Who is SkiJay
a.k.a. The Fin Whisperer
My name is Jay (SkiJay) Poscente. I’m not a world or national champion water skier. I’m not even a deep-shortline skier. So how did I come to be known as the Fin Whisperer? The short answer is because I devoted a few years to figuring out how water ski tuning actually works, then wrote a book about it—Fin Whispering.
Before that, I raced cars, superbikes, karts, sailplanes, luge, and snow skis, winning 12 motorsports championships and setting national records along the way. I worked hard at being competitive, and it helped that I had an innate ability to understand how the equipment worked, and what could be done to make it work better. From the first time I laid eyes on a tournament water ski, I couldn’t help but wonder what performance gains were lurking within that fascinating little adjustable fin. Since I’d spent most of my life maximizing the performance of every vehicle I could get my hands on, I couldn’t resist figuring out the slalom ski too.
Compared to the complex mechanical interrelationships in a formula car chassis, the tuning options on a slalom ski seemed relatively simple. But my early research revealed nothing but confusion and widespread disagreement. On some docks, asking a simple setup question was like launching a contentious political or religious debate. Nobody wanted to expose how little they knew about ski-tuning, so the topic was somewhat taboo. Magazines and the web weren’t much help either, since famous ski pros and ski manufacturers often contradicted each other. Sometimes the experts even contradicted themselves one paragraph to the next.
Finally out of frustration, I set out to figure it all out for myself—through emperical testing. Soon my ski-tuning curiosity blossomed into a full-fledged obsession. I was skiing almost daily. And while constantly working on technique, every set also included a ski-testing component. And with help from Shuswap Ski & Board, I got to do all this testing on a wide selection of the newest skis, year after year.
I couldn’t get enough of this fascinating puzzle, so we bought a home on a tournament lake in Florida and forged on, skiing as many as 400 sets per year. Some skiers get obsessed with tournament skiing; I got obsessed with fully understanding and documenting slalom ski behavior.
Now, over a decade into this project, I’m still experimenting. But it’s not so much about how things work anymore. Now the research is more about improving ski and fin design, and playing with creative ways of manipulating ski performance to better support advanced skiing techniques. I’ve also discovered how tremendously satisfying it is to help other skiers of all levels, novice through pro.
I love seeing skiers light up with excitement over newfound trust in their custom-tuned ski. In fact what prompted the writing of Fin Whispering in the first place was one such incident. At a tournament a while back, a woman I’d helped out a few weeks earlier burst out of the crowd and laid a big heartfelt hug on me. She then looked me straight in the eye and thanked me profusely for having helped her set up the best ski she had ever ridden. With tears welling up in her eyes, she went on to explain how she had been on the verge of quitting water skiing altogether, but that skiing was so much fun again, she could hardly wait for her next tournament.
This sincere show of gratitude was soul-stirring. I’ve long appreciated how blessed my sporting life has been, but in that instant, she’d made me realize that perhaps sharing what I’ve learned about this obscure craft would be a good way to pay something forward … and here we are.
I sincerely hope you’ll find something on this website that helps take your skiing to the next level.