The Key to good barefoot driving lies mostly in the start. One of the biggest misconceptions in barefooting is that the driver has to nail the throttle to get a footer out of the hole on a deepwater start.
As fast as most of the new barefoot boats are, a trigger-happy driver can really give a footer a beating by pulling him up too fast. In addition to putting excess strain on the arms, a fast and furious start will slam the footer into the stern roller that the boat creates when it comes out of the hole.
For example, I like to have the driver roll onto the throttle with moderate power, similar to a slalom start, and keep a medium pace until the footer is over the stern roller, then add plenty of power to bring him up to speed.
Tournament drivers divide the start into three parts: the initial burst of power, the transition over the stern roller, then the increase to footing speed. Competitors will describe the type of start they want in terms of these three elements. I would call for a medium, medium, fast.
When pulling for a back deep start, keep in mind that there are two styles. Old school footers will ride through the stern roller on their crotch and stomach before putting their feet down. For these riders, you'll want to go easy on the gas through the roller and wait for their foot plant before you add more power – in other words, a slow, slow, fast.
Other footers will spread and plant their feet before the stern roller. This style of back deep start begins very slowly, almost like a wakeboard start, but the driver must be ready to power up as soon as the feet are planted. This would be more of a slow, fast, fast.
Footers will tell you what speed they want during the run, but there are hints you can use to help a less experienced footer get settled in. When a footer has the proper body position and is being pulled at the right speed, the spray should break behind the balls of the feet. Once you get the speed dialed in, don't change it.
When driving with a boom, get the boat positioned before the footer grabs the handle. If the footer is dragging alongside, you'll waste a lot of time bumping the boat in and out of gear trying to line up for the run.
Instead, come alongside the footer, then apply a slight touch of reverse to stop the boat and deliver the handle right to him or her. The touch of reverse can also pivot the boat so it is facing slightly away from the footer – a position that will make the start easier.
Some footers like to get a little bit of whip at the end of the run so they can perform a butt slide. If no whip is requested, simply steer left, drop the throttle and then turn back to the right. Give the footer as much water as possible by driving the full length of the lake, not stopping before you have to.
Set the boat so it is facing to the left of the intended path (when the boom is attached to the right side of the boat). If the run is in the direction of 12:00, set up facing 10:30.
Don't tighten the line until you are ready to go, and don't overcompensate with the steering wheel. A slight degree of left pressure is all that is needed to offset the leverage of the boom.