How straight should a tournament boat path be?

HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
edited November 2020 in Rules/Politics/Issues
How straight is straight enough? There is a faction of the sport that believes that drivers should attempt be perfectly straight. On the other hand as a skier that might suck. Maybe the drivers should feel free to move the boat 5cm per ball or 10cm per ball or even all the way out to 20cm per ball if that is what is best for the skier.

This all assumes that the driver can put the boat where they want. Using the tolerance for human error is a different subject.

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How straight should a tournament boat path be? 53 votes

The driver should strive to be dead straight
84%
HortonStefanski6jonesA_BRichardDoaneCamPSMBruce_ButterfieldForrestGumpKelvinThan_BoganAlimatthewbrownadamhcaldwelldave2ballraynjjackkrashskiinxsJody_Sealral 45 votes
The driver should be allowed to use up to 5cm per ball to help the skier
3%
skiepphntmski 2 votes
The driver should be allowed to use up to 10cm per ball to help the skier
9%
skidawgskibugdislandbrodyellenm 5 votes
The driver should be allowed to use up to 15cm per ball to help the skier
1%
hammerski 1 vote
The driver should be allowed to use up to 20cm per ball to help the skier
0%
«1

Comments

  • NandoNando Posts: 595 Crazy Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @jjackkrash said it pretty much perfectly- the driver should strive to be perfectly straight; the goal is to give the skier the best possible pull without giving them an unfair advantage.
    Horton
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,365 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    There is “no help” in driving????? In your best Tom Hanks League of Their Own rendition.
    RAWSki
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,350 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    For some reason, I think this may not be just a random poll. I sense a prelude to another topic, announcement, or controversy.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
    HortonWishDaveD
  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    edited November 2020
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    Tolerance is to allow the driver to be less than perfect in keeping a straigth line, but not to help the skier.

    A 9 cm consistent deviation in favor or against the skier would not stand the rule below:


    If an Approved Boat Path Measurement System (see below) is being used, the deviation shall be calculated as being the average of the maximum two deviation measurements taken when the pylon of the boat is within a zone from 10 metres before to 10 metres after the buoy the skier is attempting to round. A minimum of ten deviation measurements must be taken within this zone.

    If an Approved Boat Path Measurement System is being used the Net Cumulative Deviation (favourable deviations shall be offset by unfavourable deviations, the sum of which shall be the Net Cumulative Deviation) shall be also measured throughout the course. If the Net Cumulative Deviation through the course exceeds the allowable Cumulative Deviation Tolerances at any buoy as set forth below, then an optional reride shall be awarded if the Net Cumulative Deviation was a disadvantage to the skier unless the skier makes a complete pass, and a mandatory re-ride shall be required if the Net Cumulative Deviation was an advantage to the skier. If the skier does not complete the pass the Cumulative Deviation up to and including the buoy the skier was attempting to go around must be measured.


    Cumulative Deviation Tolerances

    Buoy Deviation max
    1 20
    2 28
    3 35
    4 40
    5 45
    6 49
    Rodrigo Andai
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 6,632 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    Give the driver some room to move if he gets sacked by the skier and also give ZO some time to relax a bit if it gets whacked. It doesn’t have to grab it all back in that segment.

    Shut up and ski
    A_B
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,001 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    Have I entered a parallel universe where @Horton has embraced metric?
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
    jayskiBruce_ButterfieldMDB1056Zman
  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    Anything below 10 in he measures in cm...
    Rodrigo Andai
    Than_Boganigkya
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    Below are clips from the AWSA rule book.

    10.07 Boat Path
    A. The boat path is intended to be a straight line along the centerline of the
    course.
    B. Where end course is available, the towboat pylon shall not deviate by more
    than 20cm (7.87in) from the course centerline. For instances where end
    course video is not available, the boat shall follow a straight path as close to
    the centerline of the course as possible.
    C. Class E tournaments also see Rule 14.04.B on Record forms.

    1.12 Tolerances
    In any activity involving the performance of an official where a tolerance is involved, it is the official's responsibility to be as close as possible to the actual specification. All tolerances are to allow for human error and the use of tolerances by Officials to improve skier performance will not be tolerated.

