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The chair of the water-skiing association Waterskiclub Maurik, Ed Hes, talks about wakeboard and water-ski boats:
‘Controlled reversing and maneuvering without Jet Thruster is nearly impossible’ If anyone knows about the world of water-skiing and wakeboarding, it is Ed Hes. He started water-skiing at age ten, and 47 years later he still loves it just as much. He was recently elected as the chair of the water-skiing association Waterskivereniging Maurik aan de Nederrijn for a second term. This is his fourth year in this position.

The active association has been given the honor of organizing the 2015 Wakeboard Boat European Championships. In fact, they beat out Paris for this honor! In that case, it’s fair to say you know what you’re talking about.The three most important components that Waterskivereniging Maurik practices are the classic forms of water-skiing (slalom, trick, and jump), wakeboarding, and barefoot water-skiing. Water-ski boats, wakeboard boats, and some barefoot skiing boats have an inboard motor with plenty of horsepower and a platform at the aft so that it is easy to board and disembark. For safety purposes, the propeller has been moved back a half meter. These boats are characterized by their small rudder blade. The three biggest names for this kind of boat are Mastercraft, Malibu, and Nautique. There are also special boats with outboard motors for barefoot skiing. “In terms of speed, all these boats perform excellently for what they’re designed to do, and they’re great for driving with,” says Ed Hes.

“But without speed or when idling or maneuvering, it’s a different story. Rotation, Controlled reversing and maneuvering is nearly impossible, particularly with the inboards - they almost can’t be steered. When reversing, you have to deal with propeller walk; the prop hits the water against the hull in one direction, causing the boat to rotate. This rotation is less of an issue at forward speeds because the rudder works much better going forward.

Propeller walk is the reason why boats like this this are always moored on one side. This is how we developed an interest in Holland Marine Parts’ Jet thruster. It makes it possible to maneuver precisely. That’s really important when mooring and when attaching the trailer, as well as when the boat is in open water and the wind blows it to the side, when idling, or at low speeds. The Jet Thruster makes it possible to position the boat where you want it or keep it where you want it when idling. In a manner of speaking, it removes a handicap that is inherent in this kind of boat. Another advantage is that you don’t have to use the propeller to do this, which increases safety - it keeps the line from getting caught in the propeller, and when the athlete climbs on board it’s safer for them if their legs accidentally slip under the boat. “Safer It’s clear that the entire situation depends on the interplay of the driver and the skier or wakeboarder. As Ed Hes says, “That’s true for both beginning skiers and advanced skiers. The Jet Thruster can play an important role in compensating for the rotation of the boat, whether the propeller rotates clockwise or counterclockwise. The Jet Thruster makes the boat as easy to steer as a toy, if the owner is willing to make the necessary investment. What I would like is for the Jet Thruster to be fitted by the manufacturer in the factory, rather than only being available as a retrofit kit. I understand that decision belongs to the manufacturer, but we believe that there is a definite market for it. It would also be interesting to affix a nozzle at the back, so that when you’re moving forward it’s possible to get some distance from the athlete in the water before the propeller starts working. That would also make the sport safer.”

The safety aspect has an even bigger role in boats with outboard motors and boats with Z-drives where the propeller is behind the boat rather than under it. Back to the 2015 Wakeboard Boat European Championships, they will be held from August 4 through August 8, 2015. The event will be held under the auspices of the Dutch Water-ski and Wakeboard Association (Nederlandse Waterski en Wakeboard Bond, NWWB), at the fantastic location of the Waterskivereniging Maurik water-skiing association. Two hundred participants from Europe and Africa are expected at this sports event, promising athleticism and spectacle at the highest level. The standard boat for this event will be the Mastercraft XStar. Ed Hes, his fellow board members, and the many volunteers responsible for the event are sure to make it a success. In the meantime, they are continuing to work on how they use the Jet Thruster to improve maneuvering and safety.