Humor me here; I have a young daughter. Sometimes we say that she swims like a fish. But, I never knew that she could look like a fish as well until I met Oyuky Diaz, founder of Splash Mermaid Tails.
Splash Mermaid Tails
My attention was drawn to the bright colors and patterns in a booth at the Utah Boat Show earlier this year. This was not the standard insurance agent or jewelry cleaner that so often show up. This was something new. Something fun. There were mermaid tails and shark fins all over the booth.
As I talked with Oyuky, I learned about the various designs. All of the tails are designed for swimming. She says that they are safe to swim in, and can actually make a swimmer faster since they’re swinging a full fin instead of two measly legs. She showed me how they are easy to slip on an off when entering or exiting a pool or lake. Then we looked at the dozens of sparkling patterns and colors. It was a good thing that my wife wasn’t there to approve a purchase, or I would have walked out with a few right then.
Then Oyuky showed me something for the boys, like my own son. She makes a neoprene-covered shark fin that they can strap on their backs and imitate the great predator of the deep around the pool or lake. (Just a note, I wouldn’t recommend using these fins in the ocean.) The fins provide a little floatation, but are not meant to be flotation aids.
The booth was a fun break after the vendor trying to convince me to buy a forever lacquer – or wax or something odd – to seal my boat against spray paint.
When you think about it, you attach a boat and trailer that can be worth tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand dollars to a towing vehicle itself worth tens of thousands of dollars with really just a half-inch metal pin – costing only about ten dollars – to hold them together. Are you nervous yet? When I put it that way, even I’m nervous, and I only have to tow my boat twice a year.
What is the Quietite Hitch?
Quietite has created an inventive solution that solves two problems associated with towing. The first issue is the rattle you hear with your hitch insert hanging around empty. It’s just rattling around back there being annoying. This is the smaller solution, but one that you will immediately notice. Through the unique locking mechanism that they’ve devised, the receiver hitch insert wedges securely into place eliminating all rattling. Actually now that I think about it, to my dad this may be the bigger of the two solutions: he hates rattles on his cars.
The second, and probably more critical solution is making the connection between your towing vehicle and your trailer more secure. While every hitch insert in the past has been held in place with just that single metal pin, the Quietite Hitch actually uses the wedging action of their design to attach the hitch mount securely to the vehicle. While they don’t recommend removing the pin, the design makes the pin almost a secondary security measure.
An Elegant Solution
Making both of these solutions happen with just a few twists of one bolt is an amazing and elegant solution. Even more elegant is the fact that when you’re ready to remove the hitch insert, just a few turns of the same bolt will loosen the wedged hitch making it easy to remove again. When you think about the money you spend on either side of the receiver hitch, it really makes the idea of spending a few dollars ON the receiver hitch seem like not only a reasonable, but sound idea.
Now, if they could just do something about the pain when I bang my shin on the receiver…
Radar continued pushing the top end of their performance line in 2016 with all new Vapor skis as well as trickle-down updates to the Senate. The Vapor comes in four varieties of differing construction and performance. You can hear more about these in the interview with Chris.
Bent Vee Line
One complaint that water skiers have is that we can only carve so many turns before we’re exhausted. While good conditioning can extend that by a pass or two, modern skis designed to carve hard at top performance do demand a lot from the skier. That is one reason why Radar created their Bent Vee line of skis, including the Butter Knife and Katana. These skis have a radically different design. They are more hourglass-shaped with a very flat profile through the mid-section. They are designed to be easy up, easy riding skis that can still be a lot of fun for riders of all abilities. Chris was really proud of the work Radar did to create this line this year. This new line slots in where the Radar Theory used to reside.
Chris Sullivan has been a great representative for Radar Skis for several years, but recently he has moved on, making this the last interview I will get to have with him at Radar. I want to thank Chris for his openness toward me and toward all of the skiers I have seen him interact with over the years.
Sorry folks, I just listened to Episode 28, HO Sports RAD and FAD and realized that there was an error in the uploaded file that played back as dead air. I’ve updated the file with the actual audio – crazy thought, I know – and you can now get the updated file to listen to.
If you can’t water ski all week long, then try out the Koastline Katapult. If you want to find out how good spell check is, just try spelling that like the inventors chose to do. Every time I spell it with the letter K at the start of the words, my computer corrects it to Coastline Catapult. I may well pull my hair out by the time I’m done writing about this.
The Koastline Katapult is an inflatable water toy that you float off the back of a house boat or dock. The fun comes in rolling out to the far end, then having a friend jump onto the Koastline Katapult which launches you into the air and drops you into the water.
Kenny Gallegos says that the Koastline Katapultt only takes about 20 minutes to inflate, then provides a whole week of entertainment on the water.
While this is not a water skiing device, it is a great way to get other people off the boat – or off the lake – so that you can get some better water and some time for skiing. Or, if you’ve had all the skiing your body will take for the day, then you, too, can leap onto the Koastline Katapult, roll out to the end, and fly through the air before you cool off and do it again.
If you want to see what this is all about, check out the video below:
Koastline Katapult (the link may be down, but it is the only official contact that I have)
I was introduced to these strange discs at the Utah Boat Show this past February. At first I didn’t know what to make of them, then I started talking with Joe Sassenrath and watching the promo video and realized that I had to have them. (Yes, I really am that easy a mark.)
Is that a tube?
