John Runciman PhD PEng

Water Skiing Research

Update:  October 2009


Today with our aging population, there are a large number of individuals who have been active in the sport for years and in some cases decades.  Statistics bear this out with the participation demographics showing an average age around 30 with an average participation period of 12 years.  With increasing age typically comes increased body mass, decreased overall fitness levels and decreased free time available for participating in the sport.  All of these characteristics tend to exacerbate the physical demands the sport places on the participant.


In the summers of 2007 and 2009 we put groups of 5 skiers through a series of tests with both typical slalom skis and a Maherajah Fastback ski.  The Fastback ski shares many of the design features of other high end slalom water skis but differs most noticeably by its wider tail and longer recommended length.  For more complete information on the ski please see Maherajah Water Ski.


We instrumented the skiers and boat to measure skier velocity and direction, boat velocity and direction and rope load.


Results showed that the Fastback ski reduced rope loads on average by approximately 20%.  Reduced the work of deep water starting on a single ski by more than half and for some skiers and allowed them to water start on a single ski with nearly identical rope loads and effort as they achieved on two skis.  While these numbers are impressive, we also found that the ski’s on-the-water dynamic performance wasn’t deficient either.  In a follow-up survey all the skiers reported that they found the Fastback less “aggressive” on the water when compared to the smaller slalom skis, but our measured data showed that the Fastback accelerated well in turns and reached speeds equivalent to those achieved on the slalom skis. In a majority of our skiers, they actually achieved higher cutting speeds on the Fastback than on tapered slalom skis.


An article covering this study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, Feb 2011.