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Tuning Your Water Ski

Binding and Fin Adjustment


Tuning techniques for slalom skis have been around for several years. Steve Schnitzer invented the adjustable fin to experiment with fin shapes for slalom water skis. Shortly afterward, he went to work with Herb O'Brien at HO Sports. With the help of Chet Raley and Mike Ferarro the adjustable fin was further developed and marketed on all HO Slalom skis. Now all other manufacturers have adjustable fin systems. Other people have been filing and sanding on skis for years to get maximum results.

- Basic skiing technique is first
- Binding position is second
- Fin adjustment is third

    The two best basic techniques for tuning water skis are in the bindings and fin systems. Adjusting the fin system on your slalom ski requires a basic working knowledge of what the fin and bindings do. The front half of the fin facing the nose of the ski effects the front of the ski. The back side of the fin facing the tail of the ski affects the back of the ski. Front and back movements of the fin effect the radius of the turn. Most manufacturers have factory settings that are recommended for your first initial setting. Working from this point forward is the best way to get to the desired setting quickly. If your fin gets moved or damaged and you do not have the factory settings, set the fin 1" from the tail of the ski. 2 1/2" deep, and 6 3/4 long. This is an average setting but by no means is perfect for all water skis.


    Step one is to determine binding position on your slalom ski. If you are having a problem on both turns or on both sides of the wake the problem is likely binding position or technique of the skier instead of fin position. It is very important to understand what to do first. Basic skiing technique is first. Most common is a lack of understanding of correct body position. If body position is correct then proceed to binding position. Binding position is second. Binding position is correct when the ski tip is in the optimum place. A general rule of thumb for most but not all of the skis is the water should be breaking at the ball of the front foot when the ski is gliding.

    Two Most Commom Binding Position Problems

    If the ski tip is riding very high on the finish of both turns the solution is have the skier bend the front knee at the beginning of the edge change and ride this bent knee and ankle position through the entire turn first before adjusting binding position. A good technician works with the skiers fundamentals as well as ski tuning.

    If the ski tip is equally high on the finish of both turns and body position and knee bend is correct then the bindings need to go forward one hole. Always slow the boat speed down at least one or two miles an hour after making a change on a slalom ski.

    If the problem is better but the tip is still riding high then go forward one more hole. The reverse is true when the ski tip is catching on both sides at the finish or beginning of the turn. First look at the skiers body position in the turns.

    If the skier is too far forward and the body position needs correcting, try having the skier push his or her chest out further after the edge change and pinch the shoulder blades to stay centered over the ski. If the skiers stance is correct and the ski tip still catches on both sides, then move binding position back one hole. If the problem is better but the tip is still little low then continue back with the binding position.

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