The "Flight Log"
Water Ski and the
United States Hydrofoil Association!
What is USHA?
United States Hydrofoil Association (USHA) is the
sport’s governing body for hydrofoil skiers and events.
USHA is a sport division of USA Water Ski, the governing
body for organized water skiing within the United
What does USA Water Ski do?
Water Ski sanctions water ski tournaments across the
country for competitors of all ages and abilities in
each of its sport divisions. USA Water Ski provides
guidelines and support for tournament hosts, officials
and boat drivers; protects your right to access the
nation’s waterways; and provides secondary personal
injury insurance coverage to members! USA Water Ski also
publishes 9 issues of The Water Skier per year.
For a complete profile of USA Water Ski, check out the
web site at
What are fly-ins?
fly-in is a fun event for hydrofoilers of all abilities.
From 30 to over 100 people gather at a lake and spend 3
to 4 days skiing together. Learn new skills and tricks,
meet other hydrofoilers, and watch the pros show off
their stuff. The best part is you get to ski as much as
you want behind a variety of top quality ski boats.
Fly-ins are the best place to improve your skills, no
matter what your level of riding. For locations and
dates, visit www.hydrofoil.org or call Sky Ski at
888-SKY-SKI1 or Air Chair at 928-505-2226.
Why should I join USA Waterski for USHA?
Because you love hydrofoiling, want to learn more about
the sport, or want to support the skiers! USA Water Ski
membership benefits include eligibility to attend
fly-ins and compete in USA Water Ski sanctioned events;
The Water Skier magazine; $10,000 of secondary
personal injury insurance when competing in USA Water
Ski events; and coupons worth hundreds of dollars in
discounts. Specify ‘HYD’ as your sports discipline for
USA Water Ski, and you’ll automatically be a member of
USHA. We can include the USHA membership at no extra
cost thanks to the generous contributions of our
What if I don’t plan to attend fly-ins or compete?
can join USA Water Ski as a Supporting Member for $25
and specify ‘HYD’ as your primary choice in the Sports
Discipline category to support USHA. The whole family
can join as Supporting Members for only $40. Either way,
you’ll get one year of the magazine The Water Skier,
plus all the other advantages of membership – you just
can’t participate in sanctioned events like fly-ins and
Do you have to be a good skier?
USHA and USA Water Ski can help support all types of
people, from non-skiers to people new to the sport to
Do I have to be a USA Water Ski member to participate in
USA Water Ski or USHA events?
How do I join?
USA Water Ski and support USHA today by visiting
All it takes is five minutes of your time. Make sure to
choose Hydrofoil as your primary Sports Discipline.
How can I find or locate other hydrofoil skiers in my
Joining an e-mail list is the best way to meet hydrofoil
skiers in your area and get tips from others skiers
across the world. Sign up for the discussion list by
How do I find out about hydrofoil events?
dates and locations for major hydrofoil events and
fly-ins can be found on
call Air Chair at 928-505-2226 or Sky Ski at
Where else can I find photos, videos, tutorials, and
you have any questions or comments concerning USA Water
Ski/USHA membership, contact us via e-mail at:
or by mail at:
Starlight Place, Lutherville, MD 21093
This article discusses style as it
pertains to hydrofoiling. People don’t often think
about how to improve the style of their tricks and some
don’t understand what style is all about. Hopefully,
this article will help people to think about adding
style to their tricks and give some guidance about how
to start implementing more style in their riding.
In most of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour
events, the riders are judged based on three categories;
technical, air, and style. The
technical category is about judging the difficulty
of a particular trick. Most of the time, each trick
already has a difficulty rating prior to the event, so
it is relatively straightforward. The air
category is about judging the height of each trick. The
judges make subjective calls on how high each rider is
going, since there is no real objective way of measuring
the height. Regardless, the air category makes sense to
people because it is simple…the higher, the better. The
style category tends to bring up many questions... How
do you score high in style? What is “good” style? How
do I know if my style is better than the other person’s
style? It makes sense that these questions arise with
the style category, because it is the most subjective
So what exactly is style and who
cares about style anyway? Let us look at the simple
progression of learning a simple backroll to see where
style fits in.
The first step is to just land the
backroll. During this phase, you are working out the
mechanics of how to do an off-axis invert and ride it
away. By landing this trick, you have technically
completed a level 5 trick (technical category example),
but your air was probably pretty low and your
style…well, what style?
The second step is to go bigger.
As you get more and more air, the landings become more
consistent. Pretty soon you can land a backroll every
time and feel like you are getting some good hang time.
This is where a lot of people stop the progression of an
individual trick. Guess what the next step is?
The third step is to add style.
Now that you’ve mastered the consistency of the backroll,
it is time to become creative with the trick. What
exactly does this mean? Well, there is not really a
concrete answer, because that’s the nature of
creativity. If you look at the meaning of the word
style you’ll see words like these: “expression”,
“distinctive”, “individuality”, “finesse”, etc. So,
having the “best” style requires some thought about how
you would like each individual trick to look. Adding
style to your tricks will definitely take your riding to
the next level, so how do you go about doing that?
