Slalom Waterskiing Towrope Conversion - 5 @ 32 Off - What Does This Mean?

Slalom Towrope Conversion Info

Towrope length terminology can be quite confusing if you have never had a lesson in the waterskiing number system.

5 @ 32 off - What the First Number Represents

  • The first number represents the number of buoys around which a water-skier made a successful turn. There are six possible buoys, three on each side, in a slalom course a skier can go around in a zig-zag fashion.

    According to USA Water Ski "An athlete receives one point for each buoy that he successfully rounds. The athlete who skis around the most buoys and scores the most points, wins the event. Each athlete begins with a 23-meter (75-foot) slalom rope at the minimum boat speed for his age/gender division. Once an athlete has run enough passes to reach maximum boat speed for his division, the rope is shortened in pre-measured lengths until he misses a buoy or falls."

    5 @ 32 off - What the Second Number Represents
    • The second number represents the rope length. A standard full rope length is 75 feet long, commonly known as long-line. Shortening the rope length makes skiing around the buoys more difficult. When the rope is shortened it is referred to as "off."

      For the more experienced skiers, the rope does not start at full length. They may choose to start at a shorter length.

      The six buoys are 37.5 feet from the center of the course. At 38 feet off, the rope no longer reaches to these buoys and thus the skier has to use their body to get around them. At 43 off, the rope is 32 feet long, thus five and a half feet inside the buoy. The world record is 1 1/2 @ 43' off attained by Chris Parrish on August 28, 2005.

    The Loops
    • Tournament ropes have incremented loops to attach the rope to the boat at fixed settings. Each loop is a different color.

      The first loop is 15 feet from the rope's original full-length connection point to the boat. This is considered 15 off, which is a rope length of 60 feet (75 - 15 = 60). The following increments are 22, 28, 32, 35, 38, 39.5, and 41 off. In our example of 5 @ 32 off, the rope was shortened 32 feet. Use the below table as a guide for length and color. Table also available in meters.

      Boat Speed
      • In competition, after a skier completes a pass (all six buoys), the boat speed is raised 2 miles per hour each pass until the speed reaches 36 miles per hour (mph) for men and 34 mph for women. At this point the rope's length is shortened one increment per completed pass. The winner is the skier who can ski around the most buoys at the shortest rope length.

        Slalom Waterskiing Towrope Conversion Chart

        Loop ColorMetersFeetFeet Off