Reflex Vortex release

dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
Does anyone out there have any experience with the vortex trick release? Last year I got a Masterline Robbins release. I had a couple hang-ups with it, one of them resulting in a sprained middle and ring finger on a failed WL5F. ( I still can't get my wedding ring on. I've been wearing it on my right hand which gets some strange looks.) My ski partners refuse to use the Robbins release anymore. I'm a bit reluctant to go back to the split-pin release as none of my ski partners are trickers and don't really understand what I'm doing. They are also somewhat easily distracted with talking in the boat. There's also the issue of age and reaction time (their's, not mine! :-) ). At $395 it sounds expensive, but if it works it's well worth it.
Is it time to ski, yet?


  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,065 Mega Baller
    What happened with the Robbins that got you hung up?

    Mark Shaffer

  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,021 Mega Baller
    Rope release
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @chef23 I really don't know what caused the hang-up. It seems that it should work as intended to me. The last time it happened I got it the boat and my pinner had his hands up in the air saying "I let it go, look!" ... the rope was still in the release. I pulled the rope and it came right out.

    @ToddL I tried a rope release - my "release operators" rejected it. I need to make them happy or nobody is going to want to release for me.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 3,982 Mega Baller
    Rope Release! not sure why your release operators wont use it. It is your body and not their's. The rope release is ultra easy to use. at this years moomba I know of no mechanical releases that was utilized... every one uses the rope release now a day's.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @Jody_Seal I hear what your saying. I tried the rope release before getting the Robbins release. My thought was that any mechanical advantage increases the risk.

    It's not that I don't trust a rope release... they don't trust it and they're not comfortable with it. These are skiers who's passion is slalom. Their idea of tricks is to get up, ride, and maybe do a side slide once or twice a year. They have no idea what I'm doing out there or a desire to do it themselves. I need to have them be comfortable or they'll start to disappear when it's time for me to trick.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,021 Mega Baller
    Just curious, what method were they taught on using the rope release? Some elements that I am ware of which affect the "pin" persons situation are: How the rope is looped, how it is knotted, how long it is, etc.

    When I build my rope releases I follow this process:
    1) I create a loop at one end that is too small to fit over the pylon. I want the long rope of the release to be fished through the small loop at the other end and then the slip knot positioned around the pylon.
    2) when I fid the small loop, I fid it like a braid where each end is fid through the other, (brummel splice?), finishing it with the last little bit fed down the interior of the long run. I also try to make is so that the trick rope will never be able to rest on the fid section or behind any type of knot.
    3) I then cut the long run to a length were it can be wrapped twice around the body of the pylon during deep water starts with about 8" to hold onto. Most "pin" persons comment that the length is just right once they unwrap to only a single time around the pylon after deep water start is over.
    4) when I cut the long run, I cut it off at an angle and leave it raw, able to unravel over time. I don't want anything on the raw end which could ever, even momentarily catch the trick rope and prevent a smooth, quick release. I don't really like the releases where the ends are fed back into itself for the same reason. They are a little thicker and could delay the trick rope release ever so slightly.

    As far as pinning with a rope release, they should wrap it twice during deep water starts then unwrap to only once around the pylon during actual toe tricking. One time around should be sufficient amount of friction to hold the skier while under normal loads.

    I'll try to upload a picture later...

    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @ToddL I had them release as you described. The only difference in the rope would be the end loop which wasn't smaller than the pylon. I used an old 35-off section with one loop cut off. Although your #1 should make it safer with much less chance of the loop popping off the pylon.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @mlusa Russell - I showed my release to Dave Robbins at the regionals this past weekend. He thought maybe a little more weld was needed to fill the area here:

    When I got home I showed it to my machinist friend to see if he would add the weld for me. He thought it might also be a good idea to add a stainless washer between the stainless and aluminum:

    I though probably a good idea to show it to you first. I don't know anyone who has this version to compare how that weld should look. Everyone around here has one of either Dave's prototypes or the versions you produced with the two separate rods welded to the hub.

    What do you think?
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 4,012 Infinite Pandas
    First, the Robbins release is the safest release available! But nothing is perfect.

    There are a couple things you can do to enhance the safety. The most important is to use a rope end that is a bigger diameter rope than the super thin spectra lines. A short section of slalom rope is what I use (a side advantage is that the end tends to wear out so having a replaceable end section makes your expensive spectra rope last longer). The thin ropes go way into that joint illustrated in the photo and might be a bit slower to release. Also there is slightly less mechanical advantage so the operator gets a bit less feedback with a thin rope.

