Chet Raley has long been one of water skiing’s most sought-after coaches … and he’s a pretty good skier himself. Goode Skis recently spoke with Chet about two of the brightest young students he coaches at his Palm Beach Training Center, the ski he’s riding on and how he’s been able to do more than just hang with the younger Big Dawgs.
Two of your students, Yiannis Nathanail and Samantha Dumula, just won Junior world titles. How does that accomplishment stack up with some of the other things you’ve achieved in the sport?
I don’t really take credit for kids’ or students’ accomplishments because that is their hard work. I work hard with them but their success is theirs. It’s beautiful though and very, very rewarding to watch them try as hard as they try and have good things come to fruition.
Now that they’ve both experienced their first taste of success at the world level, what can we expect from them in coming years?
With both Yiannis and Samantha the sky is absolutely the limit. They are very bright, very smart kids that both have incredible parents that should get as much credit as anyone. They have the potential to do whatever they want, but school is going to be a major priority for both. But they can go as far as they want to go in skiing.
You’ve been skiing on the new NANO ONE since last summer and have put a lot of your students on the ski. What do you like about it?
First of all, it’s the best Goode ever created, no question about it. You can make almost any ski functional, but to make it more superior than anything else it has to be really good. And it’s a superior product. The addition of inserts is really cool and a lot of people have clamored for that for a long time, but that’s secondary to the way it performs. It has two good sides, which is not normal for skis of the last 10 years or so.
You’ve skied on many different Goodes in the past. How does this ski compare and contrast to those others?
Pro skiers are good about keeping a wet ski and in other sports that’s important too. The more of that edge you put into the snow, ice or water the better control you have. None of the other skis set an edge better than this ski and that is worth its weight in gold.
Like any sport, water skiing in continuously evolving. What new concepts or thoughts are you incorporating into your coaching?
It evolves almost yearly, and I’d say dramatically each year. The idea of skiing from buoy to buoy has really changed. That’s the net result, but there is a lot of interest in skiing from the apex near the buoy to the wake right now. Deliberately setting an edge that sustains angle that culminates in the center line behind the boat. It’s a much nicer way to ski than the old days of turning, stalling, grabbing the line and pulling like a mad man to gain back your losses.
The Big Dawg series seems to get tougher and tougher each year yet you are always at or near the top. How have you been able to stay so competitive even while new talent has entered the series?
Well, you better continue to change, evolve and learn if you want to keep up. As an old man (Editor’s note: Chet is 56) in a young man’s sport, you just continue to keep it up and not sit around and think that you have it all figured out. You have to evolve with better equipment and you have to work hard, just like the kids I coach do.