At the End of My Rope

Technology sometimes usurps tradition.

At the End of My Rope

I am an old snow skier, going back to the 1970s. I raced NASTAR (National Standard Race), wore wayfarer-style shades and rode long skis from Attitash in New Hampshire to Aspen, Colorado, to every country with an Alp.

When they came out with shape skis, which are those with a parabolic shape designed to make turning easier, I chuffed. It was much the way a few boaters who run twin inboards balk at the idea of pod drives: on principle, not out of experience. I was too proud, too dumb or just too stuck in my ways to give up my knee-wrenching, thigh-burning 210-centimeter long boards in favor of shorter skis that would work as well with way less effort. Not to mention way less wear on my body, which can now forecast rain better than NOAA.

Fast-forward to the evening not long ago when I was composing this editorial page. The phone rings. It's Jim Emmons, former publisher at our sister publication now titled TransWorld Wakeboarding. Jim's now an entrepreneur of some repute. Of late, he's hawking a thing called the Zup. Yup, Zup.

Zup is a board that you ride towed behind a boat. The difference is that it’s designed and built to ensure that people of varying ability — the young, the old, the fit and not so fit — can get up on the water and ride. I immediately thought of my initial reaction to shape skis and pod drives 30 and 12 years ago, respectively. Then I hung up and assigned a writer to spend a day at the end of a tow rope to test Zup (too late to make this issue, but that review is coming soon). I might not be the quickest learner, but I do believe one ignores history at their peril.

Advances in technology notwithstanding, you don’t need to be a super athlete to enjoy water skiing, wakeboarding, wakeskating and wakesurfing. Sure, YouTube’s chock full of videos immortalizing flips and big air, but these sports remain accessibly fun for just about every member of a boating family. Even at the novice “scaredy-cat” level, tow sports bring family and friends together in a way that reinforces bonds, creates a sense of accomplishment, requires some specialized boat-handling procedures and, best of all, happens on the water and on your boat.

For these reasons, we've included step-by-step instructions for installing a wakeboard tower in this month's Weekend Workbook and produced a companion video on the subject as well. In fact, we've dedicated the entire June 2013 issue to water sports, and if you have half as much fun aboard your boat as we had testing the boats and products herein, you are living large indeed.