Adjusting your Slalom Water Ski
A slalom water ski is a complex machine. Adjusting binding placement, fin, and wing angle can make a radical difference in the performance of a ski. There are a few guidelines when adjusting a water ski. The first thing you should do is note where the manufacturer had everything located. This way you can always go back to ground zero. Ski companies spend a lot of time deciding how to set up a ski. They generally choose a set-up that will work for a large number of people. Another guideline is to only adjust one area at a time. This will help you truly adjust the ski and eliminate wasted time.
The first area to consider adjusting is the bindings. Most water ski companies generally set the bindings in the middle mounting location. Many beginners will find that a ski turns better with the bindings moved forward. If you are skiing at longer line lengths this is a good adjustment to try. Intermediate skiers (28-32 off) will generally be happy with the factory (center) mounting holes. Short line skiers will often prefer a rearward mounting which will help the ski accelerate out of a turn.
The next area to consider adjusting is the fin. Fin adjustments can make a radical difference on a skis performance. We recommend that most skiers move the fin the same direction that they moved their bindings. By moving the fin forward it will make the ski feel smaller and turn faster. Moving the fin back will increase the amount of ski in the water and make the ski feel larger and more stable. When moving the fin forward/backward, 1/10 inch adjustments are a good increment. Make sure to keep the depth of the fin in the front and rear of the fin the same as the factory setting. Adjusting the depth of the front of the fin in relation to the rear of the fin will make large differences in the ski. If a ski is overturning you can raise the front of the fin. If the ski seems to wheelie on the exit of a turn you should lower the front of the fin. This measurement will control the amount of pressure on the tip of the ski at the finish of the turn. Adjusting the fin depth similar amounts in both the front rear of the ski will help adjust the ski to the skill level of the skier. A shallow fin will make a quicker turn which is a benefit for beginners. The more angle you carry out of a turn thru the wakes the more you will prefer a deeper fin. If your ski slides out at the finish of a turn, adjust the fin to sit deeper in the water. If your ski is hard to turn try adjusting the fin so it sits shallower in the water.
The brake or wing on a ski is often misused by beginners. We recommend that beginners consider removing the fin entirely. The fin is designed to help the ski slow down before a turn. Most skiers should run between 7 and 10 degrees of angle. If you move the fin forward in the ski you will need more wing angle to achieve the same result. The inverse is also true; if you move the fin to the rear of the ski you will need less angle. Some of the pros prefer to install the fin upside down.
Now you know the basics. Good Luck!