When you think of snowmobiles, you think of snow. Go figure right? Different sleds are built to specialize in different types of snow, some for heavy powder, others for ice or snow pack. What you may not know is that sleds can be a lot more diverse than that.
One of the most exciting alternatives is watercross. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like: racing your sled on the water. With a little practice you can turn your favorite winter pass time into your new favorite summer pass time as well.
The first thing to do is lighten up your sled as much as possible. Any tools, belts, extra plugs, etc, especially, things that can't be used on the water anyway, can go. Also remove your seat, because getting the foam that wet can ruin it.
Next select your track. On smaller sleds the stock track will work fine. Larger engines do well with a paddle track. You can also reverse your track for some extra bite in the water. It's as simple as removing it and installing it the other way.
To get going, find some water with a smooth bank. Unless you are prepared to fish your machine out of the water, choose a spot where it isn't very deep. Make sure you have a long enough rope and something to tow it out. Let's be honest, you will sink at some point, and you don't want to be stuck out there.
To stay on top of the water you have to run about 5 mph per 150 pounds. Once you hit the water be very conscious of your balance, it can catch you by surprise. Since you steer by leaning from side to side it can be tricky to get that first little bit right. Once you are at top speed it does get a lot more stable though.
In the event that you begin to sink, kill the engine immediately. If the engine runs underwater it will suck the water in, and can cause serious damage. Either way, water will be inside the sled. Once you pull it back to shore you will have to drain it and clear the engine and exhaust. It may take some work getting ready for the next run, but with patience and practice you'll get to the point that you don't spend too much time on shore.
As always, safety first! Wear a life jacket and helmet, and attach a buoy if the water is deep enough that you may lose sight of the sled. Be prepared to swim to shore if need be. Finally, make sure it's legal in your area. Some places don't allow it due to the inherent danger of the sport.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014 3:00:36 PM America/Denver
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