With the launch of Ski Racing Australia’s “Get Out on the Water” recruitment campaign we are welcoming many new members to the sport. At Zig’s Marine we have had quite a few calls from these newbies seeking advice on what gear they need and what is safe to buy used rather than new.
This month, Zig’s Tips is dedicated to ski racing’s new skiers but also anyone else who is in the market for race gear. We’ll cover what you should look for when buying second hand and what gear really needs to be bought new. Your safety is paramount and all the advice contained in this article focuses on that.
Skiers Helmet – Buy New
There is no problem using an older or second hand helmet for training runs, but in race conditions I recommend that you invest in a new skier’s helmet.
Your helmet is a vital piece of safety equipment and should be respected. Buying a new helmet from a professional will ensure that you are properly fitted.
You don’t know the history of a used helmet, and the rule states that skiers helmets must be fluorescent orange to increase the visibility of your helmet when you are in the water. Unfortunately this required colour fades easily, we do offer a re-painting service, however you won’t know how much life is left in the paint on a used helmet.
You have two options for skiers helmets, the first is a plastic surfing helmet (Gath $179), the second is a carbon fibre sky diving helmet (Bonehead $430). The difference between the two in terms of comfort and strength is vast, as is the price. If you are entering the sport in a speed restricted class and are looking to only run a few races a year then the first option would suit you. If you have made the commitment to race long term and do lots of it then you can justify the second option. The carbon fibre option also has the benefit of using an adjustable liner, allowing the helmet to grow with the junior skier’s head.
Wetsuit – Buy New
I recommend buying your wetsuit new. Even a wetsuit that appears to be in good condition but is more than a few seasons old may have had its buoyancy compromised, with age the material inside the wetsuit starts to absorb water, rather than re-pell it which means the older suit will not float as well as a new suit. A new and more buoyant suit will also help you with your starts as it floats you and holds you up higher in the water, and the start is where a lot of new ski racer’s need help. This piece of gear along with your helmet is designed to keep you safe. It will not only float you in case of a fall but protect your body against injury on impact with the water and should most definitely be respected. Most ski racing wetsuits are custom made and you want this to ensure the suit fits your body as snuggly as possible reducing the chance of any water entering your suit in case of a fall.
For wetsuits try Wizard, Wing, Shyside or Rubber Jungle.
Ski – Buy Used
Skis are expensive and as a ski racing newbie you won’t know exactly what you like until you have raced for at least a season.
When looking at used skis, you can expect to see some general wear and tear. Any shallow scrapes or gouges are ok. If you see any fractures in the bottom laminate, structural timber damage, or a bent fin you should seek the opinion of an expert. We keep a range of good used skis in stock at Zig’s Marine and before we on-sell any of these we give them a service, replace the ski tips if needed and add a ZMR fin to ensure they are safe to race on.
Most skiers in expert classes use specialised race bindings but these too are expensive. If you are racing in a speed restricted class or in any junior class where speeds have not yet met 70mph, you can use a set of double high wrap social bindings rather than race bindings. This will cut the cost of your bindings in half and offer a much more comfortable ride at slower speeds.
Rope – Buy New
In the grand scheme of things rope is relatively inexpensive and a roll of rope (SkiFast $115 – $150) has enough length for team of skiers to make up their race ropes and all their extensions. Used race rope is great for social skiing and so it will never go to waste.
Harness – New or Used
If you can find a used harness in good condition with no frays or signs of wear, it will be fine to use second hand. Harnesses are customised by the skier to suit their body shape, height and stance and so you may have to adjust the front handle position if you find yourself a good second hand harness.
Holeshot – Buy used if you can
‘Holeshot’ is a word you may have never heard before entering the world of ski racing. Put simply though it is a device specific to our sport which you load your ropes into prior to the race, it is attached to the back of the boat and allows your ropes to run out tangle free at the start. A Holeshot is a product of convenience and doesn’t offer you any protection or safety and so there is nothing wrong with a used one.
