You’ve fallen off. You’ve made it back to the ski, treading water next to it you catch your breath, look up at the water sloshing around in the tray and wonder how the heck you are going to climb back in there.
The deep water start gets a full article because it can be a bear of a skill to learn early on. Unless you plan on swimming the ski back to the shore every time you fall off, you might want to put the deep water start in your repertoire.
Can’t Stand to Stand
The main reason deep water starts can be difficult is because you have to heft your entire body weight into the tray (usually tired after a wipeout), get moving, and stand all while keeping the back of the stand up from sinking and you falling back into the drink. Just like shallow water starts you can follow the knee in the tray or body drag methods, just without being able to initially stand on firm ground.
Put your lanyard in while you are comfortably floating beside your ski. That limits the amount of time you sit unmoving, and wobbling, in the tray after spending all the energy clambering in there. Get to the back of the ski and place your hands in the back of the tray. You can also place one hand on the back of the tray and the other on the bars or side of the tray, whatever is comfortable for you. However you orient your hands, use one or two to press the back of the tray under water, simultaneously kicking up with your feet.
As the tray submerges and your body pops out of the water, bring your dominant knee into the tray and use the other leg to trail behind for balance. Grasp the bars, hit the start button, give the ski a little throttle to plane, and rise just like you would performing a shallow water start. This method takes some initial balance, but it is more natural to get to the standing position.
Body Drag Start
Once again, I prefer the knee start to avoid the awkward body drag, but sometimes the body drag method is a necessity depending on ski size, water conditions, and rider fatigue. This method fortunately does not differ greatly in shallow or deep water. Same as the knee start, put in your lanyard before getting in the tray. Submerge the back of the tray while laying down similar to a seal on the beach, your stomach or hips should rest in the tray as you grab the handlebars with outstretched arms.
Start the ski and once you feel like there is enough stability, pull your body forward and press down on the bars all while performing a strong dolphin kick to pop your knee(s) into the tray. From here you can continue kneeling or rise to a standing position. Strong upper body and core strength make the body drag start easier, otherwise the fish flopping on land image comes to mind.
The deep water start can be daunting to new riders due to the fact that they usually have to be performed after a wipeout and the body might be resembling a limp noodle. With nothing to support your body to get into the tray strength, balance, and coordination are key players in the deep water start game. Get ahead of the curve, practice deep water starts near the shore to avoid the swim of shame if you wipe out far from shore.