Handcrafted from ash wood under the skillful eye of Bob Maher at his workshop in 1966, a special ski was created. Of course, every custom ski Maher has produced since 1950 is unique in some form or fashion. But this Maherajah 3.5, with its classic pointed tip, sharp bevels and fl at rocker design, would help define a future water ski legend’s young career.
Enter 13-year-old California native Kris LaPoint. With his new wooden tunnel concave Maherajah, LaPoint arrived at the Tournament of Champions in San Diego’s Mission Bay only to discover that his junior boys division was not allowed in the event. His only option was to compete in the older boys’ age division, which required skiing at 36 mph, a considerable departure from his usual 34 mph boat speed. The news didn’t phase LaPoint one bit. The tall, lanky teenager miraculously adapted to the increased boat speed and blazed the course, setting a new world slalom record with three buoys at 36 off (equivalent to 35 off/12m today). It was the first of seven world records for LaPoint, and the occasion marked the beginning of an era of dominance he had on the special ski.
From 1966 to 1972, LaPoint and his famed Maha accomplished great things on the water, like winning five Masters titles, the first being in 1967 when he won the event by an amazing 16 buoys over his second-place competitor. “It was definitely my hay day,” recalls LaPoint. “Although I won quite a few events later in my career, my most dominant time was on that ski in the late ’60s and early ’70s.” LaPoint is, without a doubt, the enduring face of pro water skiing.
We invited four skiers to experience the record-setting Maherajah for themselves. Here’s what they had to say.
WILL ASHER: I had always wanted to ride a wooden ski, so when LaPoint pulled out this bad-ass wooden Maherajah after the finals of the Diablo Shores Pro Am last year, it was time to give it a go. After all, how many skiers get to ride history?
One look at the bindings, though, and I questioned what I was doing. You know when you laugh at beginners in combo bindings? Well, I felt like the joke was on me. They didn’t look like they’d give much support. I believe I went out at 30 mph, 32 off. When I pulled out for my gate I remember thinking, “Wow, this feels all right.” As I got into my cut, it didn’t feel too bad, either. When I crossed the second wake, I got my weight forward like I normally do, and all of a sudden, I get this huge break at the waist. The ski just starts pulling back to the buoy! It had wicked pull to the inside.
I was like, “Oh my God, I’m about to kill myself on a Maha.” I thought it was going to break. I recovered nicely out of one-ball, though, and the ski actually felt like it kept good direction across course. I attacked off the second wake and actually turned two-ball pretty well. When I got to three-ball, the ski reacted the same way it did at one and I buried the tip. Unfortunately, the front binding broke in the process. I felt bad. When you have a ski that you cherish, you don’t want anything to happen to it. LaPoint just laughed about it. I could tell that it meant a lot to him that other skiers were riding his old record-setting ski. The guy just loves the sport.