Six tips from men's slalom world-record driver Chris Eller, who pulled Jeff Rodgers's Men 3 national record of 3 at 41 off (36 mph) and Chris Parrish's world slalom record of 1 1/2 at 43 off.
Size Up Your Skier
Pay attention to the your skier's size. If you have a lightweight, there is no need to go full bore around the turn. If you have heavyweight, get close – but not all the way – to the skier's course speed in the turn so he or she isn't sinking.
Relax and Go Slow
When pulling at the skier's maximum speed, try to make everything else about the set relaxed and slow. Give the boat plenty of time to settle in once you engage the cruise control, but if you're on a long lake with a good setup, don't go 36 mph for the entire run in for the course.
Smooth It Out
There's no reason to be overly aggressive with the throttle or to make quick, jerky movements with the boat. The last thing your skier should think about is what you're doing in the driver's seat. Steve Schnitz once told me that he liked it when I drove because “the boat was quiet.” When I think about this, I feel like my job is to drive without the skier being able to see or feel my movements or the boat's movements.
Know When to Let Go
You have to get into a rhythm with your skier right away. Just do whatever is necessary to keep the boat in the middle of the course. Thinking about it this way lets you drive in harmony with the skier and “release” him in the pre-turn and stay with him at the finish of his turn to keep the line tight. The trick is reacting at the right time. There is no set point for this and it simply comes with logging time in the boat and getting a feel for all levels of skier. I have heard other drivers refer to this release as “shaking the skier off,” or freeing him up for his turn.
Don't be afraid to ask the skier how it feels. You should not get responses like “the boat is running away from me” or “at the end of the turn, it's like there isn't anything there.” This means you need to adjust the timing of where you're at as the skier finishes the turn.
Learn something new each and every time you are in the boat, and use skier feedback as a learning tool. Don't get offended if someone tells you the pull did not feel good. Find out why and show how good it can be next time you get the chance to give a pull.