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Cold Vs Warm Water: and the effect on ski and settings

After reading the comments on the vapour 2016 fin settings, and the discussions regarding water temp and viscositiy and its effect on the ski, I would be interested to look at it further, down here in NZ our water them ranges from 10deg C in winter to 23-24deg C in summer, would be interested to hear from you and your thoughts/ experiments on ski and fin settings, and maybe theories on why these changes occur.


  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    Well, I am just a dumb skier with little to no engineering "science"....... BUT.....

    I ski on a river that is between 44 degrees F and 64 degrees F. Then ski tournaments on lakes that are 70 degrees to 80+ degrees F. I know that in order to have a working ski, I have to move my front binding ahead in COLDER water and back in WARMER water. Somewhat the same in shallow and deep water for that matter. I call it the cheap lawn chair test. If I fold like a cheap lawn chair on my off side, I have to move front binding back. I tend to use that as my "breaking point."

    On fin, I tend to find my sweet spot and use the bindings as my adjustment. However, I do add DFT as it gets really cold. Possibly even remove depth to free the ski up a hair, but that is only on a winter set on my river. We are in the upper 50's right now and I have not moved my fin yet, just ahead an 1/8th from the private warmer ski lakes.
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,321 Mega Baller
    I ski a wide range of water from near freezing to 80F, 4ft deep to 30ft deep, and crystal clear to really murkey. What I've found is warm, shallower (to a point), and murkier feel slower than colder, deeper, clearer. For depth, too shallow and the ski tries to over turn a little bit. Despite that, I never play with settings to account for water. I figure if I'm doing my job right bindings up that the conditions below the ski don't seem to matter very much. The slower water to a point can be more fun though.
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,255 Crazy Baller
    Well here we go again. The debate as to which is slower, cold or hot, and what to do to your ski to adjust for temp changes. My ski partner and I discussed today the seeming feel that the ski doesn't finish the same in cooler water. We wondered if denser water (again the debate) reduces the "schmeer" factor. If so, would shallower settings be in order, or another fin with a couple of extra holes in it.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2015
    I still believe, if you are willing to tweak slightly on atleast binding placement between different waters, you have the potential to ski oh so well! Just think what you may have left on the table.........
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • SkislalomSkislalom Posts: 34 Baller
    I have given this a bit of thought this morning, I feel that in 50f water my ski feel "skitterish" like it skates over the water, rather than bites, and drives, I am definantly narrow and with a cold body and brain, it feels faster, most of out club does no adjustment to their ski or binding placement and everyone appears to ski better when the water warms up, maybe that tracker device @horton had would give us the variations, if someone could test it.
  • OldboyIIOldboyII Posts: 542 Solid Baller
    edited October 2015
    @Skislalom Good point.
    It is virtually impossible to make precise experiment to compare ski behaviour on cold and warm water.
    Our body and muscles and brain act differently when cold or warm.
    We ski in shorts & west when warm and in relatively "heavy" wetsuit which put some limitation on movements when cold. Baggy drysuit make it even more noticeable.
    Different skis are made from different materials and they react to temperature variations differently.
    So it may happen that what we think goes from ski in reality goes from our body.
    I hope ski makers can do lab temperature tests for their skis and give recommendations.

    What I personally noticed - in the cold water I feel more confident and agile when I have autumn jogging suit under wetsuit than when I ski in wetsuit only. Though both setups are pretty comfortable and warm.
  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    @Skislalom perfect opportunity for a test. In the colder water conditions try a slight movement forward with bindings. You might be the one at your club to kill it in all conditions/temps. Sounds like that is a GREAT control group of scientific proportions.........
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • scotchipmanscotchipman Posts: 4,015 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited October 2015
  • A_BA_B Posts: 3,992 Mega Baller
    edited October 2015
    You could ask 10 top skiers and half wouldn't adjust and the other half would tell you conflicting setup changes. You have to test and make sure you record dates and temps and see what works for you.
    From my personal testing, I agree mostly with what Rossi wrote. I am somewhat differing on the dft, as a move back will flatten the ski, which is opposite of the other moves, so by itself, I have not found moving the fin back to help.

    Of course, I found that real late in the season when I was just skiing for exercise, a drop in speed helped the tail settle in better and the cold and stiff muscles seemed to like it as well. So no ski change.
  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    I'll remember that when I help my buddy on the cold river tomorrow. Just ski harder and more precisely would ya!
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,253 Mega Baller
    @SkiJay or... The colder it gets the less it wants to get out of the skis way, so the ski rides higher in the water and therefore has less surface area and resistance ;)
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • scotchipmanscotchipman Posts: 4,015 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Drago or...The colder the water the higher the tail rides compared to the tip which puts more ski in the water and more resistance.....
    - President of the Utah Water Ski Club
    - Owner at Still Water Lake Estates
  • SiouxcitysmittySiouxcitysmitty Posts: 37 Baller
    "...The colder the water the higher the tail rides compared to the tip which puts more ski in the water and more resistance....."

    Make sense, but, if this is true, it would seem that the "conventional wisdom" of moving the bindings forward, is the opposite remedy for a higher riding tail.
  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 422 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited October 2015
    Colder water has more drag despite having more or less wetted surface area on the ski. Not so simply, a function of Viscosity, Speed, area and resultant Reynolds number we are operating in.

    The tail will ride higher, and if planing angle gets too flat because of that, you start engaging tip bevels too much or too soon into the first wake and off the second, killing ability to create effective speed, or maintain desired trajectory off the second wake.

    Typically fin back moved are needed, as well as slightly less length, and/or sometimes more depth. Boots back is also an option in some situations. Adjustments are a little different for everyone, but concept is the same.

