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Slow Boat Time, Long Rope, Narrow Balls or Weave?


Horton
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@ColeGiacopuzzi and I were talking today about the differences between Slow Boat Times, Long Ropes, Narrow Balls or Driver Weave. The context was not about cheating but how to learn the next pass.

 

I have skied with ½ loops and I can BANG out 36.5 passes all day but 38 is still a special challenge.

 

I was once in the boat when @twhisper was giving @ColeGiacopuzzi a MASSIVE weave at 41 off to teach him the feel of the pass. I though Terry had lost his mind until he explained what he was doing. I will let Cole explain but his first reaction to the subject was that weaving is the best way to help. @theboardingschool I am curious on your view of this.

 

I think a lot of skiers use slower speed as a learning tool. I also know skiers who ski fast for easy passes and then actual or a tiny bit slow at the harder passes.

 

Narrow balls? To my knowledge no one does this unless they are actually cheating. Personally I want find an easy and fast way to move my balls in by about 9” just to see the impact. If it lets me learn to be calm and composed at a shorter line MAYBE this would be a good tool to learn that next pass.

 

 

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Good question @horton. IMO, the best way to learn a new short line length is to have the driver weave and slowly lessen the weave, IFF the driver is very skilled, in sync with the skier, and you can use the same driver the majority of your sets. The problem is very few of us have the luxury of such a skilled driver. At 35/38/39, the weave effect is HUGE.

 

Second best is to have the driver keep as straight as possible (i.e. drive normally), reduce the speed and slowly creep it up to actual. This is the best option for the majority of the ballers.

 

I have not experimented with the half loops, but 38 3/4 doesn't seem like a logical way to learn 39. For 22/28 it may be a viable option, but the progress at that level, I still think slowing down is a better option.

 

*for the non-geeks IFF = If, and only if

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I don’t find a half loop is beneficial, the angles in the pass will be different. I tried with Andy Mapple’s recommendation to try replacing 35 with 36 or 36.5 off, dont make 38 easier make 35 harder to reduce the metality of trying to hard or rushing 38. This was some help. I do not like the weave for all the reasons Bruce outlined.

 

I generall shadow the buoys ( turning in front of, at buoys width) as the best training for the next pass. Not having the mental immediacy of making the next buoy and not getting too wide (a major weakness of my skiing) helped me significantly. This was especially so, skiing in salt water as i did for last 20+ years until 2016. Salt water felt like a 1/2 pass handicap to me, but forces you to engage the perturn aggressively.

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Yep, Terry does this at our lake as well. Weaving is definitely a great way to feel the pass, feel accomplished, and have the confidence to making the next pass. Doing this or him telling us to get our form right at slower speeds has helped us be better skiers for sure. No one wants to do this because we are stubborn, but the change will make a difference in your skiing when it matters.
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I'm not a fan of slowing down that much. I think a click or two can be beneficial, but if you slow down too much, it's basically a different pass. And, since skiing is based on rhythm and timing, it doesn't make that much sense to me. But, think of back in the day when people were hand driving and you'd get a 16.25 or a 15.98 and how different it felt.

 

I've never messed around with half loops, but as you said, you can run 36.5 all day long, and 38 is tough, so also doesn't seem best. There are a ton of different angles and the pull coming in at different times.

 

I have actually moved buoys in. We had a floating course in college, so we had two sets of hooks. We would keep them on the record setting, but did move them in to tolerance for Class C for collegiate tournaments. It made a world of difference. Not like I was running an extra pass or anything, but just running what I could pretty easily.

 

Weaving is only beneficial if you have someone who knows how/when to weave. If you aren't picking the skier up out of the turn, or whipping them in to the buoy, definitely not helpful. But done right it can make a world of difference. And, honestly can just help the the monkey off your back. Once you've run a pass and know it can be done, you do it. I have weaved many a skiers through their first pass, and two passes later, straight as an arrow, and they are still running it.

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I don't know how much it's going to benefit my skiing but I really like the idea of moving the balls in for just for a couple of rides as an experiment. My thinking is that since I don't have a super Elite driver who's practiced at the perfect swerve, having the balls narrow will let me feel the angles of the shorter rope length without the stress of having to get as high on the boat.

 

I know this is Captain Obvious but if you do any of these things too much it will probably go from a positive impact to a negative impact.

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I disagree on one point- I think there are a lot of skiers out there who are skiing on narrow courses- generally portables or cable-type courses with sagging booms- and are using narrow balls as a training device without even knowing it. Not a thing for private lakes, but there are a lot of casual buoy-chasers who get to tournaments and can't duplicate their practice scores ;) .
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I personally do none of the above. Figure out what is missing and go to a pass where you can work on it. Once ready, proceed back up the rope. Repeat. But this is just me and other things may work well for others.

 

When skiers are working on new speeds, I will sometimes slow the boat down a few tenths from the new challenging speed. But once at full speed I don’t typically slow down.

