By Jon Gaffney
on 9.11.13
Photo by Jon Gaffney/John Tremblay

Waterskiing is simple in concept. Slap a ski on each foot (or one, a.k.a. “slalom”, for the advanced skier), hook a tow rope to a powerful boat, then sit back and hang on. As you improve, the goal evolves from hanging on to getting up on a slalom ski to actually “cutting” on it; after that, there’s the insanely difficult practice of weaving between buoys on the shortest rope possible.

For me, the reality of waterskiing has always been carving the lakes of Maine on my Dad’s late ’80s LaPoint O’Brien “professional” slalom ski. When my Dad bought it, it was top of the line, made from Kevlar and fiberglass and designed by five-time world slalom champ Bob LaPoint. It has a rubber boot that requires dish soap for lube to get it on and off your foot. A non-contoured footbed can leave you with arch cramps when skiing hard. Its rocker (the curvature of the tip and tail of the ski) is subtle, which makes turns harder to handle; a fairly small concavity on the bottom of the ski creates a forgiving ride that is hard to keep on edge in a cut.

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Though I knew I could benefit from a new ski, I weighed these downsides (and the fact that I’m 30 pounds too heavy for my dad’s ski) with the $1,500+ pricetag that comes with modern equipment and decided to hold off for a few summers, not entirely convinced that a half-inch more concavity, tweaked rockers and different edge bevels could make that big of a difference on the water.

Then I got the chance to test the Connelly Prophecy ($1,300+), the most advanced ski in Connelly’s tournament series line, and learned just how far waterskiing equipment has advanced since my dad bought his LaPoint O’Brien. In fact, the Prophecy is the culmination of 48 years of experience and success from the U.S.’s largest water ski manufacturer. It’s built around Connelly’s new five-pound PVC core (their lightest ever), which the brand describes as a “precise blend of carbon and glass”. Add in 35 ounces of resin and 10 minutes in the 175 degree press and a Prophecy is born. The C.A.P.T. (Connelly Active Profile Technology) shape has more rocker than my dad’s ski, with edge-to-edge concavity on the bottom, three V-steps in the hull for better water efficiency and a hand-turned Arcylam base.

Sliding the ski out of its box provided my first impression: even at two inches longer than my dad’s old ski, the Prophecy felt half as heavy. Its Connelly Talon ($300+) bindings were clearly modeled after snowboard boots, with dual laces for excellent adjustment. But there wasn’t much time to gawk. The ski went into its travel case for a trip to the Maine Lakes Region to see how all its technology and a featherlight feel actually translated on the water.

The next morning on the lake, improvements began before I even hit the water. The Talon bindings were easy to get on and off, and their quick lacing system provided a secure fit — no more dish soap needed. Once I got behind the boat and stood up, what had seemed like subtle tweaks on paper became massively important in practice. The Prophecy begged to be laying on its side, cutting hard or chasing buoys; taking in the scenery is not its forte. Slight shifts of weight sent me rocketing in the direction of my choosing. The harder I pushed, the more the ski responded. Turns so hard you can end up facing the wrong way? Check. Holding an edge so well across the wake that your forearms prove the weak link due to centrifugal force? Yup, check that box too.

After five days full of sore muscles and epic wipeouts, the verdict was in. For advanced waterskiers who are committed to a high price, the Connelly Prophecy is one hell of a ski. Thanks to a featherlight weight and advances in rocker and concave shape, this is a rocket under your feet that nearly forces you to push limits. That’s fun — the kind of fun that will have you dying to hit the water at 6 a.m. Well, probably 7:30, but you get the point.

METHODOLOGY: We tested the Connelly Prophecy for five days on the lakes of Maine, chasing flat water, executing perfect (kinda) turns, and crashing and burning at 35 mph.
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