here to help work out your category depending on your comfort level or type of skiing to give you an accurate gauge of where to be at. Boat Speedo's can occasionally be out unless assisted with the use of Zero Off GPS Cruise or Perfect Pass, so keep in mind that your true ski speed may not be reflected off you boat speedo and you may need a GPS or Smart Phone.

36mph
This is competition slalom speed. You want to know what you're doing and be comfortable in a course and thinking about putting yourself in some comps at this speed. Note: You should never ski quicker than this on a slalom, this is where you should max out.

34mph+
This is the speed you will find where most confident and advanced waterskiers float around at, as its what your local competitions will be pulled at. If you skiing at this speed a stiffer ski is recommended to allow the ski to come out of turns under more load.

32-34mph
This is the speed where most skier who are just burning around the lake or river will find themselves at, whether it's due to comfort, where the boat speedo misrepresents a speed or for other reasons. This is the point where you will go slightly wider that a course ski, with around 2/10" extra width to provide greater buoyancy under the ski to still sit higher in the water and make skiing easier. 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.

28-32mh
Now to the mid range of speed, where most intermediate range skiers tend to sit, With a bit of added width again you're looking at skis around 4/10" of an inch wider than course models, where you start to fall into mid wide model skis. As with the higher speeds the width is there for surface area, creating more buoyancy and allowing the ski to sit up in the water despite the slower speed and add stability. This speed ski normally will allow you to break from turns and sit steady behind a boat, but still get some confidence and edge to edge cuts going at a comfortable level.

    28mph and Under
    This is your free-ski style speed, where Beginner or guys looking to take it easy ski at. With this speed you will be looking for 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 ski's won't roll between edges with much aggression and will provide much easier deep water starts with greater lift.

      Ski Size

      Ski size is determined by a number of factors, one being boat speed which is dictated above, the next is the weight and to a degree the height of a skier. The reason for this is you're not going to put a 60kg school kid on the same size ski as an All-Blacks Front Rower. As you put someone heavier or larger on a ski, you need to increase the ski size to add surface area for the ski to have increased lift on the water. If you look at our ski's, all of the models will have a recommended weight range based on the sizes and the speed the ski is designed to ski at. The reason behind not having an overarching size chart anymore is do with each individual ski design and width which affect the size you might choose between 2 different models. So once you have an idea of what ski models may suit you best check the size suggestions on each product page to suit you best.

      There are some instances where you may choose to go a different ski size to what the chart recommends. One main one being for adolescents who are going through growth spurts or filling out and will grow between sizes quite rapidly, in this case a size up won't necessarily hurt. Another reason is based purely on personal preference, longer skis will generally be more faster but also more stable, while shorter ski's will be more nimble or 'twitchy' but can also lead to you suffering from fatigue faster. If you're moving from a ski that you bought 15 years ago keep in mind that over time technology has changed and ski's 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 can easily work out what category you're in. Now it's down to splitting between the remaining models in your class, this comes down to the technology of which the choosing the difference between two skis that are in the same category and fit your speed, build and type you will need to figure out the correct ski design. Below will give you the main key factors that are incorporated into every ski in different ways:

      Base Concave
      Base Concave is the shape or hull on the underside of the ski that determines stability and ability to turn into your edges:
      1. Flat Spot Design: These types of designs are more prevalent on a wider body ski or Beginner style models, and are characterised by a flat spot on the base of the ski. This flat spot that rolls into a concave allows for water to flow in parallel with the ski and allow it to sit straight behind the boat with ease. This also allows for skis to turn off the base and lean at slower speeds without much resistance.
      2. 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 conversely the larger the concave between the flat spots the faster the ski will become and the harder it will edge.
      3. Full Concave Design: This concave runs the full width of the ski from edge to edge allowing the ski to initiate turns at almost just a thought. 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 you to have the strongest amount of hold in a turn, but also how much it strain that hold puts on your body. You will find that most advanced and course level ski's 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 ski's 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 can be. How this works is as you initiate a turn and come through the turn, the ski comes under load and flexes. 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. As we go to stiffer ski's the energy built up under load wants to be released more rapidly, leading to more 'spring' out of your turn and sending you across the wash faster. So what works for you? if you're pushing stiffer ski's and the ski is under load, your body is going to be also, so keep in mind if you're looking at a stiff ski you want to make sure your body can handle it, the last thing we want is an injury. Compare this to a softer ski, that is going to have considerably less load and allow for you to lean and even if you're out of position a little be able to hold those turns.

        Now 2 things lead to stiffness, core and laminates, most ski breakdowns here at Skiforce.com will tell you which ski's have what, but the basic breakdown goes as follows:

        1. Core constructions in 99% of cases will come down to a PU core or a PVC core. A PU core is both softer and cheaper to buy and mold, the advantage is a ski that is going to be easier to ski on though a touch heavier. A PVC core on the other hand is lighter, stiffer and also about 8 times more reactive than PU, allowing a ski to sit higher in the water, be more lively and pop out of those turns with more energy. (Note: PMI is now also a core used in Radar's Probuild Models, this is about 6 time more reactive than PVC and will explode out of turns)
        2. The second aspect of stiffness is the fibreglass lay up and the addition of carbon and the amount of it. Fibreglass can be applied in varying thicknesses to add stiffness, to give you an idea a ladies ski will generally have less layers of fibreglass in comparison to a mens ski. The addition of carbon will do exactly what you expect carbon to do, create more energy storage and a faster energy release for more response a a faster reaction time, you will normally start to see carbon included from the higher end intermediate range and up.
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