Water skiing team feeling fuel crunch

High fuel prices have even affected the dazzling acrobatics of the U.S. Water Ski Show Team.

High fuel prices have even affected the dazzling acrobatics of the U.S. Water Ski Show Team.

The team, which operates near Jumpin’ Jack’s, has decreased the number of boats it uses from four to three. President Kara Pangburn estimated that the team spends $500 on gasoline per show. This year, they are doing a total of 11 shows every Tuesday.

“It’s really hard. It means that we have to go out and find sponsors. We are relying on the contributions that the community makes during shows,” she said.

There are 65 people on the team, but about 30 active skiers. This year, the organization also increased the fee that every single member of the team must pay from $75 to $100. Everybody seemed to understand, given the circumstances.

“I think they just figured it was bound to happen. There’s really been few complaints. I think everybody is realizing that the team is incurring a huge cost,” she said. “A boat takes a lot more gas than a car does.”

The team tries to use just one boat for practices.

“Until boats can run on solar power, we’re pretty much stuck in this situation,” she said.

Pangburn said she believes there is still interest in the sport. However, gas prices may have limited extracurricular boating activities. “I think a lot fewer people go out,” she said.

Dave Hyde, owner of Hyde’s Boats in Rexford, said he has heard from people who live on Saratoga Lake and Sacandaga Lake that activity is down. However, he pointed out that the boating season just started.

Boat sales have been a little weak, but not that bad overall. Sales of four-stroke outboard motor boats and small electric pontoon boats have been good.

“I can’t say that fuel is really seriously affecting our operation,” he said.

“It really seems like it’s not going to be a bad year as long as the weather holds up,” he added.

Ken Reynolds, sales manager for the Adirondack Marine in Lake George, said sales have not been bad. People may be looking more toward buying used models.

He said people are also looking for new in-board engine motor boats. “They’re more fuel efficient than the outboard models,” he said.

He added that these boats are especially useful at the speeds that will be used — 18 mph to 22 mph for wake boarding and 28-34 mph for waterskiing.

He said that the fuel prices are just about $5 on the lake for regular gasoline. Ironically, he said the prices for gas at the marina used to be “astronomical.”

“They used to be $4.25 when gas was down at $1.99. Now, they can’t get away with such a large [profit] margin,” he said.

While the lake has been quieter, industry sales are up. He said a lot of people are realizing the longevity of these boats.

“They’re more than just water skiing and wake boarding boats, they’re great cruising boats,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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