    People's perspective of colder water feeling so fast is because they loose the ability to create space before the buoy, and more importantly, getting up on the boat and "free".

    It's less about creating more speed or less speed, and more about giving the ski an opportunity to take the speed generated into the first wake on the right trajectory into the buoy.

    Colder water forces the ski to turn downcourse earlier if no adjustments are made, thus making the turn radius longer and path narrower. Making it very challenging to make a tight/fast turn on the back of the buoy.

    A couple small 2-3/1000s movements every 7-10degs can keep your scores high moving into cold water seasons.

    My belief is that cold water is misunderstood because there's a lot more going on than changes in viscosity. It's also a function of speed, surface roughness, surface area, etc, and the compounding impact on drag, which is no where near a linear function as everyone seems to think/believe.
  • ktm300ktm300 Posts: 387 Baller
    @adamhcaldwell Please explain the fin back move. Seems that flattens the ski even more; more tip down? Does the attached PDF have any validity. Mind you, I'm not arguing; just asking. I have discussed this with top pros and get answers that are all over the place and contradictory to one another. Having you throw some science on it would be great. Thanks for helping educate us!
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 679 Crazy Baller
    Thanks all for explaining a few things for a intermediate skier ([email protected] off).

    Even though I have a lot of limitations that are not water related I recognize a few things.
    I currently ski in colder water (44F) and have problems.
    - Turns are even wider
    - More falls when ski 'slip's' on surface
    - A few OTF that I have not made in a long time
    - Gate seems to be more narrow with my normal pull out

    I felt great coming into the turn and then the ski just slipped away...

    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 679 Crazy Baller
    What effect could be achieved by just adjust the wing instead of moving the fin?

    I.E. could this be an advice to a intermediate skier like me that already fight inconsistency 99% of the time but still seem to experience cold water effect? :p
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 5,895
    edited October 2015
    I think a lot of people think backwards in comparison to @adamhcaldwell 's explanation. Which I think creates a lot of confusion. I think most people think that moving the fin back drops the tip because of the longer lever arm that it creates and don't consider that it pushes the ski out out in front.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • DanoDano Posts: 105 Baller
    edited October 2015
    Not the effect of cold water here, but maybe relevant. A few days ago I was having a really hard time with my ski. I was having a very difficult time rolling up on edge, Couldn't build any speed, couldn't get wide, and it simply did not want to turn offside. Because I'm only a [email protected] skier I thought maybe just a bad day. I read this thread and decided to try a fin move because our water temp has fallen rather quickly here. So I measure my fins current position and determine my Fin length was 6.95". It had moved from where I originally set it at 6.845. I reset it to 6.845 and couldn't believe the difference. All is good again.

    I realize that fin was out by a lot. But I wouldn't have thought the ski would behave so much differently, especially at my level. If your having trouble with cold water try a fin adjustment.
  • lcarneslcarnes Posts: 111 Solid Baller
    We hit 32 degrees in the morning for the first time Saturday morning, and it's been dropping that low every morning since. That just happened to coincide to me not being able to run even a decent opener. The ski was flying past the buoy and I couldn't get it slowed down to turn for the next buoy, although the skied turned fine once I had it slowed down enough.

    I texted Adam Caldwell with my dilemma and after some back and forth on what the ski was doing, he suggested a 5/1000 move back. I couldn't imagine that such a tiny move could make a difference. It was truly noticeable from the beginning ...I skied some of my best passes of the month today.

    What is interesting about this to me is that I ski 30/32 at 15 off. (I'm the low speed Denali guinea pig) While I've always tried to have my fin dialed in, I'm by no means a tweaker. However, this experience has taught me it's worth understanding the differences.
  • JohnCoxJohnCox Posts: 355 Crazy Baller
    I don't move my fin... ;)
    Mapple T2
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    funny thing is I think many of us have always thought of cold water as "fast", when in fact it is not. It feels fast because we generate less speed and less width, and therefore the buoys seem to be coming up really quick. I have not historically adjusted my ski for water temp. In years past I have run -38 in Florida in late September, then returned to MN and run it here in water that was 40 degrees different with no adjustment. Doesn't mean that adjustments don't make sense -- they probably do. I'm just not necessarily the best test case for temperature sensitive skiing.
    Jim Ross
  • scotchipmanscotchipman Posts: 4,015 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I love the insights from @SkiJay who is the person I trust the most when it comes to adjusting fins. For those of you who still don't know SkiJay check out
    - President of the Utah Water Ski Club
    - Owner at Still Water Lake Estates
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,624 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    Density and viscosity changes with temperature are small changes relative to the changes in surface tension. Observe how the droplet of water flattens out in the fry pan as the pan heats up. The droplet changes visibly across the temperature ranges we experience in our ski sites. Cold water is harder. Temperature deniers are wrong!

    I think @adamhcaldwell has it backwards. Cold water has less drag because the cold increased surface tension prevents the ski from riding deeper in the water. This will make the ski less stable on edge and resistant to deceleration. Perhaps you can't get as much acceleration because it is harder to get the ski on edge. I don't challenge his adjustments, just the theory to justify them.

    @GOODESkier 's adjustments make sense to me and my experience. But there are only a couple weeks where my water is cold enough to benefit from adjustments. So I'm lazy and just adjust my style. I do think that moving the bindings is easier and more repeatable than fin changes.

  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 422 Open or 55K Rated Skier

    I agree completely.
  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 422 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited October 2015
    @eleeski -

  • scotchipmanscotchipman Posts: 4,015 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @eleeski Did you see the chart posted by @SkiJay? Density looks to change little with temperature changes as you stated but viscosity looks to change by good amount.
    - President of the Utah Water Ski Club
    - Owner at Still Water Lake Estates
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