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  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    IWWF already considers the specific rule above when using a path controlling system. AWSA's 1.12 rule clearly states that "helping" is not tolerated.
    Rodrigo Andai
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    edited November 2020
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    Here is the rub.

    No one can drive perfectly straight. The tolerance is a necessity. Personally, I am an average-ish driver. I often use up 10cm at every ball up and down the lake and I am really trying to go straight. Get me out of my preferred boat and it gets worse. I have NEVER claimed to be a great driver.

    The very best drivers can keep it under 5cm up and down the lake most of the time.

    Maybe the only negative comments I have heard about SurePath are from some very high end skiers. They think that with real time GPS data drivers will strive to be perfectly straight at the expense of a "feel and rhythm". This is where we get into an interesting grey area.

    If a driver can keep it under 5cm per ball but goes out to 10cm per ball to just "dance" with the skier is that a bad thing? If that is ok then why not 15cm? When does dancing with the skier at only 5cm per ball become pattern driving?

    Driving straight-ish AND and making it feel good for the skier are not necessarily mutually exclusive but require extra skill.

    Don't forget that we need to also account for human error.

    So many shades of grey. I hate shades of grey.

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  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,350 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    I think the answer to this question:

    When does dancing with the skier become pattern driving?

    Is when it occurs:

    when the pylon of the boat is within a zone from 10 metres before to 10 metres after the buoy the skier is attempting to round.

    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    What happens when he dances the other way around with another skier? And when the dance means a world record or a medal?

    Pattern driving is defined by cummulative bias. Human error means you err in both sides and bias is cancelled.

    Tomorrow we will have Sure Path for the first time in a tourney here. And the local joke is that the local Senior skiers will lower their score...
    Rodrigo Andai
    BobFHortonryno65
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @MISkier oddly that is both too black and white and unclear.

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  • jjackkrashjjackkrash Posts: 1,060 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    When sure-path grows into auto steering its best feature will likely be its lack of ability to listen to skiers lobbying on the dock and its lack of caring whether the skier hits a PB or record when it is driving. And I suspect scores will go down at first and top skiers will bitch about the "bad pull" that is straight down the middle.
    HortonCam
  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @horton, on @MISkier's comment, the full text is:

    If an Approved Boat Path Measurement System (see below) is being used, the deviation shall be calculated as being the average of the maximum two deviation measurements taken when the pylon of the boat is within a zone from 10 metres before to 10 metres after the buoy the skier is attempting to round. A minimum of ten deviation measurements must be taken within this zone.
    Rodrigo Andai
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @ral That defines deviation but it does not differentiate between pattern driving ( cheating ) and driver error or an unmanageable boat.

    The math is clear. How to interpret it much more complicated.

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    edited November 2020
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @ral I expect you are going to love SurePath. To me it really is a paradigm shift. I am curious how you will think differently after the weekend.

    I disagree that pattern driving always shows in a positive cumulative. That is part of the problem. Pattern driving is very hard to define but if you know what you are looking for you know it when you see it.

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  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 2,134 Mega Baller
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    First let us define what a tolerance is for:
    An allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity. - Google Definition search result

    Strictly speaking the boat path is “supposed” to be straight as an arrow. Statistically and practically speaking this is improbable if not impossible (@Than_Bogan - run the numbers?). Hence the reason a tolerance is provided.

    I believe a separate subject is the “pull” feel between the skier and boat. The tolerance provides the latitude to do this. But I’m not sure the main intent of the tolerance was for the skier, I think it was for the driver. Has the allowable tolerance changed over the years?

    Another aspect is how the tolerance is counted ie: is it cumulative or individual values for each buoy?

    I would think most boat drivers would want to provide the same pull for each skier. (At least that would be my goal). If they aren’t trying to do that then I would think more questions and concerns of bias would be raised. As a driver if I heard a skier ask me to bias towards one side or the other on even or odd buoys I would tell them to fly a kite. The STANDARD is straight down the course.

