How to Setup Your Slalom Waterski

For beginner and intermediate skiers an out of the box waterski is perfectly sufficient.  It will get you the performance you need and not cause any issues.  However, for advanced skiers you will want your slalom ski finely tuned.  This allows you to get the optimal performance from the ski.  

 

Why You Want to Make Adjustments?

Because of how precise and finely tuned Waterskis are made to be any small adjustment greatly impacts performance on the water.  Ranging from height of the tip of the skis above the water to speed of deceleration when approaching a turn and even how short turns can be.  It may not sound like much but every little alteration will impact how that ski feels on your feet when out on the water.  

What Can be Adjusted

On a water ski there are 4 main components that can be adjusted or changed: 

  • Ski Length
  • Binding Position
  • Fin Setup
  • Wing Setup

 Ski Length

The first item that should be considered is length of your slalom ski.  Just like Wakeboarding and Wakesurfing your weight impacts the length of ski you should be riding.  Additionally you should consider your ideal boat speed.  

Use this chart to identify your ideal ski size:

waterski_size_chart

Binding Position

The binding position impacts a lot about how a ski performs.  The further forward the binding is the longer a turn will take to complete and the lower the tip will dip down during a turn.  With a binding that is further back turns will be shorter and the tip will raise higher above the water during a turn.

How to Adjust the Binding Position

Both the front and back binding are mounted to a plate that will allow you to adjust the positioning.  To move the binding forward or backward remove the mounting screws and slide the binding into the new position to reattach the mounting screws.  

Fin Setup

The fin is a complicated part of the waterski.  It can be put in many different orientations to greatly change your skiing experience.  It can move forward and backward, up and down and the front of the fin can move up and down to increase the length of the fin.  When in doubt leave the stock settings as any small changes can really change your performance.  

Additionally when making adjustments make them one at a time so that you can gauge what impact it has had on the performance.  If you do not like it revert to stock settings and change another setting.  

Forward - Backward

Moving the Fin Forward:

  • The place where the water breaks is further back (it should be under your front foot)
  • Ski rotates less at the end of a turn
  • Tip of the ski lifts at the end of the turn
  • Shorter turns are easier
  • Ski feels like a smaller ski

Moving the Fin Backward:

  • Moves the water break forward
  • The ski can handle more angle
  • The ski bites harder at the end of a turn
  • Shorter turns are harder
  • The ski feels like a larger ski
Up - Down

Moving the Fin Up (shallower fin)

  • Moves water break back
  • Allows Ski to roll over more
  • Smaller radius turns
  • Speeds up edge change
  • Decrease tail hold
  • Decrease acceleration out of the turn

Moving the Fin Down (deeper fin)

  • Moves water break forward
  • Holds more angle
  • Larger turns
  • Ski feels larger
Front of Fin Up - Down

Moving the Fin Up (shorter fin)

  • Moves water break back
  • Carries more speed into turns
  • Smaller turns are easier
  • Reduces tip pressure at the end of a turn
  • Able to hold less angle through wakes

Moving the Fin Down (longer fin)

  • Moves water break forward
  • Increases deceleration into a turn
  • Smaller turns are harder
  • Hold more angle through wakes

Wing Setup

The wing angle controls deceleration before a turn.  With a greater wing angle the ski will decelerate harder.  This will help to minimize slack rope on turns.  

A wing angle gauge is used to set the angle and usually ranges from 6° to 12°.  Use the wing angle mounting screws to adjust the wing angle and achieve your optimal angle.  

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