    My Robbins release had a sharper joint than pictured above. I wasn't that comfortable with that so I filled the joint with JB Weld. Easy fix with just a bit of sanding to make everything smooth so the rope slips off and doesn't get chewed up.

    When I'm releasing for someone on a critical trick, I let the rope start to pull the release a bit. It seems a bit over center if I hold the release at the stops so just letting it off the stops gives me a really good feel for the load on the line. Plus the release is a lot faster. Stan replaced the stops on his with a bigger diameter stop to get this feel all the time. His is a bit harder to hold for flips and starts but releases very fast.

    I love the big foam grip on the rope trigger. When adjusted properly, it is very comfortable and I can coach all day without destroying my hands. But it is easy to hold on to a lot of force so for critical toes I hold on directly to the lever arm. Make sure the end of the rope trigger is clear or that can cause a hang up.

    Rope releases suck for me. I pull too hard so either too many wraps are needed or the operator is accustomed to holding on too tight. Additionally, the release is not positive and instantaneous as the rope drags through the loop. It's still pretty good for just a couple bucks and fine for short sessions. The rope release is best for kids if you don't have to wrap around the pylon. Kids aren't heavy enough to trigger the Robbins and the straight no wrap release is fast enough. Also you can cheat to help a skier learn by feeding out a bunch of rope at a critical time (won't work in a tournament - you'll get disqualified).

    I do use a split pin a lot. For driving and pinning it is pretty good when the release is foot triggered. But split pins require a really good operator paying close attention. Unusual fast falls are a problem. Better than nothing but I'll always choose the Robbins if there's a semi competent operator.

    As the skier, there are a couple things you can do. I tell everybody to release if I yell. I yell loud if I'm in trouble and even the fast falls give enough time to get out a squawk. More importantly, stretch and keep your strength up. If the release is a bit late and you are stiff, you can too quickly reach the limits of a hamstring or other ligaments. A bit more muscle power can buy you enough time for that release operator's reaction. Or successfully pull you through that trick.


    ps I've never had serious corrosion at the other photo's spot. Occasional WD40 keeps my brackish water from damaging the release.
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @eleeski I use a 1/4" Kevlar core rope. I bought a spool years ago that will probably last me my lifetime. I have no desire to buy and expensive spectra rope :smile:

    Good tip on the JB Weld - I even have some in my box-o-ski-stuff. For the other area, it wasn't really corrosion that was the concern, it was the wear of stainless against aluminum. I just took it apart to have a look. As you can see, the stainless "hub" isn't quite smooth. The fit of the axle allows the hub to wobble a bit, so you can see how the edge is digging in:

    I am going to add a larger stop - Dave had mentioned that as well. I can definitely see how that would help reduce the delay.

    After my hamstring incident, I don't think I'll be using the split pin anymore. As quick as that fall was, I can't believe anyone would have pulled in time.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • bbirlewbbirlew Posts: 180 Baller
    I'm only a 3000 point tricker and my toe pass is a simple TO, tb, TF, TWB, TWF, TS, R, LB LF WLB WLF.

    But all the people I ski with still use the old ARC releases. What is the issue with them? Can they get hung up if too much tension is on it on a late pin?
    I've never had an issue, but it seems like most skiers now days avoid them...
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 4,012 Infinite Pandas
    @bbirlew The ARE release is a good release. It is the equivalent to the split pin except much easier to load. There may be issues with releasing way out wide (but most do toes pretty narrow). The hooks can get tight if not maintained. Under heavy load the force the operator must apply to trigger the release gets higher but I've never been unable to trigger a release under any load.

    In reality, most of the technical failures are probably excuses offered by operators rationalizing away their error. I used that style for years and had good results. But I've always had very good release operators.

    I did switch to the Masterline split pin release. The main reason for my switch was the ease of putting the release on and off. Switching between the split pin to the Robbins release between hand and toe passes is easy. If the ARE had a good quick mount system, I'd be very comfortable with that.

    With all that said, The Robbins release is by far my preference to use both as the operator and as the skier.

