This happens at my barefoot school every week. A student takes a couple sets on Monday, sits in the boat for the ride back to the launch and asks, How fast were you pulling me?
About 25, I say.
There's usually a few seconds of stunned silence.
No … really?
Really. Barefooters are pretty raw – little equipment, little fear and sometimes little wisdom. We're trained to believe that to walk on water the boat has to be smoking in the high 30s or low 40s. That's why the falls are so crushing, and why footing is associated with daredevils and danger. The fact is, most of the people I teach can bring the boat speed down at least 10 mph. Their reply is, But I'll fall.
You'll only fall if your posture is out of whack. Say your normal footing speed on the short rope is 35. Bring it down to 25. If you start to fall or sink, then you need to make some corrections that will help you at higher speeds and on a long line.
Have someone in the boat watch your lower-body technique:
Are your feet close together?
Are your knees bent over your feet?
Is the water level at the balls of your feet?
You should be able to barefoot in the low- to mid-20s before being covered with a ton of spray. On long line you should be able to go from 32 mph down to 29.
Why the Puttering?
There are three key reasons to barefoot at slower speeds:
1. The falls are less severe.
2. It's easier to work on the same form you'll be using at 38 mph.
3. You will be forced to perfect your posture and glide, or you'll sink.