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What does it take to become a Slalom Course Driver?


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A stack of seat time and the willingness to be the every skier's excuse for every bad pass that happens on your watch.  

As an aside, good driving is as much of a skill as good skiing, even with modern speed control, and takes just as much or even more time to become proficient.  

 

 

 

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ahopkinsVTX

I would start by looking into the classes and requirements to drive sanctioned tournaments and poke around on awsa’s site. I believe they offer courses and testing to become approved. Also give these two podcasts a listen. They are very interesting hearing how two of the best drivers in the world approach their time in the seat. Also this is an awesome podcast for water skiing in general. 
 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-water-ski-podcast/id1477904051?i=1000474081620

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-water-ski-podcast/id1477904051?i=1000465945196

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10 hours ago, Eagleboy99 said:

http://www.usawaterski.org/pages/officials/TDProgramDescription.pdf  I can attest that not just anyone can be a good driver.

That’s to merely pull clinics and practices.  Becoming a senior driver much more complicated.  But, essentially, you have to drive  all over, (by car), pulling or assisting all sorts of events, and eventually you have the honor of having every centimeter of your drives scrutinized by the IWWF and the public (for those who care) criticize your line and wonder if you’re playing favorites.   

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@zjroeber - What is your ultimate goal as a slalom course driver?  Tips above are all spot on.  It does take a lot of practice and skill development, particularly as you progress to more experienced and heavier, talented skiers.  How much experience driving a DD ski boat do you have, I see at this time not a lot of time on this forum.  If not a lot of time behind the wheel of a DD boat, mastering the nuances will be a precursor to slalom course driving.  In addition to the AWSA site information, there are podcasts and internet material providing excellent tips.

And, thanks for the interest, it is awesome to see someone with the interest in developing that particular skill, your course skiers will really appreciate having competent skills behind the wheel.  As noted, top notch drivers are not always easy to find.  Enjoy the learning experience.

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On 6/25/2020 at 7:32 AM, Woodski said:

How much experience driving a DD ski boat do you have, I see at this time not a lot of time on this forum.

I learned to drive a '98 Sunsetter LX. Probably put 200-300 hours on that boat. Have now moved on to a '12 Wakesetter 23 LSV. Currently have 100+ hours on that boat. I do all of the boat driving (besides when I'm riding). Not saying I'm qualified yet to be a professional slalom course driver. I talked to a Mastercraft team skier the other day and it seemed like it would be an interesting experience. Just looking into it. I'd say that I am very comfortable with the mechanics and driving characteristics of inboard boats. I just joined this site this month but I have been driving inboards for about the last decade.

Edited by zjroeber
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zj, thats excellent and seat time is the best start.  But driving a good skier in the course is a humbling experience.  You can't deviate more than a few inches either way, with upwards of 700 # of load on the line, almost perpendicular to you.  That said, I'd suggest you find your closest club, drive some practices, do a drivers clinic, get rated, and do it.  Lord knows USAWS needs more to support more events.  

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If you don't ski or drive a course often it's all humbling!  I will never forget the first time I drove the course.  Dammer this boat is not going to fit!

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Not to mention even switching boats requires extra focus, each boat needs different levels of steering adjustment to stay in tolerance and give your skier a good pull.

As noted above, it is a humbling experience and takes lots of practice.  If you have not driven the course before it will surprise you.  Without the guide buoys you would be amazed at how ‘not straight’ the path you currently drive is, new drivers are always blown away by what it takes to simply drive straight through a simple set of guide buoys for 16.08 or 16.95 seconds...

I can’t stress this enough, thanks for the interest, your skiers will appreciate your dedication and you will become the driver of choice, they are far and few.  A good driver makes a huge difference for a short line skier.

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There's no experience like thinking you've driven the perfect boat line down the course, only to get earful from the short-line skier at the end of the pass, or even worse just the stink eye then no eye contact at all.  Hehe.  Good times.   

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1 hour ago, jjackkrash said:

There's no experience like thinking you've driven the perfect boat line down the course, only to get earful from the short-line skier at the end of the pass, or even worse just the stink eye then no eye contact at all.  Hehe.  Good times.   

"Where end course is available, the towboat pylon shall not deviate by more than 20cm (7.87in) from the course centerline. For instances where end course video is not available, the boat shall follow a straight path as close to the centerline of the course as possible."

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