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Bruce Parker
August 19, 1957
It's fast fun and it's taken the fancy of three million. Here a champion shows how to do it
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August 19, 1957

All About Water Skiing

It's fast fun and it's taken the fancy of three million. Here a champion shows how to do it

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Heading my own water ski schools at Dart's Lake, N.Y. and Nassau, Bahamas, I've found that water skiing is the one thing that gets everyone out. In a few short years it has become the favorite of resort-goers, and about 300,000 people are taking it up each year—three million all told by now. A few weekends spent following the instructions on the next few pages will make your vacations more fun. Keep these rules in mind: 1) Don't buy cheap skis; expect to pay at least $40. 2) Twenty-five horsepower or more is best for water skiing, but you can do with less. 3) With 25 hp or more, pick skis 6� inches wide and 5 feet 6 inches long if you weigh under 130, 5 feet 9 inches for 130 to 175, 6 feet 3 inches for more than 175. With less than 25 hp, use longer, wider skis. 4) Don't ski in shallow water or at night. Now turn page to begin your course of instruction.

Make sure that bindings fit solidly. Back should be adjustable, narrow enough to hold heel. Toes should stick out. Surface under foot should be rough for better grip.

Skier's hands should be placed at either end of 15-inch tow bar. The bridle should be about 12 inches on each side. Rope itself should be 75 feet long. Use �-inch Manila.

Raised hand means "take me in." Palm up: "speed up." Palm down: "slow." Slicing motion with hand at throat: "cut motor." Head tilted left (right): "turn left (right)."


To start, wade into waist-deep water, then curl into ball, knees against chest, arms straight. Hold skis at 45� angle to surface, tips out of water. Boat driver should slowly take strain on rope, pulling skier along slowly to help him get into position. When in position, skier yells "Hit it!" and driver gives boat burst of power to pull skier up. As skier clears water, driver should gradually speed up to 20 mph. Start in deep water floating in same position as at left. In either case, be prepared for spills at first.

As boat pulls you forward, you will rise naturally to the surface (right). Do not try to pull yourself up but keep arms absolutely straight and knees against chest until skis are almost on surface, maintaining crouch which keeps weight evenly distributed on skis fore and aft. As skis start to plane (below) come slowly out of crouch and stay in bent position, letting boat pull you along for a way until you feel securely balanced with your weight slightly back, ski tips up a little. Keep both arms straight.

Assume correct riding position (right) as soon as you feel confident. Skis should be roughly six inches apart. Keep knees slightly bent to throw upper body back at an angle of about 10� and keep tips of skis up. Do not bend at hips or waist but keep back straight, shoulders thrown back and elbows straight. The erect riding position is much less fatiguing than the half crouch that many un-instructed skiers seem to maintain permanently. When the time comes to land, approach parallel to the dock.

Correct starting consists of easy-to-follow steps, and yet at least half of the beginners make one or more of the above incorrect moves. Have someone watch to see that you don't make these errors. Most common is pulling up on rope (upper left); this makes skis shoot out from underneath, throws skier on back. Arms should stay straight, and skier should not try to bring himself to surface of water until speed of boat brings him up naturally. Holding skis at too steep an angle to surface (left) may prevent boat (especially low-power outboards) from bringing skier to surface and either drags him along submerged or pulls him between skis. Standing up from crouch too soon (above) throws skier on his face while his legs do a split. Remember: if you fall, throw tow bar away before you hit the water. The boat will come back.

Simplest trick in water skiing is to leave wake of boat, ride out to side and then re-enter wake. To leave (upper left), push off from ski nearest boat and head out sharply from boat's path (at least 45�), leaning at least 10� away from boat. Turn up ski edges nearer boat about 15�. Relax knees so that you go smoothly over edge of wake instead of banging into the water and perhaps tripping yourself. Re-enter wake at sharp angle to minimize the pull exerted by edge of wake. Do not ride too far out to side of boat or you will overtake it and get slack rope. To re-enter wake by jumping (left), go into crouch, pull up on rope for added speed. As ski tips hit edge of wake (above), skier springs into air, bouncing off the edge.

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