POLK CITY, Fla. — Eight towboat manufacturers are expected to participate in USA Water Ski's Annual Towboat Evaluations this September 21-22 at the Lakes at Cypress Hill in Cypress, Texas. USA Water Ski's Towboat and Speed Control committees, technical experts and elite water ski athletes will conduct the tests, which ensure skiers, drivers and officials optimum conditions in competitions. Each towboat will be tested using a set of performance standards established by the Committees to verify suitability for tournament use.

"USA Water Ski-approved status is highly sought after in the towboat manufacturing industry," said Steve McDermeit, USA Water Ski's executive director. "Approved status qualifies a towboat to pull hundreds of USA Water Ski events nationwide, making it available to our more than 40,000 members year-round. Most importantly, approved status serves as proof of a towboat's high performance and design quality."

Each towboat must pass a series of 11 tests and sub-tests to qualify as an approved tournament towboat. Boats will be evaluated on power and acceleration, handling and maneuverability, engineering, drivability, sound level, slalom course center-line deviation, slalom spray, jumping center-line deviation, jumping wake, slalom wake and tricks wake. To have a boat evaluated, a manufacturer must be a USA Water Ski Gold Corporate Member, and a member of the American Water Ski Educational Foundation and Water Sports Industry Association.

Successful completion of the towboat evaluations offers many other advantages besides allowing a manufacturer to pull tournaments. Many city and community-owned lakes, as well as many private developments, only allow USA Water Ski Approved towboats on their waterways. Approved towboats also carry more value to marine dealers in terms of marketability.

Once approved, manufacturers are encouraged to actively participate in USA Water Ski sanctioned tournaments. With involvement in a predetermined number of sanctioned tournaments at various levels of competition, a boat becomes eligible to participate in Regional championships and is on the path to pulling one of the most sought after events in the United States - the Water Ski National Championships. In 2002, three manufacturers — Correct Craft, Malibu and MasterCraft — participated in enough USA Water Ski-sanctioned events to earn the prestigious distinction of serving as national championship towboats. Towboat manufacturers expected to participate in this year's evaluations are: Elan Boats, Correct Craft, Gekko, Infinity, MB Sports, Malibu, MasterCraft and Tige.