Buying Guide
By Jon Gaffney
on 8.23.13

Sprinkler, fire hydrant, beach or pool: they’re all great ways to cool off when the mercury spikes. Then there’s waterskiing. Often overshadowed by its alpine brother, waterskiing is a heck of a lot of fun and doesn’t require donning a neck warmer. It’s also very accessible; with a little bit of coaching even those “unathletic” friends can be up and smiling ear to ear in short order. More experienced skiers can progress to slalom (one ski), the slalom course, or even take a run at bare footing if they so choose. Regardless of the number of skis, there’s nothing like carving a perfect turn and throwing up a 15-foot wall of spray behind you, all under sunny skies and, preferably, with some bikini-clad babes close by. Here’s the gear you need to get there.

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Ski Nautique 200 Open Bow

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Without a boat, your day of waterskiing will never make it off the dock. Open bow ski boats allow more friends to come along for the fun, but usually sacrifice wake quality in the process. Through some boating voodoo, Ski Nautique has managed to retain the same wake properties in the 200 Open Bow as in the closed bow version. This means the same soft, world-record-setting wakes, but with more friends (eight, to be exact) to enjoy them. It’s easy on the eyes with beautiful graphics and an interior worthy of a luxury car. Good looks don’t make the boat though. The 200 comes to bear with 345 hp stock and can be customized up to 450 hp, more than enough to tow you and some friends at the same time.

Masterline 10.75M Dlx Mainline & Monster Team Handle

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A good tow rope is critical to an enjoyable and safe ski set. Lucky for you, Masterline makes tournament-ready ropes. This kit pairs their Monster Team Handle and top-tier 10mm PolyproMAX DLX rope, which uses looped construction for durability. It can section off all the way down to 35 feet if you feel like record chasing, or all the way out to a forgiving 70 feet for beginners.

Radar X-CGA Life Vest

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Floating is usually a plus when you’re in the water (unless you’re like our man Jason Heaton and enjoy hanging out sub-surface). To avoid costly tickets and keep your noggin above water, grab a USGA-approved vest like Radar’s X-CGA. Radar sought to redefine the traditional 5-panel life vest by shifting much of the foam to the ribs, giving the X-CGA better mobility for the upper body and protection for the torso. Consider it your body armor for the waterways.

Straight Line Classic Glove

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Hanging on to a 1-inch handle while a boat with 200+ horse power drags you around can do a number on bare hands. Straight Line understands the sort of protection you need. Their Classic Glove is full-fingered with Amortex fabric sewed on the palm and fingers to provide traction. The skin-tight fit also has a contoured palm and pre-curved fingers to further enhance your grip, because you can’t ski if you can’t hang on.

Quiksilver Syncro 5/4/3 Back Zip Wetsuit

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Depending on where you live, the waterskiing season can be frustratingly short. Do as the surfers do and get a good wetsuit. The Syncro 5/4/3 wetsuit from Quiksilver warms your core with 5mm neoprene and thins to 3-4mm in the extremities for flexibility. What’s more, its Vaporstretch mesh chest panel is lined with hollow fibers for efficient heat retention.

Connelly Quantum Combo Skis

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Getting your friend up for the first time is a fulfilling experience for you and a blast for him — but he’ll need starter skis to get there. These combo skis have less rocker for a more forgiving ride. One of the skis also has a rear toe plate and longer fin for first-time or recreational slalom skiers. An affordable price tag confirms it as a great starter ski.

Barefoot International Universal Contour Barefoot Boom

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Water ski booms are a bit of a luxury. You don’t need them to teach someone to ski, but they certainly make it easier and thus more fun. (You’ll probably even save gas by not having to loop back around over and over again for your buddy who keeps tumbling at the start of a run.) The boom extends off the side of the boat where beginners can hang on and quickly learn the feeling of getting up on two skis, slalom, or barefoot.

HO Freeride

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HO’s newly unveiled Freeride is a ski that both amateurs and pros can truly appreciate. The Freeride is made to live on the open water and allow the rider, advanced or intermediate, to effortlessly carve turns as opposed to chasing buoys. To do so HO took technology from their wakeboard line and developed the Freeride’s Clean Edge Technology, which creates 50% less drag than a conventional slalom ski. It also features a “Shark Fin” that’s surf inspired to give better hold in the choppy conditions that are usually a death wish with a slalom ski. The unique shape also lets Freeride carve and ski at slower speeds than traditional slalom for relaxed runs. Regardless of your skill level and wherever you are, the Freeride will provide for some great open water sets.

HO Animal Boot and RTP (Rear Toe Plate)

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HO’s Animal Boot and RTP are the perfect binding for a laid-back ski like the Freeride. Each has left and right anatomical footbeds for comfort and to reduce the chance of foot cramps. The boot is a rear entry lace system reminiscent of a snowboard boot. The EVA tongue of the boot can even be heat molded to your specific foot shape.

Overton’s Gladiator Padded Ski Case

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When it’s time to head to someone else’s lake for some runs, a gear bag always comes in handy. Overton’s Gladiator bag fits whichever ski you chose (just select the proper length) and protects with serious padding. There are multiple pockets for your gloves and whatever else you need for a fun day or weekend outing.