The first step of adding style
usually revolves around laying out the invert. This
starts to show that you are in control of the trick
rather than being at the mercy of the trick. Having
good control of the trick is a part of adding style,
i.e. making the trick look easy/effortless = good
style. Laying out a trick is generally accepted as
something that looks better from the spectator point of
view versus staying tucked, i.e. people like it = good
style. The last point is that it starts to separate
your trick from the majority of other people that are
landing the trick, i.e. making an ordinary trick look
unique = good style.
After you have figured out how to
lay out the trick, the next step usually deals with
figuring out something new to do with the time you are
gracefully floating through the air. Some people point
at the spectators, some people run their fingers through
their hair, and some people even cover their eyes before
the landing. This is all good, fun, and somewhat
unique. But, it is usually just the first step to doing
more difficult things while floating through the air.
The most common is to figure out how to grab the board.
Grabbing the board while in the air
is generally accepted as a good thing to do to improve
your style. Again, it shows that you have great control
of the trick, it is something that separates your trick
from someone else that has started landing the trick,
and spectators like the looks of a good board grab.
Yes…good board grab. If you are slapping the
board real fast and flailing your arm through the air,
that’s going to detract from your style, since it
doesn’t look like you are in control. A solid board
grab with good hold time during your hang time is key!
So is style just about laying out
an invert and grabbing the board? No, but it is
generally a really good start to taking your tricks to
the next level and upping the style points. Let’s use
some examples of the master’s of hydrofoil style:
Andrew Pilkinton and Jake Bradley. These two people
ALWAYS scored higher than anyone else in the style
categories. So what was their secret? No secrets, just
learn from their examples…
- Andrew would do a strut grab
on the backflip and HOLD the grab longer than anyone
else, while looking straight at the people in the
boat…the whole way around.
- Jake was the first to layout
the backroll with an inside mullet grab (grab near
the tail and with the hand that people can see from
the boat). This took the stock backroll that
everyone throws and gave it great flare.
- Andrew had great layout front
flips, but it was really impressive when he was the
first to do solid tail grabs on the front
flip…without getting off-axis and staying fluid all
the way through.
- Jake took the floater front
flip to a new level by laying out the front flip and
completely extending his arms straight out like a
swan dive when he let go of the handle. When Jake
threw his floater front flip, no one in the boat
ever asks “did he let go on that one?”
Do you start to see the trend now?
The people with great style are thinking of ways to take
a stock trick and make it look cooler, make it look
unique, and keep it looking fluid and smooth. There is
no set prescription to improve your style… it could be a
certain placement of the grab, how long you hold the
grab, doing a grab on a trick that no one else does, a
certain way you release the handle (early in the trick,
late in the trick, or all the way through), or some
combination of these things, or things that aren’t even
thought of yet.
Hopefully this article will help
you to think of how you can improve the “style” of your
own tricks. Don’t stop thinking about a trick after
you’ve mastered consistently landing it with some decent
air…Think of how you are going to get people in the boat
to say, “Wow, that looks cool!” Think of how your set
of tricks will look different than everyone else’s
tricks at the next fly-in. You know that you have good
style when you start seeing people throw the trick like
you do or when someone says, “I want my trick to look
Skiing in cold weather
How to be safe & have fun.
Remember the old 100 degree rule?
If the combined water & air temperatures don’t exceed
100 degrees, then it’s not skiing weather. Winters are
tough on waterskiers. We have boat payments and
thousands of dollars in equipment invested. Lengthening
your season is a great way to help justify the
Maybe it’s December and the air
temperatures are in the 40s & 50s. Water temps can be
that cold easily, and a rider can get hypothermia in a
matter of minutes. Even if you don’t get hypothermia,
this is supposed to be a fun sport. Why torture
yourself? You don’t have to. With the right equipment,
you can enjoy skiing in cooler temps and have a great
time doing it. Not just wetsuits. They’re fine for
winters in Florida. We’re talking real protection from
the wind chill and the water / air temps. And not just
for the skier, but for those in the boat too! Keeping
everyone warm will ensure that mom and the kids come out
in the future……. and have a good time.
So here is a list of equipment for
- Drysuit – Made from neoprene, a
baggy nylon shell or a combination of the two. Drysuits
made specifically for foil riders are sold by
Wiley’s Waterski Shop &
Adrenaline Watersports. They are made with a cordura
non-skid seat, Velcro wrist cuffs over the seals & feet
attached to the ankle replacing the seal. It’s not
uncommon for foil riders to wear one of these suits over
their jeans, sweatshirt & socks. The only thing getting
wet will be their head & hands.
- Gloves – Dry gloves made from
heavy rubber & seal at the drysuit wrist seal available
at most waterski shops. Or diving gloves made from 4 – 6
mm neoprene, available from any dive shop. Most riders
prefer the diving gloves.
