Get To Know Ski Paradise Guest Coach Will Bush
Northern California native Will Bush has spent the better part of his life completely immersed in water skiing. From tournament skiing and winning titles as he’s progressed through the age divisions of USA Water Ski to providing record pulls as a chief driver in elite events throughout the world and shaping world-record setting skis, his many contributions to the sport have been well received. Will’s always been a builder and fixer. He loves the challenge of looking at something, taking it apart, and figuring out why it works and then improving on the process. It’s his love for maximizing performance that has not only made him an invaluable team member for D3 Skis and MasterCraft Boats but an amazing coach who profoundly cares about helping his students progress.
Tell us a little bit about your skiing background. How and when did you get involved in the sport?
I started skiing at age 7 with my family at Lake Tahoe. It was then that I got my first wetsuit given that the warmest the surface water at Tahoe gets in the summer is 65 degrees. My First tournaments were in my 20’s. I got so hooked that I built Shortline Lake, in Elk Grove, CA.
Describe the engineering and design work that you’ve done for D3 and MasterCraft through the years? What do you enjoy most about the R&D process?
I have always been a builder and fixer. I think it’s the challenge of looking at something, taking it apart, figuring out why it works and then improving on the process. With D3 Skis, my role today is design and engineering. For the most part, I have focused on slalom ski shaping and design. When I first started working with Denny Kidder, a lot of the pre-work was done with files, sandpaper, and bondo. Today, everything we do is in CAD (Computer Aided Design). The automated tools we have are awesome. We can model a ski, perform curve and rocker analysis and look at it in 3D before cutting a mold. The enjoyment is taking a concept and turning it into reality – then skiing it! For MC – I provide on the water testing and feedback along with design ideas. I was part of the design team building the new ProStar and continue to work on future ski boat improvements.
As a pro tournament driver for many years (how many?), what is your current national and world-record count?
I have driven pro events for close to 30 years. I have been fortunate to be chief driver of the World Championships, US Masters, U.S. Open, Malibu Open, MasterCraft Pro Tour, Marine World, Budweiser Tour, Pan American Games, US Team Trials, U.S. Nationals, along with Disabled World Championships, California ProAm, Calgary Pro Shoot Out, and other international events. While I have driven many world records, I don’t keep a list. My philosophy has always been the credit and focus should be on the skier/athlete, not the driver. My goal is to make the skier feel confident that I will do my job at the boat end of the rope so they can concentrate and perform to their max potential at the other end of the rope.
What advice would you give to drivers who struggle to provide a reliable pull?
Practice, practice, Practice. Just like an athlete in peak shape, as a driver you to have to practice and train. Know each boat, know the speed control systems and how to troubleshoot issues, set up an end course video camera where you record each pass you drive, every day. Talk to skiers, solicit feedback. Talk to other drivers. Train and practice some more!
How many years have you been coaching at Ski Paradise and what do you love about the setup in Acapulco?
Elaine [Will’s wife] and I have been at Ski Paradise every year since Gordon first arrived in Acapulco in late 1989/90. Typically, we are there twice each year for multiple weeks. We never get tired of going back.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Some coaches have a routine and personal skiing style that works for them, and they tend to impart that technique on those they coach. While I know what works well for me, my goal is to maximize the skier’s strengths and skills. We come in all shapes and sizes. While there are fundamentals that we all need to focus on as we ski, each skier is unique, and there are many ways to get to the end result. Finding the interaction between the coach and student is key.
What is your most memorable water ski experience?
My most memorable water ski experience is the many friends we have made all over the world. Most folks won’t remember what our buoy count was for that day, but we will always recall the interaction and friendships we have made.
What would you tell a fellow skier who is considering a vacation to Ski Paradise?
The key word is vacation. Many skiers have been to ski schools. Yes, you can ski all the sets your body can handle, but enjoy the vacation. This is nothing like you have ever experienced. You are greeted when you arrive at the Acapulco airport; chauffeured to Villa Aquina and your luxurious room/suite. Early each day we drive you out to the ski lake where you can relax between sets in a 2000 sq. foot palapa. The beach and ocean are a few hundred-yard walk from the ski site. Afternoons are typically spent back at the villa relaxing around the pool or in the spa before dinner.
What do find that most intermediate skiers struggle with and how do you help them?
Like most skiers, we have this obsession with the course. I encourage skiers to spend more time focusing on technique and less time worrying that they didn’t make the next buoy. By focusing on technique, your skills will progressively get better, and the buoys will come.
Do you have any student success stories that you'd care to share?
Many. Success in my mind is to improve your skills as a skier, have some fun, minimize frustration and enjoy skiing. Our success is indicative of the many skiers that return to Ski Paradise during our weeks, year after year.
~ Will Bush