JOHN HORTON As long as I can remember skiing as a kid, LaPoint has been a water ski hero of mine. To ride a ski that he set a world record on is a huge honor. In terms of water ski history, this Maha is no less significant than a bat that belonged to Babe Ruth or a set of wooden clubs owned by Jack Nicklaus. Few skiers have shaped water skiing as much as LaPoint has. For him to put down the scores he did on that ski, as tough as it is to ride, it’s insane.
After my first pass on the Maha, I was in shock. The comparison to modern skis is so radical. It’s like a 1970 Pinto compared to a modern-day Ferrari. It was by no means the smooth, fl owing ride that today’s skis allow. The Maha requires a lot of skier movement and manipulation. You really have to muscle it around in the turn and get all over the thing to make it carve. It’s a wresting match. It’s fight and recovery, over and over, until you make it out of the gates. Sporting a fin that’s big enough to steer the Queen Mary, it’s no wonder the Maha is difficult to tame.
Despite my struggles, the ski was a lot of fun to ride. It started to feel more comfortable when I slowed the boat down a few miles per hour and skied some passes at 22 off, 32 mph. Some skiers may think this wooden classic belongs in the Hall of Fame; I think it belongs out on the lake.
Ride The Wood
For today’s pro shortliners, it’s hard to imagine riding the same ski for one competitive season, let alone six. Those heavy-hitting 39s and 41s can tire out a ski quickly. For LaPoint, the very same Maherajah 3.5 that he broke the world record on in ’66 was his same ride in ’72. “We didn’t try a lot of skis like they do today,” says LaPoint. “Maybe one or two a season. But there was something about that one that I kept going back to.”
It was an era when Maherajah dominated the tournament scene. “There were wood O’Briens, wood Maherajahs, and then some skis out of Europe,” says LaPoint. “That was pretty much what you had to choose from.”
So what does the legend have to say about the design of his Maha 3.5? “It has a tunnel concave bottom with large bevels that are sharp,” says LaPoint. “It’s really wide behind the back foot, which nobody is doing that anymore, and the front of the ski is real narrow.”
How does it ski? LaPoint says: “It didn’t want to move away from you on the offside turn. It just wanted to track. Try and get on the front of it, and it literally stops. For the skis of its day, it was fast, but let’s just say it was a challenge compared to today’s skis.”