Although the RAD may look similar to a standard tube, the rigid stricture makes it into a different type of water toy. As Joe explains in the interview, HO uses the same construction used in inflatable paddle boards to make the RAD and FAD noticeably different. There is no squishiness like a tube. These are solid toys that allow the user to try lot of different things on them.
When compared to a standard tube, these will stow away in about the same amount of space, either inflated or deflated. We had a big towable for the last few seasons that took over our entire dock closet. Deflating that behemoth and putting in two of the HO Sports RAD toys opened up a lot of space for us.
Tons of Fun
Do you remember those LIFE cereal commercials from the ’80s where the kids pass the cereal off to Mike because he won’t try anything? That’s what my kids are like with water sports. They just don’t try anything, much to their father’s dismay. When the RAD and RAD+ first made it to the lake these were the same way. However, once my kids did finally try them they became a favorite almost instantly. There is a stability to them that makes them easy to start on, then as you get faster, they behave predictably allowing kids to play around while being towed behind the boat.
Aaron Sanford recently commented about how slalom water skiing and bare footing are declining. This caused me to think about the many reasons that our sports may be struggling. As I considered this, I remembered an interview I had earlier this year with HeyDay Inboards.
HeyDay Inboards WT-1
HeyDay Inboards is a new boat manufacturer who currently produce only one boat: the $39,999.95 WT-1. Their big push is that you can finance an easily towable wake surf boat for $299/month. Now, this is not a tournament boat. In fact the 19-foot hull had been designed to throw a wake like a 22-foot boat usually does. However, if HeyDay can produce a boat that can shake up the burgeoning surf industry, how come a company can’t produce a budget tournament boat?
A lot of skiers buy used boats to reduce the cost of entry. Aaron, for example, bought a classic Hydrodyne and put some extensive repair work into it. Others just accept that a used tournament boat could still run $40k – $70k for a late model. In my household, we’re discovering that a used tournament boat is now costing nearly as much as our new one did just five or six years ago.
It all leads to the question of whether the cost of entry to get a new – or even used – tournament boat is one reason for the decline in slalom, three-event, or barefoot skiing. On the flip side of this question is a conversation I had with a salesman at my local Mastercraft dealership a while back. I asked about people financing their purchases, and his response was that many of his customers just pay cash.
I’d love to get your thoughts on the role of the boat in the growth or decline of towed water sports. Is it a factor or not? I’d also love to hear what you think about this HeyDay Inboards WT-1.
With all of the 2015 boat show episodes up now, I’d love your feedback on what was covered. Please fill out the poll below to let me know your favorite interview or product from this year’s boat show episodes.
This episode of the Weekend Water Skier Podcast wraps up the coverage of the Utah Boat Show for 2015. As usual, I bring you something directly related to water skiing, and an unusual product from the show.
HO Skis 2015 with Joe Sassenrath
For the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Sass about what HO is coming out with in their line. This year we focused on the Syndicate ski and HO’s new boot mounting system.
The new Syndicate V-Type ski combines the best characteristics of last year’s S-Type and A-Type ski into one ski that helps simplify the HO precept line, and can work for skiers who favored each of the previous skis. This new ski combines the angle of the A-Type ski with the speed across the wakes of the S-Type Syndicate into one.
We discussed some of the features in this ski, including the speed skin and clean edge technology on the ski as well as a new feature: the damper. The damp is a small weight that attaches to the front of the ski that holds a dampening pad in place to reduce the vibration inherent in carbon water skis. The weight can be moved forward or back to accommodate different skiing styles to keep the optimal amount of ski in the water.
When I learned that this was a functional adjustment on the ski and not just a decorative feature, I thought back to the (yes, I am this old) PSX Power Stix system. However, Joe let me know that this addresses the internal vibration of the ski, rather than attempting to stiffen or soften the ski for various water conditions.
Direct Connect Boot System
Joe was also really excited about a new boot mounting system that HO designed for this year: the Direct Connect Boot System. This new system allows you to connect a boot with only 2 bolts per boot, rather than four, and moves the bolts closer together to improve the flex pattern in the ski compared to traditional bindings that have limited the flex under foot. This also helps reduce the stack height of the binding by eliminating the plate between the ski and boot.
There have been a lot of ideas about how to address the boot-to-ski interface over the past years, some more promising than others. This one takes a simple approach to the problem that seems like it would work pretty well. As I look at it, the only concern it raises for me is with the bolts being center mounted, how much will the boot roll before moving the ski onto edge. Not having ridden a ski with this system yet, I can’t address that question. However, beyond that, the new Direct Connect Boot System looks like an elegant solution to a long-standing problem.
Lillipad Diving Board
Lillipad makes an innovate accessory for pontoon boats: a diving board. This diving board is designed to mount over the side of a boat and allow kids and adults to jump into the lake without rocking the boat. They do this by creating a system of gas shocks that absorb the energy of the bounce within the board rather than pushing it through to the boat.
This diving board has no direct relation to water skiing. However, it stopped me in my tracks as I walked around the boat show. Seeing a diving board hanging off the side of a boat, over the aisle, was quite a surprise.
This would be a great accessory to suggest to your friends who invite you to the lake with them so you can have the best of the pontooning relaxation experience and the waterskiing experience. After wearing yourself out with a couple of morning water ski or wakeboard sessions, you could then relax on the pontoon, and use the diving board to cool off between sessions of sun baking.