Speed and Safety Tips for Water Skiing


Different boat speeds are appropriate for various water skiing sports. Before getting out on the lake, you should know how to identify and set the proper boat speed for your sport, whether it’s water skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, barefooting, or jump and trick skiing. You should also adhere to the necessary safety precautions.

Selecting the Best Towboat

It’s not as simple as having the right skis and a towboat going to the right place to go water skiing. Several different elements will influence your skiing experience, and choosing the correct towboat is one of the most critical. It would help if you always double-check that the boat you’re using to tow a skier can maintain the required speeds and has a ski rope and handle. The string should be roughly 75 feet long.

Many cruising and fishing boats, such as bowriders, deck boats, cuddy cabins, and jetboats, can also be utilized as water skiing platforms. Some ski boats include v-drives (rear-mounted motors) specifically designed to create larger wakes.

Towboats with small hulls and flat bottoms are necessary for competition skiing, as most towboats have small hulls and flat bottoms to minimize wakes. Tournament ski boats will go at significantly higher speeds, with direct drive engine shafts that center their weight for the best wake shape.

Safety Suggestions

Water skiing is a potentially hazardous sport. Here are some things to remember:

Skiers must be able to swim.

  • The skier must wear a specially constructed life jacket or ski vest, which allows for movement and serves as a flotation device in an injury.
  • For recreational water skiing, calmer waters are desirable, and there must be enough space for the water skier to establish the upright skiing posture securely.
  • You should have at least 200 feet of skiing space, and the water should be at least five to six feet deep. The distance between your towboat and the docks, bathing areas, and the coast should be at least 100 feet.
  • Skiers and their boat drivers must leave ample space to prevent potential risks.
  • When a water skier is being towed, a driver and an observer must be present in the towboat. The driver keeps a steady course and keeps an eye out for obstructions, while the observer keeps an eye on the skier to keep track of their condition.
  • Before being out on the water, the skier and observer should talk about and agree on hand signals for stopping, speeding up, turning, etc.
  • Boat Speeds for Different Water Activities

The chart below shows suggested speeds for various recreational skiing activities:

Activity Boat Speed

Combo Skiing 25 mph

Slalom Skiing 19-36 mph

Shaped Skiing 20-30 mph

Wakeboarding 16-19 mph

Kneeboarding 16-19 mph

Barefooting 30-45 mph

Jump Skiing 24-35 mph

Ski Racing 60-130 mph

Trick Skiing 11-21 mph

Tubing 8-25 mph

Remember that these are recommended speeds for adults of average height and are not intended for minors. A child on two skis will need to travel at 13 to 16 mph, whereas an adult on one ski may need to travel at 36 mph. The ideal speed depends on the skier’s weight, experience level, level of comfort, and the style of skis they are using.

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