Title:
Handle for a water sports tow rope
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In a water sports tow rope handle, an improved grip portion which is curved such that it contours with a user's body when passed from hand to hand behind a user's back while performing rotational turns. The grip portion is generally C-shaped with the arms of the “C” extending outwardly from the diverging ends of a V-shaped yoke and curving smoothly into the curved grip portion.



Inventors:
Smith, Brian K. (Seattle, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/205591
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/15/2005
Assignee:
Connelly Skis, Inc. (Lynnwood, WA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B35/85
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VASUDEVA, AJAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
1. A water sports tow rope handle comprising: a web adapted to be connected to a tow rope; a pair of legs, each leg having a proximal end attached to said web and a distal end, said legs diverging outwardly from said web generally in a V-shape; and a handgrip extending between said distal ends of said legs, said handgrip being curved inwardly toward said web.

2. The water sports tow rope handle of claim 1 wherein said handle comprises a single piece formed of a carbon fiber composite.

3. The water sports tow rope handle of claim 1 wherein said handgrip includes a pair of arms and a back portion extending therebetween, said pair of arms extending rearwardly from the distal ends of said diverging legs and said back portion being connected to said arms and curved inwardly toward said web.

4. The water sports tow rope handle of claim 3 wherein each of said arms forms an angle of less than 90° with said back portion.

5. (canceled)

6. The water sports tow rope handle of claim 3 wherein the transition from the arms to the curved back portion of the handgrip is a smooth curve such that a user may comfortably hold the handgrip at any point along its length.

7. The water sports tow rope handle of claim 1 wherein the curve of said handgrip toward said web defines a circular arc having a radius between 30 and 42 inches.

8. A handle for a water sports tow rope comprising: a yoke portion having a web adapted to be connected to a tow rope; a pair of legs, each leg having a proximal end attached to said web and a distal end, said pair of legs diverging outwardly from said web generally in a V-shape; and a handgrip portion extending between said distal ends of said legs, said handgrip having a center portion connected to a pair of oppositely disposed arms said center portion extending inwardly toward said web.

9. The handle of claim 8, wherein said handgrip portion is generally C-shaped, said arms extending outwardly from the distal ends of said legs and said center portion being curved inwardly toward said web.

10. The handle of claim 9, wherein the curve of said handgrip center portion is a circular arc having a radius of approximately 36 inches in length.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to water sports of the type where a participant is towed across water by a rope connected to a vessel and, more particularly, to a handle connected to the end of the rope and gripped by the user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In water sports such as water skiing, and particularly wake boarding, the water skier or wake boarder often performs tricks while being pulled across the water. A common trick, particularly in wake boarding, is a spin that involves the user passing the handle connected to the tow rope from one hand to the other behind his or her back while rotating the body 360° or more. Many modern water ski handles are triangular in shape and include a V-shaped yoke portion connected to the tow rope or to a bridle that is, in turn, connected to the tow rope, and a handgrip portion that forms the rearmost leg of the triangle. A principal problem for the user performing a spin is to successfully pass the water ski handle behind his or her back with one hand and grip it with the other to complete the trick without falling. Known triangular water sports handles typically employ a handgrip that is straight and that is connected to the diverging legs of the yoke of the handle at very acute angles. Such a design neither facilitates passing the handle behind a user's back nor allows easy and comfortable gripping of the handle at the acute angled corners of the gripping bar.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to overcoming the problems of the prior art and, in particular, comprises a water sports handle including a handgrip portion extending between the diverging legs of a yoke wherein the corners of the handgrip are rounded for easy and comfortable gripping and wherein the central portion of the handgrip bar is curved inwardly toward the yoke to allow it to contour to the user's body when the handgrip is passed behind the user's back. In one embodiment, the handgrip portion of the handle is generally “C-shaped” with the arms of the handgrip extending outwardly from the ends of the diverging legs of the yoke portion of the handle while the back portion of the C-shaped handgrip is connected between the outer ends of the arms and is curved such that the central portion of the gripping bar curves toward the web portion of the yoke to which the tow rope is connected. A cover may be provided for the handgrip portion of the handle to improve its gripability and reduce the likelihood of it slipping from the user's grasp. In a preferred embodiment, the handle is formed of carbon fiber materials molded in a single piece.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily apparent by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a water sports handle made in accordance with the present invention showing the handgrip portion of the handle in dashed lines beneath a grip cover; and

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the water sports handle of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the drawings, a water sports handle 10 is disclosed having a handgrip portion 12 and a yoke portion 14. Yoke 14 includes a web 16 having a pair of diverging legs 18 and 20 each leg having a proximal end attached to said web extending outwardly from the web to a distal end generally in a V-shape.

