A light mist floats on the brisk morning air and sits hovering atop the mirror-like water. Its 630 am, the time of day when everything is quiet and still, catching the last few minutes of sleep before the start of the day. Walking down the lawn to the lake, the dew moistens my bare feet. The roar of the boat engine shatters the morning calm, and then slows to a dull roar as the engine shakes off the cold from the night. The water is perfectly still as I slip into the chilly neoprene life jacket, and slide my feet arduously into the rubber bindings on the old water ski, always referred to by my father as the Cadillac.
Shivering slightly as I wait on the back deck of the boat, my father gently pushes us away from the dock. I jump off the back and slowly submerge into the warm lake water, the ski cushioning my decent. I feel the tautness of the rope, the drag the water. A cursory “hit-it” explodes from my mouth as the boat leaps forward. The world becomes a chaos of water, light, and engine noise, then, in one magnificent second, I am up, skiing across the water in a near biblical fashion. I am water skiing, a magical sport that provides a thrill, a rush like none other, each repeated partaking a new experience - my own way of reclaiming time and space. It may seem like a miracle, but waterskiing is quite easy, and with practice and simple instruction, you can learn a skill that will last a lifetime.
Getting up on water skis is a pretty simple process, basically just standing up, however, it helps to have some rudimentary pointers to start out. After the water ski is on, the boat is warmed up and you have gotten into the water, it is time to prepare your stance. My father, sometimes heated in his instructions, always told me it is like sitting in a chair. Bend your legs, back straight, arms outstretched. Let the rope rest between the ski tips, which should be peeking up just about an inch above the water. Grip the bar loosely, and when the boat takes off, don’t let go.
After you have “assumed the position”, it is important to get a feel for the water. The boat should lightly drag you forward through the water. Situate yourself, feeling the gentle drag against the wide bottoms of the skis. When you feel comfortable, yell the magic words; “hit it!”. The next few seconds will be an explosion; of speed, water, and sound. Just hang on and stand up. If your position in the water was correct, the skis will boost you right to the top of the glassy water, popping you up like the lady of the lake, proffering the famous Excalibur to King Arthur.
Feel the water sliding effortlessly beneath your skis is like riding on top of a new box of Philadelphia cream cheese. The cool air whips against your body, chilling yet exhilarating. Lean to the right, digging the edge of your ski into the water coursing beneath you, then back to the left. Get your ski legs beneath you. The real pleasure comes as you cross over the wake of the boat, out onto the pristine, untouched water beyond. As you carve back and forth across the wake, cushion your knees to absorb the bump. Get comfortable crossing out on each side. As you traverse back and forth behind the speeding boat, feel the rush, the exhilaration, as you achieve the impossible, traveling across the surface of the water.
Water skiing is a special sport that everyone should experience. Assume a seated position in the water; feel the pressure as the boat gently drags you through the water. With a “hit it”, hold on to the bar, and let the water lift you up onto the skis. If you follow these simple guidelines, soon you will be sliding across the water, and carving up the ripples, and understanding why hydropower is the next best thing to God.