John Runciman PhD PEng

Water Skiing Research

Typical rope load (solid line) and boat velocity (dotted line) for a slalom ski water start, run and cutting as collected during our 2009 testing session

Water skiing is a sport that approximately 10 million North Americans participate in annually.Since the first skiers took to the water in 1922 it has developed into a multimillion dollar international sport.


Looking at the current technology of water skiing equipment, it isnít hard to trace its roots.Ralph Samuelson successfully skied on Lake Pepin in Lake City, MN in 1922.He was the first recorded person to water ski.His skis consisted of two pine boards with leather bindings.From this modest beginning came the old style flat bottomed skis that were standard for decades.The 1960ís were a time of many changes and water skiing was no exception.Affordable high performance boats became readily available, fueling the sport.With this increased power and speed came the demand for skis with improved performance.Manufacturers rose to the challenge, developing the features commonly associated with todayís best slalom skis including: high wrap bindings, concave bottoms, drop through fins and beveled edges.


One company in particular was to become well known for its innovative ski designs.Maherajah Water Skis began producing skis in the early 1950ís and was the source of many of the currently employed design features associated with the best skis.Their pioneering work on ski design lead to a series of national and world championship ski titles in the 1970sís and later.Working in collaboration with Maharajah Water Skis we initiated our water ski research looking at the performance characteristics of the Maherajah Fastback slalom ski an comparing it to more typical slalom skis on the market.


Our recent work has been in collaboration with Connelly Skis and Lighthouse Lake Water Sports Centre near Bancroft.This research has been looking at the performance characteristics of the skis comprising the Connelly slalom ski line.†† See the 2009 and 2010 updates and the results accepted for publication for more information.