The web portion of the handle includes a conventional tow rope or tow rope bridle attachment mechanism comprising tow rope receiving hole 22 and rope lock receptacle 24. While the rope itself is not illustrated in the drawings, it will be understood that a rope or bridle having a plug attached to its end is threaded through hole 22 via its opening in receptacle 24, the plug being shaped to mate with and be held in rope lock receptacle 24 to connect the handle to the tow rope. The other end of the tow rope is connected to a tow boat or other tow vessel by conventional means.

As shown in the drawings, yoke arms 18 and 20 are generally rectangular in shape with the size of the rectangle increasing as the legs diverge outwardly from web 16 to their connecting points with handgrip portion 12. It will be understood, however, that the cross section of the diverging legs of the yoke may be of any suitable cross-sectional shape or dimension.

As illustrated, handgrip 12 is generally C-shaped and includes a pair of arms 30 and 32 extending rearwardly from the distal ends 26 and 28 of said legs to relatively smooth corner curves 34 and 36 that transition into the back grip portion 33 of the C-shaped handgrip. Back portion 33 curves inwardly toward yoke 16 rather than running straight between corners 34 and 36 as taught by the prior art. Thus, in the disclosed embodiment, said arms form an angle of less than 90° with said back grip portion.

It will be understood that when a water skier or wake boarder is towed behind a boat, he or she will normally grip handle 10 near the midpoint of back portion 33 of the handgrip portion 12. However, when performing a trick that involves a spin, the user will position one or the other of his hands at either corner 34 or 36 of the handgrip immediately prior to beginning to rotate his body. As the user's body rotates, curved grip portion 38 passes behind the user's back and the curvature of element 33 contours to the user's back such that the opposite corner 34 or 36 of the handgrip is moved closer to the reaching other hand of the user. Since, at this point, the handle 10 is behind the back of the user, it is important that the corner of the handgrip that will be gripped by the free hand of the user be positioned as close as possible to the free hand to facilitate grasping it. It will be understood that in prior art handles having straight gripping portions rather than curved, the corner of the handle to be gripped by the free hand of the user during a spin is positioned further from the user's grasp than the corner of the curved handgrip disclosed herein.

It has been found that a curvature equal to the curve of a circle having a 36 inch radius provides a satisfactory balance between the easy gripability of the central portion of the handgrip and the movement of the grip toward the free hand of the user during a spin. Curves of lesser or greater radius and thus greater or lesser curvature may also be used, although the extent of the curvature of the grip portion is limited by stress loads at the corners of the handle as well as by the comfort and ease of gripping the curve near its center during normal use. In general, curves having a radii of between 30 and 42 inches in length may be successfully used to accomplish the goals set out herein as may other shapes besides smooth curves that dispose the central portion of the grip bar toward the web portion of the handle and generally contour to a user's back.

In most prior water sports handles, the handgrip portion thereof extends linearly between the ends of the diverging legs of the yoke portion of the handle. Such design creates a very acute angle at the corners where the diverging legs of the yoke curve sharply to transition into the linear grip extending toward the distal end of the other diverging leg. Gripping the acute corners of such a handle while passing it behind the back of the user during a spin is both difficult and uncomfortable. In the present invention, on the other hand, the arms 30 and 32, which extend outwardly from the distal ends 26 and 28 of the yoke legs 18 and 20, allow corners 34 and 36 to be relatively smooth curves approaching right angles. Such curves are much easier for a user to grip and hold tightly while passing the water sports handle behind the back during a spin.

To further facilitate the release and regripping of the handle of the present invention, it is contemplated that the length of the curved back portion 33 of grip portion 12 is preferably longer than the grip of prior handles. In a preferred embodiment, element 33 is designed to have a length of approximately 17 inches as measured from the outside of arm 30 to the outside of arm 32. Grip portions of prior handles are typically no more than 15 inches in length.

As illustrated in the preferred embodiment, handgrip portion 12 is shown to be of circular diameter and somewhat smaller cross section than the ends 26 and 28 of legs 18 and 20 from which arms 30 and 32 extend, but it will be understood that handle portion 12 may be formed with any other suitable cross section.

A cover 38 is shown surrounding grip portion 12, the cover being made of material having a tactile surface that is comfortable and easy to grip and does not become slippery when wet. Conventional EVA or Kryton foams have been found to be suitable for this purpose. It is contemplated that patterns may be formed in the grip cover to additionally facilitate gripping and prevent slipping of the handle from a user's hand.

An advantage of the C-shaped design of the handgrip portion of the disclosed water sports tow rope handle is that the relatively large curves 34 and 36 at the corners of the handgrip portion of the handle allow the grip cover to completely extend over all of the handgrip portion. This was not possible in the prior art due to the acute corner curves where the grip portion transitioned into the diverging legs of the yoke portion of the grip. Thus, the corners of the handle that were gripped when the handle was passed behind the back of the user were typically uncovered.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is: claimed are defined as follows: