Activities Sports & Athletics Water Skiing Speed and Safety Tips Share PINTEREST Email Print Paul Bradbury/Getty Images Sports & Athletics Extreme Sports Basics Obstacle Races Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Julie Bostian Julie Bostian is a water sports writer focusing on water skiing, boating, wakeboarding, and parasailing. our editorial process Julie Bostian Updated November 04, 2019 Different boat speeds are suited for different types of water skiing activities. Before heading out onto the water, you should know how to determine and set the right boat speed for your sport, whether it's water skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, barefooting, or jump and trick skiing. You should also make sure to follow appropriate safety guidelines. Choosing the Right Towboat Water skiing is not as simple as having the right skis and a towboat moving at the right speed. There are various other factors that will affect your skiing experience. One of the most important is choosing the right towboat. You always want to make sure that the boat you are using to tow a skier is capable of maintaining the proper speeds required and is equipped with a ski rope and handle. The rope should be about 75 feet long to give the skier sufficient room to maneuver. Many recreational boats such as bowriders, deckboats, cuddy cabins, and jetboats used for cruising and fishing can also serve as water skiing platforms. Some ski boats may have v-drives (motors in the rear of the boat) specially designed to create bigger wakes. For competition skiing, specially designed towboats are required, as most towboats have small hulls and flat bottoms to minimize their wakes. Tournament ski boats will reach much faster speeds and have direct drive motor shafts that center their weight for an optimal wake shape. Safety Tips Water skiing can be a very dangerous sport. Here are a few things to keep in mind: The skier must know how to swim.A specially designed life jacket or ski vest is a requirement for the skier—it allows for movement and serves as a flotation device in the event that the skier is injured.Calmer waters are ideal for recreational water skiing, and there must be enough space for the water skier to safely assume the upright skiing position.You should have sufficient skiing space of at least 200 feet wide, and the water should be at least five to six feet deep. Your towboat should be at least 100 feet from the docks, swimming areas, and the shore.Skiers and their boat drivers must allow themselves enough room to avoid any hazards.A driver and an observer must be in the towboat at all times when a water skier is being towed. The driver maintains a steady course and looks out for any obstacles, while the observer watches the skier to monitor their condition.Before going out onto the water, the skier and observer should discuss and agree on hand-signals to indicate when to stop, speed up, turn, etc. Ideal Boat Speeds by Water Activity Suggested speeds for various recreational skiing activities are provided in the chart below: Activity Boat Speed Combo Skiing 25 mph Slalom Skiing 19-36 mph Shaped Skiing 20-30 mph Wakeboarding 16-19 mph Kneeboarding 16-19 mph Barefooting 30-45 mph Jump Skiing 24-35 mph Ski Racing 60-130 mph Trick Skiing 11-21 mph Tubing 8-25 mph Keep in mind that these are suggested speeds for an adult of average height and are not meant for children. A child on two skis will require a speed of 13 to 16 mph, whereas an adult on one ski might require as high a speed as 36 mph. Ideal speeds will vary depending on the skier's weight, experience level, comfort level, and the type of skis they are using. Tubing Tips - Drive That Tube or Towable to Work Behind the Boat Get to Know the Basic Terminology of Waterskiing 5 Basic Boat Types to Take out on the Water Tips for Buying a Boat Suitable for Boat-Towed Water Sports How Can You Teach Kids How to Waterski? What You Need to Know About Your Local Waterskiing Rules Choosing an Inboard or Outboard Engine Coast Guard Safety Requirements for Boats 16–26 Feet National Parks Are Grand Destinations Are You Familiar With the Proper Technique for Anchoring a Sailboat? An Easy Sailing Potter 19 Sailboat 10 Must-Have Safety Items for Kayaking and Canoeing Cool Amphibious Trucks: Make Your Own Safezone in the Apocalypse Type IV PFDs and Paddling: Is It a Good Fit? What Is the MacGregor 26M Sailboats? What Are the Differences in MacGregor 26 Models?