Hitting the wall at -35 off, Behind the boat vs High on Boat slalom.

GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 269 Baller
edited October 2017 in Technique & Theory
With the change in technique and equipment over the past 3-4 years my ski buddies and I have been getting through -32 off consistently by using, and I guess rwefining, what I call "Behind the boat" slalom. Where a decent stacked position after the ball will get you far enough and fast enough across the wakes to run all 6.

The problem for us seems to be at cutting the rope to -35 off.
It's like we're in a different world and it in my case, might as well be 38 off.

I find I'm coming in AT the ball with very little chance of getting it and typically only score 2-3 balls. Honestly I'm not close to running this pass yet trying to improve by free-skiing at 35 off with consistent decent turns! It's like there's 2 worlds: Behind the Boat slalom, ("BHB") 15-32 off, and beside or High on the Boat ("HOB") slalom. I have read the GUT articles dozens of times and can't unlock the secret.

In the videos I've watched, (many dozens of them!) -35 off seems so,..well, easy! Set up a good glide, stacked position, cut decently, but briefly for 1 ball, keep the handle close till course width, reach with a small counter, fully turn the ski, hook up in the great stacked position you started with and zoom across the wakes in the early and wide position you came in with! Voila! "Lather, Rince, and repeat" I swear it looks like I'm pulling harder at 28 off than it seems any of the guys or gals running to 38 are doing at 32 off!
I have coached guys going through -38 off on proper technique, and can recite each detail and aspect of a great pass at very short line. Translating it to our skiing is a different matter.

It almost looks like I have to do a drastic style and strategy change that includes cutting and gliding much higher and wider for 1 ball setup, cutting with much more intensity enroute to 1 and gliding out super-wide and high to run this advanced pass. I mean a drastic change, not a refinement of my present technique.

My issue / question is to that point: is 35 off such a significant difference in technique that I should effectively throw out what we've got vs refine and do more? I feel that the skills and strengths we've built getting through -32 at this top of the scale for Behind the Boat (BHB)slalom, don't serve us well enough to have a decent chance at -35?!

So what were your breakthrough techniques, thinking or strategy changes that clicked and made -35 off consistent?

Here's a link to some 32 off practice,

I put it here to show where I'm at, but I'd really like to comments on keys in breaking through to decent -35 off.
I need to ski back to the handle obviously.


  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 706 Crazy Baller
    What @Bruce_Butterfield said.
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
  • RichRich Posts: 246 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Bruce is right on point. Put some tape on the side of the boat in your free skiing so you will know you are getting wide on the boat. You are getting close
  • SethroSethro Posts: 200 Baller
    I'm at the same point you are. Last time out in the course, I got my typical 3 at -35 then decided to slow the boat down to 32mph and fairly easily made a few passes at -35....but it taught me that I need to get WIDE enough to make a -35 pass no matter the speed. The first pass at 32 mph I caught myself at 1 and 2 ball not carrying the handle out far enough and also not fully extending the reach. These were things I knew I needed to do, but to be able to feel it at 32 mph where I seemingly had some time to think really helped out.

    Though tired, I sped back up to 34mph and made 4 and just kissed the inside of 5(celebrating thinking I was going to run it) as I flattened out for a moment coming out of the turn at 4 ball.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 269 Baller
    @Bruce_Butterfield Thanks for the info. I guess I'm just surprised that it might be as simple as that. (Although I'm not saying it's easy!) I, at one time thought about going to 36 mph as it would give me more speed while wide and high of the boat. I bailed on that idea while remembering some of the spectacular falls I had in the 80's while competing in Open Men.

    @Rich I will definitely put a piece of tape on the boat to make a marker to achieve the width and height for -35. Great idea.
    I recall in The GUT articles there was a drill that talked about going super wide, doing a front foot slow turn in for 1ball and following the handle path higher on the boat. Then no turn, just glide, then turn again like a 1 ball turn to get used to the speed, angle and timing.
    I did this drill one time at Phillip Tellier's place on the st Lawrence but haven't done it since.
    It's interesting that we spent all of the 80's working on the turn trying to slow down, now in the new millennia speed and control are king!

    I've learned early speed from a very wide position is the best, allows us to get wide and high earlier and bleed off speed well before the oncoming ball's turn.
    I found during the whip drill I have killer speed that might be delayed or late.
    Got to work on that aspect too.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • John BrooksJohn Brooks Posts: 280 Crazy Baller
    @GaryWilkinson You may also want to place a noodle with an anchor (a brick or similar) as a zero ball which may help you pull out, stay out and turn in with sufficient angle. This is a great training tool, IMO.
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 269 Baller
    @John Brooks great idea John. I shall try it.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,033 Mega Baller
    edited October 2017
    @GaryWilkinson one of the Denali boys was talking about a beat the boat drill in another thread. I forget whether it was @AdamCord or @adamhcaldwell. Basically it was pull out wide like you are turning in for the gate and work all the way through the wakes and try to get ahead of the boat on the other side. Then repeat from the 2-4 side. I have never done it as I am in recovery mode right now but I love the sound of the drill. Hopefully I represented it correctly.

    I think that drill can help with 35 off. Two things I found helped me at 35 off was to make sure I stretched at the ball. I used to think about skiing away from the handle to make the turn then skiing back to it. The second thing was to realize that you only need to get the ski around the ball not your whole body. I only ran 35 once but my last season I was really healthy I was running 3, 4 & 5 regularly and I ran 3.5 and 4 in tournaments a few times.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gavskigavski Posts: 162 Baller
    Have a re-read of this thread:


    Insightful as hell...
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 269 Baller
    @Chef23 ya mark, that's the drill I was describing above but only had the chance to do it one time this year. With our season coming to a sudden end this week, (forecast low tonight is for just above freezing) I may get out one or 2 more times and will definitely do the drill.

    But I really like your advice on developing a better reach by "skiing away from the handle" gives a great visual for extending at the apex of the turn.
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
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