 

A narrow course would be fun to try. Marcus and Matt have this option at the Ridge but I have never tried it. I like this better than half loops but obviously more involved.

 

A good driver helping you finish a pass is nice, and works. But it’s much harder to do than most people think.

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@ozski I think it would be a lot of work to make it so you could move the balls between passes. I was thinking that if I did make the balls narrow for working on 38 and 39 I would just have to really make a point to ski extra-wide at 32 and 35. Doing it your way seems like an awful lot of work.

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Andy Mapple told me years a go that at the longer line lengths, which for him was 32 and 35, he would envision the buoys being wider than they were, and would simply therefore, ski a wider course at those line lengths. The reason being, that he wanted to always maintain the same "intensity" for every pass. He was a big believer in not varying intensity for different line lengths, since he felt that that would lead to inconsistency. It obviously worked well for him.

 

 

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When we put our last course in up north, we put two eyes in each block, one for actual and one for narrow tollarance. We ski actual until fall when it was our practice to go south to the record tournaments. At that point we’d move the buoys in. Our thinking was that the narrow buoys with the cold water would feel like normal buoys when we got in the hot water down south. Can’t say that was the reason, but our best tournament scores were usually in the south.

 

Lpskier

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Half loops aren't necessarily great trainers IMO, but can be fun. Meaning 33.5 is more 35-ish in feel without being 35. Similar to 36.5 is more 38 ish in feel than 35. So for fun not bad you get some speed, some swing, and some wiggle room for mistake recovery and successful passes. I have fun with 'em but I don't think 36.5 gets you 38 like @Horton said.

 

Weaving? That's tough cuz of the timing on the skier and the line.

 

As for what makes it easiest geometrically? I'd let the math/physics dudes chime in but my $$ is on a narrower course makes it easiest.

 

One way this occurs w/o cheating is a portable with bowed arms. I used to ski one quasi regularly and run LOTS of 38's...like a 15% pass became almost automatic and easy-automatic/back to back stuff...no abuse. Funny thing was seemed like it built my confidence at 38 or something cuz I did start to run many more of them elsewhere as well...even surveyed courses with ZO and in adverse wind conditions...including my tourney PB on surveyed course with ZO (despite training PP).

 

Who knows how much effect the skinny course had in occasional training...it was fun tho I knew the scores there didn't count. Sometimes it was the only place I had a shot with a driver and I'm a ski whore. I have not had a season like that since...dunno pretty anecdotal stuff...but I think a narrower course has a greater effect than a slightly longer line or slightly slower speed.

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@ToddL that's roughly the plan. I'm currently overthinking it to make sure I can't come up with something a little bit more elegant.

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The hassle would be finding the loose or unused bungee cord/line each time you want to switch out. One idea would be to clip the buoy to both lines when you want the "narrow" course. Thus, in theory it will be narrower, but not directly over the cinder block. Rather, somewhere between the fixed anchor and the cinder block. Then for standard course, you un-clip the cinder line from the buoy to free the buoy back to standard location. Additionally, you could clip the cinder line to some point along the anchor line under water. This would make it quicker to find when you want to go back to narrow.

 

The only more "elegant" ideas that come to mind involve long feed lines, anchors, and pulleys with a central wench, and all that is just too much trouble.

 

Or you could just add the green "mini" buoys for when you want to practice 39.5. (JK)

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I couldn't agree more with what @theboardingschool said. As long as someone that knows how/when to weave is super beneficial. but it takes a very skilled driver to do it. As you start to run that pass more, lessen the weave until you become straight. @brooks @twhisper & others have done the weave in the past for me at harder line lengths, not only does it give you confidence, but teaches you rhythm and flow of that pass. I've never done half loops, and don't really plan to, but slowing the boat down would be okay, as long as its very slight. Otherwise its just to different. I will say I don't practice with someone weaving for me every set, not even close. Here and there but never on a consistent basis.
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@ColeGiacopuzzi tell the truth man. If I ever get around to moving the balls in you are going to line up to see what you can get.

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@ColeGiacopuzzi you know me...

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@ Horton Moving the buoys in 9” per side should have you running 39 more than your running 38 now, after a couple of sets to acclimate. I base this guesstimate on skiing a course that was correct and another that was 6” narrow per side on a regular basis in the past. I’m not sure how much it will improve your 39 score when you go back to an accurate course but I can guarantee it would be fun. I think it would work well if you could go to the narrow course the next pass after running a good 38 without panic. Of course that would require a huge pulley system or a multiple lake site. I guess you could have 6 swimmers outside the skiers path ready to quickly swim in and change the buoys from one anchor line to the other. ;)
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I personally hate getting weave or anything un-official. If I'm running passes in practice but not getting anywhere close in a tournament, then whats the point?

 

I feel more confident knowing I can run passes in highly adverse conditions....i.e. either at a faster speed, a rope that's a few inches on the short side, larger then necessary buoys, or poor driving, or unsettled water or a different setup.

