Boat Driving

Boat Driving

By Jeff Gilbert


  • Consistency is the key so the skier always feels the same pull and speed.

  • Have a philosophy before you get in the boat on how and where you will place the boat in the course.

  • Place left hand at 8:00 position on steering wheel and have right hand near throttle at all times. Never try to drive with two hands while in the slalom course. Causes overcompensation.

  • Never have the rope tight and pulling on the skier until the skier is in ready position and ready to go.

  • The speed around the turn island should be slow and then progressively up to speed so the skier never feels a sudden increase in the speed.

  • Have boat positioned to where after pull up, you turn slightly into course to keep rollers from going down the course.

  • Try to feel pressure on the rudder of the boat at all times. Constant pressure on rudder ensures that you can place the boat where you need to place it at all times. Don't drive the boat into position, place it.

  • Never let the skier feel an increase in speed. Always have smooth transitions.

  • Have boat level with equal spray on both sides. Level boat is easier to maneuver and to place in course when not riding up on a rail to one side.

  • Focus on entrance gates and not pre gates for the initial lineup. Look ahead down course regardless of where pre gates are centered.

In Course

  • Do not let skier pull you off line or tip the boat on pull out or turn in for the gates. Maintain a level and smooth boat all the way through the ball 1 boat guides.

  • No tipping of the boat allowed. Don't let your boat crew move. For the approach to the course is the most critical time for the skier in the course.

  • You want to feel the rhythm of the skier but more importantly you need to focus on placing the boat where it is supposed to be at all times through the course.

  • Point the nose of the boat when skier releases off the top of the second wake and into the preturn. Do not turn the boat but slightly point the nose.

  • Let the boat seem to slide down course while waiting for the skier to hook up. Called "Waiting On The Skier" instead of the boat running away while the skier is in the preturn.

  • Pylon must remain in center of course at all times.

  • When approaching each gate set, have the boat perfectly straight and in the center of the boat guide buoys.

  • Do not slide toward the skier or you will cause slack rope and skier will not have any tension in line to turn on.

  • Do not drive to opposite side of course and take rope away from skier.

  • Pay attention at 6 ball and go out of course in center so not to pull the handle out of the skier hands by driving away.

After Course

  • When skier exits course take over manually and slow down so not to wear the skier out.

  • Simple drop at each end of course while pulling back to neutral. Skier will pull out strong instead. There is no need for strong turn to the left and increase speed to pull out. Only wears the skier out.

  • Watch carefully for skiers who like to pull out to strong and possibly ski in front of and across front of boat.

  • Be ready to turn either way and control skier to your side to keep away from the boat.

Always turn boat engine off when skier is in water and near the rear of the boat or platform.

Additional Slalom Boat Driving Hints & Tips

By Tommy Harrington

  • Most important part of driving for me is outside of the course, from picking up the skier at starting dock to pre-gate, my boat has to be in the right location at pre-gate to skier gate.

  • After the skier enters the gate, I try to keep the boat in the middle of course with a little counter steer off the buoy.

  • Drive as much as you can for all ages and skill levels in differ kind of boats.

  • Try not to make any mistakes and learn from the mistakes you do make so that you do not repeat them.

  • The boat crew should respect the "skier's time on the water". No idle chit chat or talking on cell phone in the boat during the "skier's time".

  • Double check rope length changes. A quick glance is all that is required.

  • Most important tip - Balance your boat with some torque on wheel.

This is a PowerPoint presentation used to teach drivers to pull tournaments. A lot of it applies to day to day skiing as well.

AWSA Drivers Clinic PowerPoint Presentation 2019 Slalom only.ppsx