Maherajah Water Skis
The History & Legend
Bob Maher is the oldest water ski manufacturer in the world, he began building water skis in 1950 when he was 12. He estimates he has built over 90,000 skis and takes pride in saying that he has brought smiles to 90,000 people all over the world.
In 1957 Bob began winning ski races in San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay and at Lake Isabella. Bob had also skied the Catalina Race 7 times, twice with his daughter Mary in “mixed doubles”. Skiing the grueling Sydney Bridge to Bridge in 59 minutes when he was 52 is one of Bob’s most memorable races.
In 2012, Bob was inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame for “design & innovation”. Today’s skis made by all other manufacturers feature many of these innovations. Bob is most excited these days about his NEW Crown Longboard Racing ski. Maherajah has built record-setting skis for many world champions, in both racing and slalom. If a skier isn’t on a MAHA, chances are it’s a copy! Handcrafted from white ash with its trademark mahogany pin stripe under the skillful eye of Bob Maher at his Sausalito workshop in 1966, a special ski was created. Of course, every custom ski Maher has produced since 1950 is unique in some form or fashion. But this “Maherajah 3.5”, with its classic pointed tip, concave bottom, sharp bevels and flat rocker design, would help define a future water ski legend’s young career.
Enter 13-year-old Castro Valley, California native Kris LaPoint. With his new wooden tunnel concave Maherajah, LaPoint arrived at the Tournament of Champions in San Diego’s Mission Bay only to discover that his junior boys division was not allowed in the event. His only option was to compete in the older boys’ age division, which required skiing at 36 mph, a considerable departure from his usual 34 mph boat speed. The news didn’t phase LaPoint one bit. The tall, lanky teenager miraculously adapted to the increased boat speed and blazed the course, setting a new world slalom record with three buoys at 36 off (equivalent to 35 off/12m today). It was the first of seven world records for LaPoint, and the occasion marked the beginning of an era of dominance he had on this special ski.
From 1966 to 1972, LaPoint and his famed “Maha” accomplished great things on the water, like winning five Masters titles, the first being in 1967 when he won the event by an amazing 16 buoys over his second-place competitor. “It was definitely my hay day,” recalls LaPoint. “Although I won quite a few events later in my career, my most dominant time was on that ski in the late ’60s and early ’70s.” LaPoint is, without a doubt, one of the enduring faces of pro water skiing.
Historical Time Line:
1950: Maherajah Water Skis was born! Under the porch of their summer cabin on Clear Lake’s Jago Bay, the Maher brothers- Bill Maher 15, and Bob Maher 12 (the helper)—began building water skis.
1950-53: The word was out. Local skiers would boat over to the cabin to buy a pair of Maherajah water skis. Bill signed up for a 4 year stint in the U.S. Coast Guard.
1954: Bob was designing new skis and ski components while attending high school in Pleasant Hill, California. Bob competed against Chuck Stearns (the next world champion) in slalom and jump at Lake Merritt located in Oakland, California.
1955: Bob’s latest innovations, the slalom “heel holder” and twin 60 fins were a big hit and sold well. Bill (on leave) skied his first race around Alameda on “doubles” while his brother Bob drove and their dad observed.
1956: Bill Maher sold his interest in Maherajah to his little brother Bob for $250.
1957: Maherajah manufactures the first slalom skis with “drop thru” fins. This innovation remains popular today.
1958: Carl Braito (of Braito’s Marina on Clear Lake) helped Bob to develop the spring binding and grooved bottom ski. Later, Bob Maher enters his first ski race at Pittsburgh, CA, and later won his first race in Sausalito.
1959: Bob Maher moved his shop into his Dad’s trucking terminal in Oakland, while serving in the United States Coast Guard Reserve.
1960: Maherajah Water Skis sets up shop in Sausalito to be near the San Francisco bay. Bob’s new idea—different sized skis for different sized skiers and skiing speeds. It would become another standard for the industry. The skis now feature beveled edges for better handling.
1961: The first pair of Double High Wrap bindings (Bob’s “Mr. M” design) was sold to Nick Marotta of Monterey, California. These bindings remain the most copied bindings in the world. This original design is still one of the hottest selling bindings today, used for both water skiing and wakeboarding.
1963: Maherajah becomes the first manufacturer to sell tunnel concave skis—another innovation that is a mainstay in the industry to this day.
1966: Maherajah Water Skis moves to Healdsburg, CA. A young 14-year old Kris LaPoint enters and wins The Tournament of Champions in San Diego on his new custom made Maherajah 3.5 concave slalom ski setting a new world record of 3 at 36 off.
1967-68: Ski research, development, and assembly move to Braito’s Marina, on Clear Lake. Kris LaPoint wins the Masters Slalom Tournament on his 3.5 Maherajah!
1970: Bob LaPoint wins and establishes the National Slalom Record for Jr. Boys on a 3.5 Maherajah.
1972: The famous Maherajah “Right On” girl poster (Suzanne Sommers) is created.
1975: Maherajah skiers, Browyn Wright and Wayne Ritchie, both from Australia, win the World Ski Racing Championships on the “Super Maha” fiberglass racing skis. Skiing on the new racing ski, John Belvail won the Men’s Open class Nor-Cal Championships, Men’s Open Pacific Coast Championships, and took a third place in the Long Beach/Catalina Ski Race.
1977: Maherajah enjoys success with its skateboards and customized wood van accessories. The Maherajah 360 proves to be a modern cutting-edge ski.
1980: Bob LaPoint takes the World Slalom title on a wood MAHA.
2012: Bob Maher is inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame for “design & innovation.” All of today’s skis made by other manufacturers incorporate many of these innovations.