I don't have the 40 years experience like many of you. But I shared this with my former collegiate team and thought it would fit here as well. Long story short, always be ready for the unexpected.
A few nights ago I experienced a jump crash that I hope to never see again. It was a casual open ski night at a local private lake. He was someone I didn't know, but I decided to stick in the boat for a few more skiers after riding for a friend. He was just taking some soft singles... and he looked pretty good. But then he lost his tips. Head to toe, everything hit the water simultaneously. Similar to a big belly flop or barefooting faceplant. It was nasty. He popped up momentarily with his hand in the air but the boat still spun right around to speed back to him. That little hand motion after impact was the only one. He then rolled face down in the water. We pulled up yelling his name to no response. He was knocked unconscious. I jumped to him, lifted his head, and wrapped my arms around his waist. He suddenly sparked back and coughed up lots of water. I slowly brought him to the platform and we let him rest for awhile. He remembered the jump, the impact, but the rest felt like a dream. Clearly sore and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
This wasn't a tournament. There was no safety. I've ridden in the boat for numerous collegiate jumpers and friends. I grew up on the water. I'm sure there's clearly things I could have done better or different. But with a relatively unaware or no passenger at all in the boat who knows what would have happened.
If you have similar experiences, feel free to share. This isn't meant to be a pat on the back, but rather a reminder to practice safety and have proper measures in place. It goes to show that this can happen in any event... at any speed.