(ZMR Holeshot $180 each or two for $320 at Zig’s Marine)
Some other pieces of gear that we haven’t spoken in length about here include skiers gloves, goggles and ankle tape. There are also many optional extras you can add to your gear bag along your ski racing journey. Zig’s Marine stocks a full range of ski gear, both new and used. If you have any questions about what you need or if you need a second opinion on any used gear you are looking to buy, you can contact us for advice at anytime.
Next month we’ll focus on drivers and observers gear.
Welcome to ski racing. Have fun and stay safe.
02 4587 8224
Zig’s Marine talks to Jake Tegart about his recent, record breaking win at Catalina – The World’s Greatest Ski Race.
ZM: What an amazing achievement Jake, not only winning Catalina but breaking the record in a time of 45:31. You’ve raced Catalina five times now, what made this year so different?
JT: A definite advantage this year was being with the Warpath Crew, with three ski racers in a boat set up with the sole purpose to race Catalina, we wiped seven minutes off my intermediate record. Mike has a very professional approach to his racing which gave me confidence as a skier. Knowing that he has successfully towed World Champions Pete Procter and Wayne Mawer, I knew I was in good hands.
ZM: How did you pick up your run this year?
JT: I wasn’t even meant to be going to Catalina this year, with a trip booked to the Diamond Race in Belgium and only having a few weeks break between uni semesters it all seemed too hard. One morning a few days before leaving for Europe, I was at work and got a call from Mike Avila, he told me that Wayne Mawer had picked up an injury and asked if I would consider skiing with them.
ZM: How did you feel about skiing with a new crew?
JT: Like I mentioned, I hadn’t planned on going this year so I’d given it no real thought when I said yes, I only knew that if I ever wanted to have a good crack at winning Catalina I’d just been given the best opportunity you could ask for. So I guess you could say I felt pretty good about skiing with Mike and his crew.
ZM: You were racing against the most capped skier to ever win Catalina. How did you get on top of him, what were your strengths over his?
Mike and I had talked about going out there and doing our best, but we both knew that with the short stop over and no experience together, beating a guy like Todd Haig seemed impossible. There’s a reason he’s won it 12 times. We put a few really solid training runs down and started to think maybe we could at least put a bit of a show on and it might not be a walk over. I don’t know that I necessarily had any strengths over him out there. Our plan was to race as hard as we could for as long as we could once the flagged dropped. We got off to a great start and just tried to make him play catch-up for as long as possible, he was there the entire way never dropping more than a few ropes until the turn less than a minute from the line.
ZM: What ski did you run?
JT: I ran my Maha Longboard, I’ve been playing with a few styles of different Mahas recently but for the big occasion I went back to the old faithful.
ZM: What other equipment did you use?
JT: For Catalina I used my ZMR web harness with double front bar, SkiFast 5.3mm rope, Cookie helmet, Oakley goggles, Wedge Bindings and Wizard wetsuit, all my gear has been great to me so far and I don’t plan on changing anything soon.
ZM: How would your equipment set-up differ for a river race?
JT: I try to run the same gear throughout all styles of racing from the river to the ocean. Running all the same gear across all racing conditions allows you to get to know your gear more thoroughly. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery, there’s only so many things you can change on a skier and the most influential would be boot and bar positioning. The beauty of the double bar is you can change your position throughout the race to get more upright in the rough stuff or really get back and get the ski out in front in the smooth. As for boots it all comes down to style. A skier’s style is reflected in their setup. My boot positioning is setup around 905mm to the back of the front boot from the back of the ski, this allows me to keep enough control of the ski at all times, well most of the time, but still allows me to get back and let the ski do some of the work at high speeds as I tire up long straights.
ZM: What’s next?
JT: Next is another full season with Donny, Kris, Grant and Trenno with Team Mercforce.
ZM: Thanks for your time Jake, is there anything else you would like to mention?
JT: Yes, thanks for all the support from my sponsors – Zig’s Marine, Coldys, Wizard Wetsuits, Cookie Helmets, East Coast Commercials, Acclaim Aluminium and Cave-fit.
ZM: We look forward to following Jake throughout 2015/16 in what is sure to be a successful season for him and Team Mercforce.