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Turnaround Islands or No Turnaround Islands


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I am in the process of building a ski lake in Central WI (start in a couple weeks), and have talked to a number of skiers with varying degrees of time on a slalom course and want to ask...do people prefer turnaround islands or no turnaround islands?  A quick look at sites it looks like 60% no islands, 20% islands at both sides and 20% 1 island.  Curious because we got into quite a conversation about this topic...I like them personally and have islands at both ends in the plan.  Would love your thoughts.

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I typically like islands, the added setup time is nice. . Depends on the length of the lake, and if it will be used for activities other than slalom.  Barefooters and wakeboarders would probably rather not have them.  If you’re 2,200’ or less I’d want islands. 

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Congratulations on building a ski lake.  That is awesome.  I have never skied well at a site with islands.  It tends add outbound acceleration after the turn and mess up my pullout for the gate.  I've skied sites down to 1750 feet without them and it was fine.  However, I skied a couple sites with length about 2100-2200 feet that had the islands offset so that they could be used or you could just set down to the side of the island and go straight back in, thus making the island "optional".  Those worked well.  If you really want them, consider making them offset, so they are optional.

 

 OffsetIslands.jpg

Edited by MISkier
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The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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I haven't skied many private sites but the one I've  skied the most is pretty long, like 2400(?) feet, they have islands but don't use them because if you spin the pond still won't  be settled down so they stop at both ends anyway.

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Used to ski at a two lake site, one had islands, one no.  First come first serve.  The lake with the islands was always in use first, the longer lake w/out never used unless the lake with islands was full.  This is a small sample size of skiers but the way it was.  If any concerns about length--I'd do islands and Ideally offset them so when you finish around the island you are coming straight down course.  There will be many conflicting opinions--there is probably not a right or wrong.

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As a skier, I absolutely prefer islands.  Much more time to get settled and the boat is up to speed well before the pullout. 
As a lake owner, turn islands are a significant maintenance issue. You want to go overboard on erosion control or the islands will disappear and be in be on the bottom of the lake in just a few years. If you do them right when digging the lake they are absolutely the best way to go.  
Remember the size of the wakes as the boat gets up to speed and goes around the island is the biggest erosion you will face 

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If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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How funny.  I am definitely not a fan of turn islands as a skier.  I didn't come here to go on an amusement park ride.  Just take me into the slalom course.

 

They are so sketchy at -28 -- I can't even imagine how disorienting it would be at -15 where the rope travels over land!

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@Than_Boganwow. If you think turn islands are sketchy, whoever designed/ built that lake should be court martialed, shot, and sent to the Russian front 

it’s like every other design / engineering project. Done right, it’s great. Done badly and you end up on 60 minutes. or get a promotion in government services 

Edited by Bruce_Butterfield
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If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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Yeah, a maintenance problem if not built correctly.  Remember you're paying for dirt removal (unless the excavator is paying you for fill dirt) with islands it's dirt you don't have to move.

Just wait until @eleeskireads this!

Edited by LeonL
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Islands for sure and 2300 + feet long. As stated above, if done correctly they are great. They are some maintenance, but then so is anything worth doing. Visit AZ for some examples. I have a tournament in May that you are welcome to participate or just observe.

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One aspect of my training routing is long runs to build up aerobic and endurance levels.  For this, assuming no option of an open lake would be using islands to avoid frequent stops.  Ski loads seem to be pretty hard to replicate in a gym, the open water sets build strength and endurance quick along with simply getting used to being back on the water after the winter break.  Good luck and congrats on the project.

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A lot of lakes have islands that are oversized, and others that are too small.  Both will lead to excess wasted fuel either in just extending time under throttle or having to apply too much throttle to keep speed in a tight corner.  Other consideration is distance from the 55s.  Does not need to be excessively long with how powerful boats are today and how quickly they can reach speed.

The right size and alignment are ideal, and I think can improve the experience for both the drivers and the skier.  

