From the „One man show“ to the world marketleader in Full Size Cables

Bruno Rixen invented the water ski cableways 60 years ago...

The technical demands of the water-skiers, wakeboarders and the cableway owners had increased continuously and had been realized with constantly development work. Wakeboarding is making a huge progress besides water-skiing.

The technical development has changed the drive concept from the old belt drive to the state of art frequency regulated, computer steering drive with newest touch screen displays with highest operating convenience.

This steering eases the work of the operator, takes over a lot of working steps and offers the operator much more time to take care of his clients. Additionally the security level rises also. Due to over 60 years of experience and close cooperation with the numerous cableway clients, the Rixen Cableways are well known for their reliability.

His know-how and enthusiasm made it possible that Mr. Bruno Rixen, the inventor of the water-ski cableways, developed his small company to the world market leader in Full Size Cables. Meanwhile there exist more than 300 operating Rixen Full size Cableways in 48 countries and 6 continents.

Rixen Cableway is ready for the challenges of the next years to expand more and more. We work hard for our aim to deliver our clients always reliable, best equipped and modern cableways with the top service.

From prototype to series production

The running cable had to be improved so that it had a durability of at least 1000 hours for 100 days in summertime.

Today the durability of the running cables with 11.000 hours is equivalent to 8 years of use. After 2 years of attempts with a prototype in Hamburg and another 2 years with a larger prototype on the baltic see, 1966 the first commercial Rixen water-ski cableway was build in Benidorm, Spain. Meanwhile, in 55 years and over 70.000 operating hours, the cableway Benidorm is still successful working despite the hard conditions (saltwater, offshore, fullseason).

Aufbau einer Seilbahn

In 1969 the first ever water-ski championship at a cableway was organized by Bruno Rixen. Since then at all water-ski cableways regularly take place national and international championships.
After the premises have been fulfilled that in 10 countries water ski cableway clubs are existing, the first official European Championship took place 1985 in Langenfeld, Germany. 14.000 visitors where counted!

The requirements of the contestants to the cableway during the championships have been enormous. Also the requirement of liability of the water-ski cableway had to be proved, as it could not changed against another one. But all these requirements had Bruno Rixen already considered and realized, as he gained valuable experience from former championships.

The idea of a water-ski cableway was born

The graduate engineer Bruno Rixen, an addicted water-skier always asked himself why this magnificent sport is not that popular. A market research showed that waterskiing had two big disadvantages: By boat very expensive and fewer opportunities with very long waiting time.

The idea of a water-ski cableway was born and had to be realised. After spending a lot of time and money on prototypes during two years, there was no way back. In the year 1961 Bruno Rixen founded his first company “RIXEN SEILBAHNEN”. Additional to the technical challenges there have been early financial difficulties to cope with. But Bruno Rixen kept on inventing and developing – as he took his power from the feeling of success and his pleasure in waterskiing.

Patents and finances

37 Inventions had been sorted, controlled and patented. The finances in those years had been limited so as a result the protection by patent was mainly used for the two cable principle and the starting-principle. Only the two cable principle allows the skier or wakeboarder to swing out on both sides of the cable and ride far away from the cable – under full traction. Even he can let out the handle without causing derailing.

The profitability of a cableway was only given when several skiers could ride continuously at the same time. Therefore the problem of the start was the biggest problem to solve, as it is not possible to stop the cableway each time to engage a skier. 

Herr Rixen beim Schweißen

Bruno Rixen positioned the skier not as usual under the cable to engage him to the running cable, he positioned him aside in full towing line length from the cable. The skier accelerates continuously until he is below the running cable. The coupled tow line is transported promptly but the far away standing skier is accelerating slowly up to the running cable speed. This solution which seems so simple was the groundbreaking innovation which builds the base for all cableways until today.

Despite all these important innovations and years of experiments with cable guide, cable twist and derailing, Bruno Rixen was still in the early stages of waterskiing with a water ski cableway.

The history continues...

As in the late 50ies and early 60ies the tourism developed very fast and the winter sports gained more and more it was obvious to make it possible to ride at a cableway.

Wie alles begann...

There were hundreds of ski-lifts built in Germany which increased the winter-tourism enormous. Meanwhile there are about 15.000 Ski lifts in Europe. Without these lifts skiing and snowboarding would almost be impossible.

The demands of the water-skiers to a cableway are much higher than those of the skiers which only have to be pulled up the hill:

  • Instead of a speed of 10 km/h at the ski-lift, for the water ski demands the international regulation speed is up to 58 km/h
  • Instead of a friction force of 40 kg the water ski cableway has to cope with 200kg
  • The dangerous and feared force crossway to the cable is 10 times higher than at each ski lift!

These demands haven’t been solved by the big cableway industry, even by investing millions. However, even with solving these 3 problems, it wouldn’t have been done, there were still sdditional difficulties which had to be solved:

  • further waterskiers have to be coupled into the running cable on full-speed without stopping the cable
  • the distance of 310 m had to be overstretched without a intermediate support to give space for a slalom course
  • find a solution to solve the 90° corner at 58 km/h without falling in the water

In addition, there were numerous technical detail questions, the solution of which was essential and was solved by Bruno Rixen.


Over the years Bruno Rixen and the Company got many awards. Among many, especially the following four are to be mentioned:

  • Bavarian Export Prize
  • German Federal Cross of Merit for Bruno Rixen
  • Hall of Fame (IWWF)
  • Certificate of Appreciation (IWWF)