Life Comes Full Circle

Life Comes Full Circle

I skied a fun waterski tournament today at Barking Shores Ski Club in Haskins Ohio. My mind raced given that this was the first tournament I skied this year. I upped my tournament personal best to 2 @ 32′ off 34 MPH (and skied this score all three rounds). I really appreciated my parents and Brent coming out to support me.

Waterskiers are a great tribe. We wander the world looking for places to ski and strangers roll out the red carpet. I have skied at multiple private waterski lakes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana by reaching out to fellow skiers for a pull. The community is tight and fun loving always ready to share their sport with friends and strangers. I met a neighbor of Barking Shores Ski Club, Chuck Dunn after the tournament. He was one of the three founding members of the FNS (pronounced Fins) Navy Waterski Club on the Ottawa River in the late 1970’s. That club was later moved to the Maumee River and was renamed the Glass City Waterski Club. That was the club that gave me the opportunity and inspiration to try to ski the waterski course for the first time in the early 2000’s. My great friends at the Glass City Waterski Club taught me how to wakeboard, wakeskate, air chair, build a pyramid and trick ski.

Dave Hill was one of the few FNS Navy Waterski Club members that made the transition from the Ottawa River to the Maumee River. When Jason and I were frustrated with skiing the waterski course on the Maumee, Dave Hill gave Jason and I a heads up about a private lake that was rented in the past. With that tip, we found the owner, rented the lake and named it Lake Swerve. The waterski anchors were already in the lake just waiting for skiers to return hook up some buoys and turn them. Fast forward four years, I was skiing at Lago Santa Fe in Texas and I met one of the original skiers at Lake Swerve.

I skied with Dave Grude for the first time this year. He told me about when he contacted the owners about renting the lake (we now call Lake Swerve). The owner’s son, Dave prayed the night before that he would have the opportunity to learn how to waterski during his prayers before bed. Dave Grude showed up the next day to rent the lake for waterskiing. He skied many years on that lake before building his own private lake.

Waterskiing is a great sport, but the people and community are awesome too! Booyah!

Waterski Tournament / Rock Band Battle

At the final 2009 Ohio INT waterski tournament I skied a personal tournament best of 5 buoys at 15′ off at 36 MPH. Mandy and my parents were able to share in my triumph. Unfortunately, it was too hot for little Barks to come. I was very happy to ski well and finish first in the Slalom Expert division this tournament stop. Larry rounded 4 buoys (with an injured shoulder) so 5 buoys was what I needed for a first place finish.

Larry won first in Ohio since he skied better than me over the course of the tournament circuit. I finished 2nd in Ohio in the Slalom Expert division. At the awards banquet they had a rock band battle for entries into the grand prize drawing to win a Hyperlite wake skate. Matthew, Mandy and I competed in the rock band battle with the song ‘Living on a Prayer’. Mandy sung and played bass guitar. We won the battle and Matthew won the wake skate. It feels good to be a rock star!

My First O

Yesterday I did my first O on a slalom trick ski. An O is a handle pass 360. Amy taught me this trick and I worked on doing the following:

  • perform this trick straight behind the boat
  • take a couple of practice pulls (to get a little slack)
  • look at the shore on both sides (head stays up during trick)
  • pull in, rotate quick, keep head up, pass handle, grab handle
  • trick can completed with one hand riding it out forward (but I prefer both)
  • look into the back of the boat at the completion of this trick
  • fast rotation is very important, don’t stop backwards

Woo hoo! I love learning new tricks.

Rounding Six

Rounding Six

Waterskiing is a lot like life. When waterskiing around the slalom course you are never exactly sure how successful you will be in passing through the entrance gates, around six buoys, and through the exit gates. Mentally I know what I need to do to complete the slalom course, but the trick is in getting my body to do it. It is easy to just go into an automatic mode and let the pass through the slalom course happen. Unfortunately, growth is impossible since the same strategy yields the same results.

I made good progress this year in improving my slalom course strategy by pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It is always difficult for me to attend waterski school since I have this fear of being unable to make my body finesse itself through the slalom course with a different strategy / form. I worked past this fear and received top notch slalom course instruction at April Coble’s Waterski School.

I was able to break through a plateau in my waterskiing with this instruction. I still struggle many times, I know what to do but am unable to get my body to bend to the will of my mind. I have the same problem in real life. I know the good I want to do but leave the kind word unspoken, the good deed unattended and the charity not given.

Fortunately, my waterskiing improved throughout the summer and I won the most improved waterskier award at the Ohio INT Championship banquet last evening. I was very surprised and honored to receive this award. My friend Jason probably deserved this award more than myself but I won’t complain. I won 1st place in the Men’s Slalom Expert division after getting bumped up from the Slalom 1st Class division at the last tournament.

I hope I am successful in applying my slalom course learnings to the rest of my life. The most important life lesson I learned this year was that equilibrium (or balance) in living is dangerous. Forcing myself to change by challenging old habits and trying new approaches was very refreshing while at the same time very scary. Having quality instruction, peers to hold you accountable and time to experiment with new strategies was a very successful equation.

A big thanks goes out to Jason for all his feedback, helping me to hang in there on the rough days and for giving me excellent tidbits to get around that next buoy. Jason is also very generous with his boat and taught me that I need to be more trusting with my toys. I thank God for the good health and opportunity to waterski. I qualified for and hope to ski again this year at the INT national championship.

