ARTICLE SOURCE: Water Ski Company

Chad Scott, Pro-level boat driver, and Nautique Big Dawg Skier is recognized as the Mario Andretti of tournament water ski boat driving.  He has driven over 8 World Records not including Regina Jaquess’s recent pending World Record of 4 buoys at 41 off! If you ask any pro-skier they will tell you he is one of the best drivers today.  We recently caught up with Chad and asked him for his top 5 driving tips.

  1. Make sure the boat is balanced.  Setup the boat to ensure you have the boat balanced for the skier and driver. The balance can effect the wakes for the skier and the ability for the driver to maintain a straight boat path. This is very important!
  2. One of the first things I do when I am about to pull a skier is take a mental note regarding what foot forward the skier is. Obviously a left foot forward skier and right foot forward skier will turn differently. This way I know which side of the course to expect the skier to be more aggressive on in the turn.  This will also determine which side of the course as a driver I need to be more aggressive on the wheel to stay ahead of the skier.
  3. The course starts the second you pull the skier out of the water. Line up as quickly as possible. Be ready for the skiers gate pullout. Do not allow the skier to pull you over when they are pulling out for the gate. This is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of driving. For a skier, the start is everything! If the skier pulls the boat over on the pull out, the driver is then lining up and correcting while the skier is in the gate glide. This correction is killing the skiers width at the gate and almost always puts the driver and the skier in a negative swing.
  4. Don’t become focused on the boat guides. Look down the lake only using the guides as a reference in your peripheral vision. I believe if you are focused on the guides you end up driving buoy to buoy. This will ultimately put you in a reactive rather than proactive driving mode with the skier.
  5. While keeping a straight boat path maintain a feel and focus for where the skier is at all times. Try and stay a little ahead of this skier. If this is done correctly the boat will maintain a straighter boat path. You want to steer enough to keep the line tight for the skier at the finish of the turn. I sort of just thumb away on the wheel as I know the skier is about to complete the turn. This is where it’s important to know what foot forward the skier is. Thumb away sooner on the 2/4 side for a right foot forward and opposite for a left foot forward skier.  The worst thing a driver can do especially at the shorter line is wait for the skier and then react. Once this happens it is too late. When I react as a driver I am forced to chase the skier to the next buoy instead of having the ability to keep the line tight and work for the skier. 

Driving is like skiing you have to practice. Don’t be afraid to move sooner than you are comfortable with. Get feedback from the skier. What they feel, what they like and dislike. After all we as drivers are there for the skier. I always like to know what the skiers feel, what they think I can do better for them. As with skiing, the video doesn’t lie. Put a camera at the end of the lake. Not only watch for a straight boat path. But look at when you are correcting in relation to where the skier is. Practice, practice, practice!