A good turn island will help the driver find CL of the course much earlier and cleaner.

I may be biased to Trophy Lakes, but the turn island setup near the start dock is one of the best setups I've driven.  Easy for most anyone to drive, and will produce a repeatable experience for the skier on the end of the line regardless of the driver.

Here is a google map photo.  Centerline shown is 55m -55m buoy.  The best turn island is on the right side.  Boat path opens up as you exit the island and you don't need to hug a shoreline as your powering up to throttle.  We also put an additional buoy (in alignment with right hand boat guides on the exit of the turn island to help driver find center faster.   You would be amazed how much this improves the consistency from driver to driver entering the 55s.  Turn island on the left side of photo would be better if shifted about 20feet further from CL, as you have to really hug the island to line up early, and for a lot of drivers it can be more challenging.

image.png

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Islands enforce a very rigid usage of the lake. If you nail them they're awesome.  If you miss they're in the way for everything.

One of my favorite lakes has a dog leg on one side and an island on the other and the island is spot on and the dog leg is rough but another lake they don't use the islands at all because they're just so far away that they tend to drop before the islands then turn and go straight in.  And this varies by speed, they use the islands at 36mph only

 

 

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I like islands that are set up so that you are pretty much lined up dead straight into the course after rounding them.  Spring Mountain in Arizona is a good example.  It doesn't require a ton of offset.  If you stay tight to the island, you pretty much accelerate straight in.  Easier on the driver and much more peaceful for the skier out there as they're prepping for their pass.

I'd be interested to hear about your approval process digging a lake in WI.  They're notoriously difficult with approvals historically.  Always wanted to buy a farm near the Fox Cities where I grew up and build a lake.

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1 hour ago, UWSkier said:

I like islands that are set up so that you are pretty much lined up dead straight into the course after rounding them.  Spring Mountain in Arizona is a good example.  It doesn't require a ton of offset.  If you stay tight to the island, you pretty much accelerate straight in.  Easier on the driver and much more peaceful for the skier out there as they're prepping for their pass.

I'd be interested to hear about your approval process digging a lake in WI.  They're notoriously difficult with approvals historically.  Always wanted to buy a farm near the Fox Cities where I grew up and build a lake.

It took 2 years of dealing with the DNR.

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The gold standard as far as I'm concerned is Ski Ranch in Covington, La.  Big offset islands with enough space between them and the shore to drive a tugboat through.  With the offset, the course is dead straight down the lake. The boat comes around the island and is lined up immediately.  Duplicate Ski Ranch's layout and depth profile and it will be pretty awesome.  

 

 

Edited by ForrestGump
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Questions to answered 

  1. will the average skier be very skilled or not?
  2. will the average driver be very skilled or not?
  3. Is there extra real-estate or is it short?

FYI - islands became a thing with early man made lakes because in those days you had to start at your minimum speed @ long line and spin after each pass for 4 passes and then back to the dock. Then you would do that again until you got to your first shortening. If you never spin (  most of us drop every pass ) islands are a not every really necessary.   

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I’m all about having the boat up to speed and settled in well before the boat hits the greens.  For me, it all depends on the length of the lake whether or not to include turn around islands.  For example: I wish we had them here in Oconomowoc, WI at Stillwaters in contrast to lake I used to ski at in Oregon, WI where they were not needed at all since the lake was 2600’ long.

Jeff Nate

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The Prototype

Screenshot 2023-01-20 164757.jpg

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Ok, @Hortonwhy can't I give a dislike or WTF to your posts?  I get that you are king, but that needs to be on the to do list for your new web guy. 

At any rate, the vast majority of ski lakes were built well after the rule change to allow skiers to drop after each pass, so that's not an issue.  The real problem is how much dirt to move and how much can the lake builder/owner afford to get his "ideal" lake.

Bonehead, or whatever his name is these days is right.  Covington is probably the best designed lake I have seen.