    @dchristman I did end up consuming my Kevlar spool over the years. Informal stretch testing of Kevlar vs Spectra does give an advantage to Spectra. But slalom ropes are rubber bands compared to either. Still, I choose C3 as my ZO setting and use a Spectra rope (thanks @rab and Echo skis) because I don't want to lose any energy. I do use a sacrificial short section of slalom rope for the float and very end.

    Do be aware that if the operator holds onto even a modified Robbins, you can still get hurt and fast falls still require fast operator response.

    Drive safely on the way to and from the lake - manage all the risks.

  • bbirlewbbirlew Posts: 180 Baller
    Right... ARE... Guardian I think they are called.
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,928 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Sometimes it's not the release that's the issue. Occasionally the rope - especially with knots or floats - momentarily hang up on the back seat or something in the back of the boat.

    Certainly not saying this was the case with the original post but be sure you don't have big floats or long "extra" rope on the boat end of your rope.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 766 Water Ski Industry Professional
    Everybody I know uses a rope release... Mechanical releases are a pain to install, and the operator can be not paying attention. A rope release requires the operator to pay attention to keep from losing the skier. Easy to use.
    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
    2022 World Games Competition Manager
  • epyscsepyscs Posts: 76 Baller
    I have a Vortex release here. Quite simply it is a great release - massively over engineered but that certainly isn't a problem for me! In fact it feels quality. It lives in a boat on a saltwater lake and in the last 4-5 years there have been no issues (apart from a Nautique that had a narrower pole for some reason). My preference as an 8k tricker is the Vortex over Robbins.

    I admit that I usually ski with a rope release as its the 'norm' for my pin men who are all good trickers. But all have and do use the Vortex at times. I personally make any new pin person use the Vortex with me as I know they cant make a mistake with the wraps etc like on a rope release. I only do hands with new guys though!
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,065 Mega Baller
    @mmosley899 it sounds like you have never seen a Robbins release. They go one in seconds and it is basically a mechanical version of a rope release. You have to hold on to keep the skier on the line. If your attention wavers it will release the skier and if the skier goes down it would rip the rope out of your hand. I believe the Robbins gives a smoother more consistent release than a rope release.

    The only benefit I see to the rope release is that if you want to allow some give as the skier is learning some toes you can do that with the rope release and you can't do it with the Robbins.

    I have used rope releases and feel better having my son on the Robbins than a rope release.

    Mark Shaffer

  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 3,982 Mega Baller
    edited August 2015
    It is funny I hang out with some of the best trick skiers in the world and none of them utilize a mechanical of any kind! Was in the boat Tue afternoon with Cory P, drove for numerous very high end trick skiers and only a rope release was utilized. The only time this year I have seen a mechanical was at regionals.

    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    @epyscs Thanks for answering my original question. As a dealer, have you sold any? Where are you located?

    @Jody_Seal If I ever get to go ski with Cory I will be happy to have him use a rope release for me. It's unlikely I will sway my regular non-tricking ski crew to use one.

    As I look more at my release after taking it apart, I suspect that what may have caused the hangups was the little blob (in the circle below) catching on the edge of the channel where the rope goes. That has to be what caused the grooves worn into the release body.

    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • texas_slalom_tricktexas_slalom_trick Posts: 69 Baller
    Make your own with a slalom long line. Just cut it(long enough to where if you put it on you pilon, it's a good ways down), and fray it. Put it on the pilot how you would normally do it, put the release in the trick rope loop, and wrap it around the pilon, and just let go when you think the person is about to fall/totally pull their hamstring. That's a diy release that a lot of people do. @dchristman.
  • epyscsepyscs Posts: 76 Baller
    @dchristmas - I am in NZ and 2. Quite simply, they are expensive when you compare it to an offcut of rope! If you can afford the $ and want the best... Vortex it should be.

    @Jody_Seal - if I ran ski schools and had a choice between an expensive release or spare bits of rope I would be making the same choice as Cory etc too.
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,407 Mega Baller
    Follow-up on an older thread. I'm a rope release convert. I ended up going to Cory's in March. I was in sad shape after wearing myself out with a couple sets of slalom at Bennett's a couple days before, but I did get to ride while Cory released for Adam and Martin Kolman (both AWESOME trickers).

    I finally started tricking here at home now that the water's gotten up to the 70's. Tentatively doing toes using a rope release with operators who I would never have trusted with a mechanical release. I still may use the Robbins release in tournaments depending on the experience of who I find to release. That's a wildcard due to skier order and who's available.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
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