    Perhaps this is way off base. But also how I feel about it.
  • marknmarkn Posts: 479 Crazy Baller
    I have the opportunity to regularly ski behind the driver who pulled Open men at the Swiss Pro open. Just as a reference, they were using the SurePath. The driver pulled "all green" in the entire second round and the finals,every pass, and I did not hear one complaint about the driving.
    I think a truly skilled driver can keep the boat "in the green" (with narrow tolerances) and still make it feel good for the skier. His driving is amazing....second only to my wife's.....but she "gives me a little boat".
    jayskiZman
  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    edited November 2020
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @Horton, we can talk a lot about pattern recognition. I work in Advanced Process Control and AI/ML process optimization, so I can tell you that human beings are pretty good at believing they can detect patterns but really bad at it. Machines are far better.

    For the rule, as per what I understand from reading it, if you have a pattern favoring the skier of slightly more than 8 cm in each buoy, you will be out of tolerance.
    Rodrigo Andai
    HortonThan_Bogan
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,798 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @ral By definition with the slalom course being symmetrical with 3 buoys on each side, EVERY pass follows a pattern - literally. My point is, I suspect a human or machine will detect a pattern pretty easily. The hard part is with @Chad_Scott was saying about being
    a "good pattern" or a "bad pattern". I would suggest that a truly random pattern takes a pretty bad driver to get right (or wrong depending on your perspective).

    @Horton probably one of the most beneficial things you can do is to define what pattern driving actually is. Not having a definition is the cause of a lot of misunderstandings and controversy.

    I'll take a stab at part of a definition. There is a difference between a driver "resisting the skier" and counter steering to keep the boat straight and a driver shifting the boat across the centerline of the course BEFORE the line is loaded by the skier. Clearly the effect on the skier is different and, likely, noticeable by the skier. A driver that is "resisting the skier" will use the tolerance if they under or over estimate how much counter steer is needed. Whereas a driver who is shifting the boat across the centerline goes just so far and blocks the boat from moving.

    Watching end course videos for the first driver you tend to see the boat path slowly slide left or right as the balance between the skier load and counter steer vary. However a pull where the driver is shifting from left to right before the line loads tends to be a pretty tight zig-zag down the course with fairly long distances between the movements where the boat travels basically straight.

    I'm not addressing or even suggesting that skiers prefer one way or another but I think what I outlined above are two distinctly different "patterns" of driving that are both in the current tolerances and observable.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

    adamhcaldwellschafer
  • Chad_ScottChad_Scott Posts: 572 Open or Level 9 Skier
    @klindy my point exactly. The definitions are sometimes difficult to actually define with regards to pattern driving. It is the reason I am a big proponent of the gps tracking system and hopefully the powers that be can decide on a clearer definition of the rules as to what is acceptable versus what many have defined as too subjective today I believe the tracking systems will put an end to drivers taking a risk and flirting with the tolerances. The system doesn’t lie and takes the subjectivity out of the equation for the decision makers. Until then .......
    EricKelley
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,798 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Chad_Scott I agree that a gps tracking system will sort a lot if this stuff out quickly.

    At the risk of complicating things, I think that cumulative deviation is either the wrong way to look at it or there should be another dimension we watch too. The amount of movement between buoys would help I think.

    Right now, the boat path can vary by 20cm from the centerline at each buoy. What if the total 'correction' between consecutive buoys could only be 20cm. For instance, if the boat was 15cm to the right at #1, it could only be a max of 5cm to the left at #2. In other words, the movement between buoys may matter more than being able to drive straight for buoys 1-3 then move 15+cm on either side of the centerline from 4-6 to "help" the skier get out the gate. Just a thought about a different way to look at it.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • ralral Posts: 1,939 Mega Baller
    edited November 2020
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @klindy, the intent of the rule is straigth path. As is the speed intent (constant speed).

    When ZO came with its "gentle" first version, that looked at achieving the intent, everyone hated it. So it changed, but on an automated, consistent and repeatable way (which from a conceptual point I did not agree then, but I do agree on a practical way when behind the boat...). Not in a way where a human being can arbitrarily decide where to speed up/slow down. I guess the same thing needs to apply when auto-steering is deployed.

    In the meantime, I do have an issue with drivers having in mind favoring the skier (or harming the skier), on a non-consistent and repeatable way. I believe drivers should have a straigth path in mind.
    Rodrigo Andai
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,685 Administrator
    The driver should strive to be dead straight
    @ral

    When ZO came with its "gentle" first version

    What???

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