Waterskier riding behind a Bennington pontoon boat

Learn to Waterski

 

No boat offers opportunities for family fun like a pontoon boat. With plenty of deck space, they can accommodate a whole family and bunches of friends for a panoply of activities, including cruising, dining, fishing, sightseeing, swimming, and, especially, towable watersports.

Once the kids have gotten their thrills from tubing, water skiing is a good natural progression. Unlike tubing, water skiing requires skill and practice, and the challenge involved in learning it, and the satisfaction of gaining a new skill, make it highly appealing. Bennington pontoon boats have the power and handling to be excellent ski boats for beginning and intermediate skiers, so let’s take a look at how to get started.

Learn Hand Signals

Lack of communication between the skier and boat driver is one of the reasons why many potential skiers get nervous and a common cause of accidents. That’s why it’s imperative that the skier and the driver know the proper hand signals before they head out on the water. They are:

Speed up: the skier does the “thumbs up” sign. This is also the sign for the driver to start.

Slow down: do a “thumbs down”

Speed is good: do an “okay” sign, making a circle with the thumb and forefinger and extending the other three fingers up.

Turn: hold the forefinger up, make a circle above your head, then point in the direction you want to go

Back to the dock: do a “good boy” pat on the top of your head

Stop or cut engine: draw your forefinger across your neck

I’m okay: clasp both hands above your head. Do this every time after you fall (unless you’re not okay).

The skier and driver should practice together before starting to make sure they understand each other.

Body Position

Practice this on land. Put your feet in the skis and sit between them on a hard surface such as a dock. Hold the handle of the tow rope with both hands, palms downward, with the rope between your knees. Have someone pull the rope as you slowly lift yourself into a chair-sitting position.

Deep-Water Start

Your first starts will be in deep water. Get into a floating position facing the boat with the skis parallel, the tips pointing up, and the tow rope between them. The boat will move forward at the slowest possible speed until there is no slack left in the rope. Give the “speed up” signal the driver to accelerate, and let the boat slowly pull you into a standing position. Keep your knees bent, arms straight, and head up, looking at the boat.

Steering

At the beginning, the driver should keep all turns wide and gentle. The most basic method of steering is simply a matter of putting pressure on the ski on the side you want to steer toward. To go right, put pressure on the right ski and remove pressure on the left ski. Putting pressure on the left ski will cause you to go left. Practice to learn how much pressure is needed to make slow and easy movements in both directions.

Ski with the Right Boat Driver

If you’re just learning how to ski, an experienced boat driver is essential. The two of you can’t start from scratch at the same time. A good boat driver will know the proper speed to drive (typically 18 to 20 mph depending on the weight of the skier), will be familiar with your hand signals, and will always know how to avoid accidents.

Want to enjoy your newfound waterskiing skills on the lake this summer? Do it behind a Bennington pontoon boat.