 

Caveat...I am very very fortunate to have amazing ski partners and drivers at my disposal in Charleston. If I didn't, I certainly would probably teach someone how to be driving in my favor rather then against it.

 

Being hard-sided two buoys in a row and swimming early teaches you much less about a pass then someone that is at least giving you a shot at making turns by being 'with you' a little.

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@adamhcaldwell let me be clear that I absolutely do not advocate any of this except on a rare occasion for fun or as an experiment to see if there are lessons to be learned. For my day-to-day skiing I absolutely want arrow-straight boat paths, actual times, and record tolerance buoys.

 

The reason why I'm kind of fascinated with the narrow buoys idea is that it will allow me to go around buoys at a shorter rope length. By actually making turns with balls at a shorter rope length it would give me the opportunity to feel the shorter rope without the requirement that I get as high on the boat. Theoretically it seems like it could be a stepping stone.

 

I am also an advocate of in between loops. Running passes at 36 1/2 off is a really good psychological crutch for me to realize that 38 is just not as hard as I make it.

 

As for slowing the boat down I'm not sure if I like that idea. I've never really done it but it seems like boat speed and the feel of the boat should be a constant if possible.

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@adamhcaldwell also when I started this thread I was sort of hoping you and that nut ball @AdamCord might start doing some physics to figure out how many inches of buoy width equals inches of rope length. I am aware it's nowhere near one to one and also somewhat apples and oranges.

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Interesting thread for sure.

 

Isn't the "feel" of the shorter rope lengths mostly due to the necessity to be higher up on the boat?

 

I still feel that confidence and form are reciprocal; and as such, confidence impacts form. A skier who is approaching a pass with confidence skis proactive, with or even "ahead" of the pass which supports and ensure good form. That same skier approaching a pass with less confidence skis reactive and thus "behind" the pass and form suffers. So, any method which tricks the brain into associating confidence with a particular pass will eventually and ultimately help the skier develop towards having that same confidence with actual tolerances.

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I think @AdamCord is traveling today.....imagine he might post soonish.

 

@Horton, Not having to get as high on the boat basically means you would be running a longer line wouldn't it?. A mini course is easy at 41off and feels nothing like what it does at full width.

 

I think what might be a better method of training for short line is moving the buoys 12-18" wider. I think you would be very surprised at how quickly 28off will feel like 38off.

 

Plus, you can do it at a line length that your already comfortable/confident with, but just push the tempo a bit harder, more aggressively. The wider buoys would help you learn to spend more time turning and being patient coming back to the handle, and hold the connection with the boat longer off the second wake without hitting speeds and loads that would make you panic.

 

To ski a wider course you would need to get to a higher point on the boat, so it would give you the perspective of running the shorter line length without actually being at short line.

 

It think making things 'narrower' to feel a shorter line length has too many other drawbacks that would hinder you as you move the course back out to full width.

 

 

 

 

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@adamhcaldwell I think a few rides w/ wide balls would be also fun as $h*t also. Part of the idea is to just do some fun & different stuff. Maybe there is training value and lessons to be learned and maybe not.

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@Horton one time @adamhcaldwell and I skied a course where the buoys were about 3 feet too wide, initially unbeknownst to us. Neither one of us could get beyond 3 or 4 buoys at 28off. It would be really fun to try again actually knowing the buoys were too wide ahead of time.

 

Also Mapple practiced at slower speeds a lot when I would ski with him, especially in the winter and on the hardest passes. Not slow enough to completely change your timing, but enough to take the "edge" off. Usually that meant 35.7mph instead of 36 for him.

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To get the effect of wider or narrower buoys, I'm thinking to take a narrow noodle, cut off 10 or 12", tie a light line to it and the other end to some type of weight, half a brick, coke bottle full of sand, ect., and place that where you like, narrower or wide. I would probably just do 1 and 2 ball since for me those are most important to get my rhythm.
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There are two other locations for buoys I have considered and think would be fun to play with.

 

One is the “virtual gate” for every buoys. Drop buoys between each boat guides as an extra set of ‘gates’. I think there’s video of Mapple skiing with them in the lake in one of Gordons old films. If your running in front of or between them then clearly you are running an ‘on-time’ pass. Certainly help with awareness of ‘timing’ at your next to hardest pass may pay dividends when your cutting rope. At the very least a great way to sharpen up on earlier passes and force yourself not to be lazy on the way up the line.

 

Second location would be to put a second buoy/noodle about 3-4 feet down course of each turn-ball on the buoy line. Idea would be to be riding the ski back toward center before reaching that second marker/buoy. Potentially, this would push you to be working toward taking a more up-course path and finishing the turn and ski rotation at the ball as opposed to only being half way through when you pass the buoy.

 

Unfortunately, this only works in one direction....heading back the other way, you would need to up running the course "early" and skiing back to CL 3-4 feet in front of the buoys. But - this would be an interesting spin on perspective, timing, rhythm etc. as you work on things at earlier passes and running back to back passes.

 

 

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@fu_man

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