Waterski Slalom Course

INT Waterski Tournament

I skied my first INT waterski tournament this past weekend at Kokomo Ski Club. Saturday, I started in Men’s 3 and completed 15′ off at 30 MPH. I was upgraded to Men’s 2 and completed 15′ off at 32 MPH. I was then upgraded to Men’s 1 and completed 3 @ 15′ off at 34 MPH achieving a best personal best. I was awarded first place in Men’s 1 (sharing the title with another skier who tied me). Woo Hoo! ;-)

Sunday, I competed within Men’s 1 and completed a full pass at 15′ off at 30 MPH. Then I completed 4 @ 15′ off at 32 MPH after struggling with my form. I was awarded second place. :-) There was only one Men’s kneeboarder and he (Scott) convinced me to compete against him. I rode his kneeboard behind a brand a new Super Air Nautique and needless to say I finished second. The Super Air Nautique has a huge wake!

Trap and Waterskiing

Last week, I achieved a personal best trap score of 18 (which means I destroyed 18 of 25 birds, which look like miniature orange Frisbees).

I waterskied on Saturday and had a very enjoyable time. With my recently altered dry suit I stayed nice and warm, despite the mid-40 degree water temperature. I will be able to continue waterskiing.

When an F350 is *not* enough… due to operator error

We decided to pull our 10,000 lb water-ski jump out last night. Jason brought an F350 dually (6×4) powered by a mammoth diesel engine. We took the trailer hitch receiver off of Terry’s truck and discovered that it was a bit lacking in size, so much so, that the corresponding pin wouldn’t work. We determined that we would have to make due with a carriage bolt hooking the ill-sized hitch receiver in place. The Y-shaped towing tongue was installed on the front of the jump and it was time to get everything hooked up.

Even with the slight lowering of the ball via the trailer hitch receiver it sat really high. We pushed the jump out into the river a bit to clear a path for the F350, which would have to go deep into the water in order to slide the hitch over the ball. When we successfully hitched it up I asked if we should install a pin in place to lock it together. Mike noted that this wasn’t needed in the past so we continued on. (The F350’s back wheels were half under water and the front wheels were just clear of the end of the ramp and the nasty super slick green moss.)

I was ready to see the big F350 rock and roll. A bunch of us jumped in the bed of the F350 to weight down the rear tires. We told Jason to hit it and we moved ahead but were quickly stopped when the jump tires collided with the ledge that forms the edge of the launching ramp. The back tires spun, rubber burned, and we went nowhere. A running start was needed. We backed up and kicked off round two. The running start helped but the F350 was still stopped dead in its tracks. Jason got out of the truck to investigate, but quickly returned to the truck since it started rolling ominously toward the river. We decided to try one more running start with plenty of Ford power.

The truck lunged forward resembling a fit of rage and the jump tires hit the end of the ramp hard, the ramp bounced, and the large 16″ thick foam floatation pieces broke off the ramp frame. However, the effort was futile since the jump once again stopped us dead. We pulled all the large foam pieces that had broken off out of the way (which weighed quite a bit given their waterlogged state). It became clear that we were fully committed to removing the jump now; otherwise it would now sink faster than the Titanic.
We had another problem. All along we suspected that the front wheels were doing nothing and that is why the big Ford struggled so much. On the last attempt, it was confirmed that the 4×6 mode was *not* powering the front tires. (Four wheel drive is critical given the loose stones and wet concrete present on a boat launching ramp.) We determined that the F350 needed some Chevy help. Terry’s Chevy was connected to the front of the F350 (making a train) and two more attempts were made. This didn’t really help since Terry had to pull both the huge F350 and the jump.

It was time for another approach and it should be noted that daylight was quickly expiring. We kept the F350 in the middle and had Terry’s pickup tied to one corner of the jump and Mike’s minivan to the other corner of the jump. Frank and I weighed down the F350’s back tires. Hit it! All three vehicles battled forward and the ski jump bounced over the ledge and started up the launching ramp. The trailer hitch tongue broke loose of the F350 and slammed down onto the ground. Terry’s rope broke and only Mike’s rope (no stronger than a ski line) kept the jump from roaring down the ramp into the river. Terry quickly crawled behind the jump and blocked the jump tires earning a medal of bravery.

After a discussion of the options a determination was made to not jack up the tongue for reattachment to the F350. The F350 was tied to the tongue and Terry’s pickup was also reconnected. This approach was successful and the ski jump was now free of the incline of the launching ramp. The remaining movement, placement, and parking of the jump was uneventful. The saturated foam pieces were moved with the F350 via two trips and stacked on the deck of the ski jump. Jason left and took the F350 to the car wash for a much needed cleaning.

It was very dark when we were done with the ski jump and consequently, we didn’t get to ski. Considering all the things that could have gone wrong (slipping on nasty green moss; carriage bolt failure; last rope breaking, jump rolling into river and sinking; F350 rolling into river…) we got off pretty easy.

*** Update ***
There was no problem with the F350’s 6×4 operation. Our operator forgot to lock the front hubs, which differ from the F150s which lock electronically.

Kudos for Customer Service

Customer service is non-existent in this current day and age. However, I must give kudos to the kind folks at HO Watersports / Hyperlite.

I use my collection of waterski equipment frequently and work hard to maintain it well. Occasionally, my equipment breaks and I contact the vendor to check the availability of replacement parts (and I always attach digital pictures of the equipment failure). Every time that I have contacted HO / Hyperlite about an equipment failure they have supplied me with free replacement parts shipped to my door. This approach to customer service deserves kudos and I will continue to buy lots of waterski equipment from them and encourage you to do the same!