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Practice course without the end alignment gates - how big a problem ?

swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
I am installing a new submersible course next week through the ICE. The additional length caused by the end alignment gates extends the course into territory with owners who are adverse to change. (even though the course is 600 feet off shore and submersible to be as low-profile as possible) I skied in tournaments from age 14 to 42 when their weren't alignment gates. I am starting over in M9 and don't have first hand knowledge of their value to the skier.

The boat which is new to me, has Perfect Pass which will be upgraded with ZBox and Star Gazer . . my next winter project. Does this system require alignment gates ?

How big a deal is it to not have alignment gates on a practice course ? I am inclined to not have them until the course becomes familiar to the lakeshore community.


  • GaryJanzigGaryJanzig Posts: 94 Baller
    edited December 2020
    We don't have pre-gates on the course at Lake Latonka. Not a problem. We have plenty of runway at the ends so they are not an issue. Some skiers need them to time their pre-gate pull.
  • skiboynyskiboyny Posts: 260 Baller
    I think the pre-gates are really valuable for your timing. It's something that translates to other courses so you timing stays relatively the same. That said, use a course for quite a few years without. Learned to line up left and 3 (or something to that nature) for the pullout.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,076 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    “Pre-gates,” “55 meter balls,” “alignment balls” or “green buoys” were initially introduced as a driver aid to ensure that the driver was lined up for the course by that point. Now, drivers are required to be lined up well before the 55’s, thus giving the skier a long straight approach to the course. The 55’s have become a real skier aid as a standard fixed point for timing the initial pull out.

    So, if you aren’t having a tournament on you lake, where 55’s would be required, and you don’t mind not having a skier and driver aid, you don’t need 55’s. Neither Perfect Pass nor Zero Off rely on the 55’s. Sure Path does give you a position at the 55’s but ( @Jtim3032 , correct me if I’m wrong) the deviation at the 55’s doesn’t factor into total deviations, so it doesn’t effect Sure Path either.

    That’s a long way of saying that they are handy but in your case you don’t need them. On the other hand, you may have a hard time getting friends that are used to skiing with 55’s to come ski with you on your course. If you’ve never had them you don’t need them. If you are used to them, you can’t live without them.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,214 Administrator
    Anyone who is going to ski tournaments or is going to shorten the rope very much is going to very much want them there. It's a pretty big deal for gate timing.

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  • jimskijimski Posts: 588 Crazy Baller
    If your using a mainline setup I’d attach all the hard ware and just leave the buoys off for the Time being. You can easily add them later.
    If your using anchors through the ice just add a sub buoy a couple feet down and leave the buoy off for now.
    The 55’s sank last week on our course and I had a heck of a time with my timing.
    Like Horton said if your skiing tournaments or other people are used to them I’d put them on the more familiar your practice course is to the real thing, the easier it will be to use other site courses.
  • thagerthager Posts: 5,140 Mega Baller
    I use a single anchored 55M buoy on each end of my AccuSink course. Although my 55m's stay attached all summer a single buoy is pretty easy to put in and take out after you ski to make your neighbors happy. As far as which side to put in, I installed the left 55 buoy when I did one hand gates and now use the right side for traditional pullout and glide gates.
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • PatMPatM Posts: 789 Crazy Baller
    I have a course that I use often without the 55s. You line up the right gate with the 5 ball for timing. I do have 55s that I take in and out (there is a sub buoy that I clip to) with each use when I can. As @Horton said it is a lot better with the 55s for timing. My reason for not leaving them in is the same as yours - the neighbors do not want us to extend the course any longer than it originally was installed before there were 55s.
    The times I ski without the 55s are when I don't have time to put them in (5 minutes) or when it is too cold to do so.
    Hopefully you can do as we did and install them and take them out when not using.
  • Jtim3032Jtim3032 Posts: 62 Baller
    @lpskier the only places in the Rules that mention the pre-gates are in rule 8 "The boat shall follow a straight path as close as possible to the centreline of the course. This path shall be maintained from the entrance pre-gates and continue for as long as the skier is in the course". They are also specified in the "Official Slalom Course" Pre-gates are mandatory for IWWF sanctioned events but not sure for C or other classes.

