Here’s your chance to get lessons from one of the world’s best water ski tournament drivers.
DEA Agent Chad Scott has mastered the art of driving a perfect boat path in the course. The 43-year-old Covington, Louisiana, Big Dawg skier has been ramping up his driving skills over the last decade, and in 2010 he pulled both the men’s and women’s world slalom records. Can you say “tournament driver of the year”? Yes! Here’s the breakdown of what makes Scott such a great driver, from the man himself.
Set up a driver-friendly boat.
Weight the boat properly so it doesn’t lean one way or the other. Put enough torque on the rudder so that you can feel the skier and know where the skier is at all times in the course. The boat should not feel like a bass boat going through the course. I utilize the adjustable rudder tab on my 2011 Malibu Response LXi to add just the right amount of torque on the rudder, making it easier to pull shortline skiers.
Get in synch with the skier.
Be aware of what is happening behind you. The technique I have used and learned from great drivers like Chris Eller, Dana Reed and Tommy Harrington is to slightly turn the wheel away from the skier as the skier is finishing the turn and skiing back to the handle. If you do this at the right time you will keep the line tight and give the skier leverage to rotate on at the finish of the turn. If you wait too long, the skier will turn into a loose line, fall backwards and take a hit before accelerating to the next buoy. If the skier takes a hit, so will the boat, and then as a driver you will be chasing the skier till the end of the course.
Drive a lot, and get feedback.
Driving is like skiing: You must practice and pull skiers to get better. Don’t be afraid to ask the skiers how the pull feels because I guarantee you, skiers are telling everyone on the starting dock how it feels. If you are the driver, you might as well be in the loop.
It is better to look down the course rather than focusing on each set of boat guides. If your focus is down the course, it will be much easier to maintain a straight boat path. Look at the boat guides and you will probably end up on that side of the course you are looking at.