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If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@LoopSkiOne of many copies

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@Bruce_ButterfieldI do not know why you an not WTF me. I will at that to my todo list.

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@Bruce_ButterfieldI understand and do not know. The new site software is a labyrinth of settings.  

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So again I prefer to ski islands, having said that--if I were the developer and wanted a great lake, low maintenance, and had the distance available I'd go no islands.  I hate maintenance.  Also if intending to sell homes around it, it does allow it to be a little more multifunctional.

I almost never had a chance to train islands, but enjoyed them at tournaments.

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@6balls I have comfortably skied a number of lakes that were kind of short with no islands. @teammalibu how long is Cottonwood?

 

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Absolutely, without a doubt, no turn island.  If you've ever skied Okeeheelee, you understand what I mean.   The ONLY reason for a turn island is if your lake isn't long enough.

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I love the short set up lakes with nicely sized off-set islands, feeling the boat accelerate well before the greens, and settling in just before the skier needs to pull out, and if this sounds good to you, then you need to come to the PNW and take a ski ride at the Broho

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Maybe I have only skied lakes with well-designed islands, but I like them. They especially work if you have skiers who don’t drop at each end of the lake. If I were designing a lake I’d copy the layout of Tate Lake in Eastern WA. It just works. The launch/dock area is perfect for kids or whomever who want to safely swim and play while the boat and skiers are ripping around. It is the north / top lake in this view:

 

9A7D63E9-600D-471B-9B19-A94682C3D8E5.png

Curious where you are building a lake? I have family in Dubuque, Iowa and think about moving out to that area at some point. 

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I can take or leave them. I’d just say make sure you have room for the long line skiers. We stopped using our turn islands because it’s just too narrow around them, and dangerous for anyone running longer than -28. If you’ve got the room, use them but have them offset and plenty room for the skier to not feel they are “whipped out” before getting near the 55’s. I think that feeling can be worse on the shorter lakes with islands.

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On 1/20/2023 at 6:04 PM, Horton said:

Questions to answered 

  1. will the average skier be very skilled or not?  spectrum, newer to course skiing and some college skiers
  2. will the average driver be very skilled or not?  drivers will be skilled
  3. Is there extra real-estate or is it short?  it will be 2000ft by 275ft.  wanted to go longer but bumped into some wetlands that prevented that.

FYI - islands became a thing with early man made lakes because in those days you had to start at your minimum speed @ long line and spin after each pass for 4 passes and then back to the dock. Then you would do that again until you got to your first shortening. If you never spin (  most of us drop every pass ) islands are a not every really necessary.   

 

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On 1/21/2023 at 7:02 PM, KRoundy said:

Maybe I have only skied lakes with well-designed islands, but I like them. They especially work if you have skiers who don’t drop at each end of the lake. If I were designing a lake I’d copy the layout of Tate Lake in Eastern WA. It just works. The launch/dock area is perfect for kids or whomever who want to safely swim and play while the boat and skiers are ripping around. It is the north / top lake in this view:

 

9A7D63E9-600D-471B-9B19-A94682C3D8E5.png

Curious where you are building a lake? I have family in Dubuque, Iowa and think about moving out to that area at some point.   Friendship, WI about 35 miles from the Dells

 

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In my opinion - turn islands are all about individual preference and what works for you, your setup, space, activities, and what the design is.  
For our lake we were a limited by space (property line) and location. Our lake is 2000 ft long - so feasibly we could have done without any islands - however we also wanted to preserve a beautiful oak tree and create an island with additional oak trees.  With 100’ diameter islands and 100’ between the banks we have plenty of room to ski at all line lengths around the islands.  With many of the new skiers we pull, once they get up it is nice to keep them skiing - more time on the skis rather than trying to get up again.  Turn islands allow us to do that much better.  Wakeboarding is also better with the islands as they can settle back in behind the boat around the island and get ready for another pass. 

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