    The new Rule 8.15 specifies deviation tolerances for the first time at the gates and I wouldn't be surprised if in time, this is extended to the pre-gates. Sure-Path starts displaying the boat's position from 80metres before the pre-gates (and recording from 10 metres before them) because many elite skiers wanted the driver to know where they are that early on as it is so critical when you get down to silly shortenings.
  • swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
    edited December 2020
    THANKS FOR YOUR RESPONSES . . . ok ok ! >> I will setup the 55 buoys along with the rest of the course. This is a lake of 95% weekend homes, so there will be a lot time when the 55s can be installed and nobody would care.

    From memory I recall building in a safety factor to avoid missing the gates back when the 55's didn't exist. I was inconsistent at getting-wide-early at ball 1 at 38off because my speed to the wake was sometimes too slow because I was too cautious approaching the gates. Maybe the pre-gates will help with that.
  • GaryJanzigGaryJanzig Posts: 94 Baller
    edited December 2020
    I don't need the pre-gates at home, but definitely needed at a tournament. I use the 2,4,6 buoy line and the entrance gates to set up my start since I don't have the green buoys to practice with.
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    IMO 55's are certainly not needed. Plenty of other markers to easily align your start. Skiing without them you'll quickly find your routine and be just fine. Skiing a course with them then shouldn't mess you up at all as you're not using them anyway. So if you can ski without them you can ski anywhere.
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 90 Baller
    Unless it has changed, the tolerances for the location of the "55-meter" pre-gates is quite large - several feet, IIRC. So while they are handy, and you'll miss them if they're gone, some of the old methods of lining up the left-hand entrance gate ball with the five ball (or whatever) may be sufficient for a practice. Or course, you might have to visit an old folks home to find anyone who still remembers and can teach you those old "go points".
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 991 Crazy Baller
    you can just put one on the left side.
  • marknmarkn Posts: 405 Crazy Baller
    Have to respectfully disagree with @Horton regarding the 55's. Have never used them on my course and ignore them at tournaments or other practice sites. Guess I am one of the old folks @RGilmore ! Ha.
  • DWDW Posts: 2,297 Mega Baller
    An option might be to use a white sub buoy, assuming your water clarity allows you to see a few feet down. Not ideal but worth trying.
  • swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
    edited January 2
    @Horton I just added the 55M buoys to my drawings for the course I am laying out on the ICE on Sunday. Maybe there is no single precise answer to this question . . how does the skier use the 55M buoys to assist with his setup ? Looking at it on paper I don't see the answer to this question. Thanks
  • GloersenGloersen Posts: 1,074 Mega Baller
    edited January 2
    @swbca Most initiate edge-out based on some visual reference with boat bow and green pre-gate 55m buoys (i e., bow eclipses R55, 1/2, full,... boat length ahead of 55s, etc.).
    In their absence some reference 5 ball buoy and RHGB buoy alignment as edge-out initiation. Hard to see 5 ball well sometimes imo.
  • Alberto SoaresAlberto Soares Posts: 333 Solid Baller
    A few years ago I had the opportunity of skiing with Mapple and asked him what were his pre-gates references, he told me that the had skied so many years without them that he even did´nt look at them.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,076 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Alberto Soares Yes, but Andy had super powers.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
    I am installing sub-buoys at both ends for the pre-gates, but may only install the surface buoys on one end. I'll be able to figure out if the pre-gate is useful to me or not.
  • JackQJackQ Posts: 397 Open or Level 9 Skier
    I skied on a course off the Potomac river in Maryland until a few years ago, one end of the course opened in to a well traveled channel, and a 55 was not acceptable. I ended up with a 55 on one end and not the other, was good enough for practice and preparing for tournaments.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 1,068 Mega Baller
    5 Ball!?!?! 55 meters before the gates? HA!!!! I'm lucky if I can see 2,4 line (not even 6 ball.)

    I've only been course skiing a couple years, but I can't imagine it without 55s. I'm sure if I did it regularly I'd manage, but I never see a course
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    Lots of portables without, as the 55’s are an additional pain
  • ETskierETskier Posts: 15 Baller
    Back in the 90s Steve Schnitzer showed some of us a system of using the the course bouys for your pull out, set up, and gate turn. That's where I learned to use the gates and 5 ball to pull out. You could also use the gates and 3 ball to start to know you were wide and to glide. Then you used the gates and 1 ball to turn for the gate. You never looked at where the boat was. It was all about where the skier was in relationship to the course. The advantage was every course is the same and the angles are the same, even as you shorten the line. Of course, as many have said here, some cannot even see the 5 ball any more. So now you can use the 55s and 1 ball to pull out. It can help with consistency. However, their are many great skiers who do it all by feel. So, yes you can do without the 55s if you have to.
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