Wakeboarding is a board sport unlike most in that you need a giant motor to pull you. So if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who owns a boat get ready for an awesome time, wakeboarding provides an awesome feeling of speed and glide. Think of it as some of the best elements of surfing and snowboarding plus a fun day at the lake or river!
Sign me up! Photos from wakeboardingmag.com
I’ve touched on the basic elements of wakeboarding so far, boat and board. To me, without a doubt having an experienced boat captain is the most important part of wakeboarding. Boating is a dangerous activity on its own. Throwing someone out of the boat and pulling them with a rope only serves to ups the anti. But enough buzz-kill, there are other reasons why a good captain is important.
Trusting the person driving the boat is key, look for someone who’s towed wakeboarders or water skiers before. It is also important for the captain to avoid sending beginners into large wakes when possible. The captain will also be responsible for creating primo wakes for boarders to jump when they become more advanced!
If you are new to towing a wakeboarder note that the average wakeboarding speed is far lower than the speed needed to pull a water-skier. Wakeboards can get away with going about 20mph at first. Also note that it is not a good idea to “whip” around a beginner wakeboarder like you would when pulling an inner-tube.
An orange flag must be displayed when someone is getting ready to take off, or has fallen. If you’re not familiar with how to flag while boating see this reference. It is absolutely necessary.
The person flagging also should be watching for hand signals from the boarder. Usually thumbs up is faster, thumbs down slower. To ask the boat to stop hold your hand out palm facing forward. Make sure you talk to your flag person about these signals before getting in the water.
The good stuff
1. Put your feet in the bindings while sitting on the back of the boat facing away from the hull. Make sure the rope is untangled and secured, holding the rope hop in.
*The engine should not be running at this point, the boat should drift away from the boarder before starting the prop.
*Always avoid the prop for obvious reasons.
*If you are handling the rope don’t let your hand get caught in a knot.
3. Take-off position is NOT with the nose of the board aimed straight at the boat, always turn the board to an angle of about 45 degrees.
4. When the line is straight and the boat starts to pull, keep your board at 45 degrees and your knees tucked (like doing a cannonball). Relax and let the boat do the work!
5. Taking off is like learning to ride a bike or taking off surfing, it takes some trial and lots of error, but once you get it sticks.
Here’s some tips to help things go smoothly
-Choosing a board: wider boards are going to be easier to ride for beginners. The surface area of a wakeboard is what accounts for the speed difference when pulling a skier vs. pulling a boarder.
-Bring along the dish-soap? A little soap will help you get into sticky bindings with ease!
-If you fall taking off, let go of the rope. Holding on will drag you through the water, unless you want to become a dolphin I don’t recommend it.
-The boat needs to move very slowly until there is a slight tension on the line and then jump in speed to pull the boarder up out of the water. This takes timing. Patience for the boarder and the captain will pay off greatly.
-Life-vests: are like seatbelts for being on a boat, use them. They make wakeboarding easier too, why swim when you can float?
Up and riding? Great job! When you get comfortable, try holding on with one hand. Turning, crossing the wake and catching air are all in your future if you wish. Should I write on these for the next installment? Let us know what you think on The Nice Rack Facebook, while you’re there let us know what you think of the questions below!
Where’s the best place to wakeboard?
Who’s your favorite pro wakeboarder?
Who would win in a fight, wakesurfing or wakeskating?