Each month when I look through the photos in the WSR or while I’m spectating at races I see skiers who don’t seem to be in their most comfortable skiing position. This can have a lot to do with your harness set up, particularly the position of your front bar.
Your front bar position has a great effect on how you ski, there is no right or wrong position, it is very much determined by the individual. But perhaps you purchased your ski harness with the front bar already fitted and so this is where it has stayed regardless of how it effects your stance.
Many skiers may benefit by experimenting with front bar positions. An option that a lot of the top skiers now use is two front bars and this is something that I have exercised throughout my skiing career.
In 90% of skiing conditions (smooth, fast water) I would use my front bar (the bar closest to the boat). This allows me to keep my weight over the front of the ski and assists with holding the ski out in front
In the slower, rougher water I tend to use my back bar, which gives a much more upright skiing stance. This takes the load off your back and shifts your body weight to be more central over the ski. The last thing you need in big water is to drop the nose of your ski into a wave and end up over the front.
If you feel that your skiing stance is not quite perfect, this may be corrected by altering your front bar position based on the information above. You might want to also consider the addition of a second front bar to allow you to alter your stance to suit the conditions.
The best thing to do, especially now that it is the off season, is experiment during training. If you feel that you are too upright in the faster river races, move your front bar forward an inch and see whether this makes a difference for you.
Similarly if you feel you are too far over the front of your ski while trying to tackle rough water, move your front bar back an inch and gauge whether you feel more or less comfortable.
By using two front bars, as I have always done, you can alter your stance during a race for testing purposes as it is only during a race that you are truly in a racing position.
The process to find the prime position for your front bar might take you some time, but it’s certainly worth the effort. By skiing in your optimum stance, you reduce fatigue and your risk of a fall.
Once you find the position that you are most comfortable in, be sure to record the measurements somewhere safe. It would be a shame to have to start all over again if your now ‘custom’ harness went missing or was run over by a boat after a mishap.
Remember that your harness forms part of the very important link between yourself and the boat. Be sure to keep it off the floor of the boat after a race, especially in inboards where there may be fuel and/or oil in the boat. Rinse your harness in fresh water after every race and dry it thoroughly before storing it, but never leave it in the sun.