USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Barefoot - Front Flying Dock Start

Front Flying Dock Start


Note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of The Water Skier magazine, the official publication of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. If you are not a member of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and you are interested in receiving the quarterly magazine, join now.


Written by Rachel Normand

Photography by Scott Normand


A flying dock start is a fantastic way to get an extra 50 points at a tournament, stay drier longer during these cooler months, plus gives you a great WOW factor! Before learning a flying dock start, it is important to master a deep water start behind the boat. Once you have, you are ready to add the flyer.

Step 1. Put several coils of rope in one hand making sure the rope is feeding out toward the boat (the rope closest to your handle should come out last). With the other hand, hold one end of the handle. Place yourself two to three steps away from the edge of the dock. 

Driver Tip: Get the boat lined up with the skier directly behind you. Once half the rope is out, put the boat in gear and tell the skier.

Step 2. Watch the rope as it feeds out of your hand. As the last coil is coming out, drop the rope and put both hands on the handle. At this point, the most crucial step is to make sure the rope gets completely tight before you step. When the rope is tight, take steps to follow the taught rope. 

Driver Tip: To help keep the rope tight and pull the skier away from the dock, increase your throttle slightly to a fast idle when the rope is almost tight.

Step 3. As you take two to three steps, keep the line tight. Resist the pull by having your shoulders back, and not allowing yourself to get ahead of the rope, causing slack. When you get to the edge of the dock, jump up and forward toward the boat. When you jump, yell “OK” for the driver to accelerate. 

Driver Tip: When your skier says OK, steadily increase your speed like you would for a normal deep water start.

Step 4. Once you jump off the dock, focus on getting horizontal, bringing your feet to the rope, and your handle to your waist. You want to land in the same position you would begin for a deep water start. In this position your body should be horizontal, like floating flat on your back, but with the arches on your feet crossed on the rope and the handle pulled into your waist.

Step 5. Once you land in the water, arch your back, and push your hips up into the handle, which is at your waist. Most importantly, find the rope and keep the arches of your feet on it. Having your feet on the rope and body flat will help you come out of the water and get you going in the right direction. From here all the steps are the same as a front deep water start.

Step 6. Smile and enjoy your accomplishment! You earned 100 points for your flying dock start! If you need a refresher on all the steps in-between the dock and barefooting, please reference the Front Deep Water Start Behind the Boat and other archived articles.

Rachel Normand is a USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Water Ski Hall of Fame inductee, five-time world individual champion, and four-time world team gold medalist. She lives, trains and coaches on Lake Wylie in Tega Cay, S.C. The World Barefoot Center and Barefoot International sponsor Rachel. You can contact her at