- Neoprene hood, headband or mask.
- Heater – Can be installed on most boats with
open or closed water-cooled engines. Vents & hot tubes
can be installed throughout the boat for everyone.
Heaters are made by
- Hot water shower – Using warm
water helps bring your hands & feet back to life after
skiing in cold water. Showers made by
- Hot Wrap blankets – Polar fleece
blanket with waterproof nylon shell on top & Velcro hole
at the feet to allow heater hot tube to be attached,
filling the blanket with warm air. Great for keeping
your driver & spotters toasty! Available from
Full or partial canvas on the boat. It’s unusual for
inboards, but any boat shop can custom make protection
for the top, front, sides & rear of the passenger area.
- A thermos full of your favorite
cold weather beverage!
When skiing in cooler temps, the
best thing you can do is keep dry. And when you get wet,
get dry quickly. So bring towels with you. Dry off your
head, hands & feet. Wear a hat to keep the heat in. You
will lose more heat out of your head than any other part
of your body.
When you get in the boat after
skiing, using the warm water shower is great for warming
your hands & feet. Then dry them off.
But showers can be a pain. They
leak inside the boat. It’s one more thing to winterize.
If you get it scalding hot, you run the risk of burning
someone. And the excessive heat can break down the
adhesives used in drysuit seals. So try using your
heater in the same situation. Wrap your hands and/or
feet in a towel & point the hot tube in there. You’ll be
warm in no time!
A poor man’s shower is very easy to
setup. It’s an old polar bear swimmer’s trick. Just fill
a cooler with a lid with warm water & leave it sitting
on the dock or beach. As the skiers get done riding,
they can warm up their hands & feet in there. Close the
lid when it’s not being used & it will stay warm for
Setup your boat so you can easily
winterize it in a few minutes at the boat ramp. A closed
cooled system filled with antifreeze is ideal. But most
boats can be setup with easy opening petcocks at each
drain. Installing automotive radiator flush Ts in the
heater & shower hoses at their lowest point in the bilge
allows you to drain each system in seconds. Then as you
pull the boat out of the lake, all you have to do is
open each petcock and pull the cap off each flush T so
they all drain into the bilge. Then pull the hull plug &
drain the bilge too. Once everything is open, bump start
the motor for 1 second & then shut it down. This will
blow out the remaining water in the engine & exhaust and
Hope this helps a few people enjoy
skiing in the cool weather. Here in the Pacific NW, we
use many of these tips for 5 or 6 months of the year!
Malibu... Probably the ultimate in cold weather foiling
Before trying this full
twisting invert, I recommend you be very confident in
your riding, having already performed several different
With that given, you must
first master getting in the wrapped position. I
recommend going out on the opposite side you want to
throw this mobius, cut away from the wake, and then cut
back towards the wake, creating enough slack to allow
you to pull in on the rope, and reach around behind your
back with the arm that will be holding the rope for the
start of this trick.
So, if you want to do the
Ball-n-Chain on the left side of the wake, or Passenger
side, you cut to the driver's side, cut back to the
wake, and reach around with your left hand and grab the
rope. Then, you want to put the rope on your belt line,
and hold the rope in the center of your back. Cut out
to the Passenger side with a smooth continuous edge, and
right when you are about 45 degrees to the boat, do a
gainer. After you launch, you want to look for the
water directly behind you as if you were doing a gainer,
and then instantly after initiation of the gainer, you
need to look to your left. Be sure to release the line
with your right hand right after you leave the water.
When you are up in the air,
focus on finding the water. It may seem blurry the
first few times you try this, but after you get over the
excitement, you will see your landing. You also do not
want to throw this trick too hard. Almost all people
over rotate the gainer, and don't understand what is
happening, but if you land on your right side, you over
rotated. So, when initiating the gainer, you must do
about ½ of what you normally do. It is because of the
spin that you need to slow it down. That, and the
placement of the rope seems to accelerate your spin.
When you are ¾ of the way around, you want to reach for
the handle with your right arm, and pull the rope in
closer to your body. This will stop your rotation. If
the rope gets yanked out of your hand on takeoff, try to
back off of your cut, and go wider before starting the
Gainer. Remember, you are taking off quite fast, you
only have one hand on the handle, and you have 30-40
pounds of apparatus strapped to you. You have to have
the strength to hold on with this trick.
|Oze Fly-In (2nd Annual) -- February 10th
- 12th, 2006 -- David Brown
Clarence River -- Seelands, New South Wales --
Cypress Gardens Chain Reaction -- April
21st - 23rd, 2006 -- Pro Action Sports, LLC
Cypress Gardens -- Winter Haven, Florida --
Florida Fly-In (7th Annual) -- April 27th
- 30th, 2006 -- Phil Dixon
St. Johns River -- Astor, Florida --
The "Flight Log" is compiled and
published by team
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