Water skiing is a popular summer activity throughout Texas, with people flocking to lakes and beaches with skis and boat in tow. For a beginner, the thought of being towed behind a boat on a pair of skis can seem extremely intimidating, if not downright frightening. Once the boat gets started up, how will the individual even know how to stand up?
Luckily for most adventurous individuals, water skiing isn't nearly as hard as it appears. For the most part, all that it requires is a little knowledge of skiing procedures, a strong grip, and common sense enough to know when to hold on and when to let go.
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your skis fit properly. This means that they're tight enough so they’re not loose on your feet, and that you have to undo them in order to get them off. But not so tight that they're painful to wear.
Once your skis are properly adjusted, it's time to grab the tow rope and… “assume the position.” First, practice on shore or on the dock by leaning backwards slightly, keeping your head forward, your knees bent, and your legs should be under your body. Once you get in the water, assume the position again, this time with the tips of the skis protruding above the surface of the water. If you have trouble getting into this position, take your time, the boat won’t go anywhere until you're ready to go.
Once the boat begins to move, the slack will disappear from the towrope and begin working its way to your standing position. Hold your arms straight and rigid, resisting the pull of the boat with your legs. Press into the water, and use the resistance to stand in a more upright position. As the boat picks up speed, press harder against the increased resistance and you should be able to reach a full standing position.
If you have trouble getting on your feet, don't worry about it. Standing up on your skis is one of the hardest parts of water skiing. It may take a bit of practice before you get the hang of it. You'll likely fall several times before you get up all the way, and even after you're an old pro at it, you'll still take the occasional tumble. Falling is part of skiing, and, for some individuals, is a big part of the fun.
When you do fall, though, it's helpful to know the best way to fall, to prevent most injuries. As soon as you feel yourself starting to lose your balance, let go of the towrope immediately. In some cases, if you are seasoned enough, you might be able to regain your balance if you stick it out. But, for most individuals, it's better to go ahead and take a dive than be dragged face-first through the water behind a speeding boat. So, as you fall, tuck your head in and bring your knees up, curling yourself into a ball. Try to fall backwards, if you can. Curling yourself up like this reduces the amount of free limbs and extremities that will hit the water, reducing the chance of injury.
Once you've recovered from the fall, wait for the boat to circle back around to pick you up. You might find it difficult to maneuver in the water while wearing skis, so feel free to take them off and use them as floatation devices. Now that you know how water ski, as well as take a fall, don't be afraid to get back on those skis and go again.
The following are basic do’s-and-dont’s you should follow for waterskiing safety and courtesy:
o Do wear a life jacket while operating the boat and while skiing. The skier should wear a U.S.
Coast Guard approved life jacket that has a high impact rating and is designed for water skiing.
o Do have an observer on board whose only job is to watch the skier, receive signals and alert the boat operator if the skier falls.
o Do be familiar with the water skiing area, so you can avoid areas of shallow water, submerged obstructions and other dangerous situations. Also, stay clear of beaches and swimming areas, and do not purposely spray other boats or swimmers.
o Do go over hand signals with the skier before he or she is in the water.
o Do use a towrope that is at least 75 feet long.
o Do give a wide berth to fishermen and slower-moving crafts like canoes, kayaks and sailboats.
o Don’t ski when it is getting dark or is night. It is hard for the boat operator, skiers and other boats to see your boat and the skiers.
o Don’t use drugs or alcohol while operating the boat or water skiing. The substances impair good judgment and coordination.
o Don't ski within 300 feet of another vessel, or 100 feet of the shore, a dock, or swim area.
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