Since we spend so much time boating, we love to find different watersports and ways to have fun in the water. One of our favorites is Wakeboarding!
While we've tried water skiing a few times, we still haven't mastered that sport, so we pretty much gave up on that and have stuck with wakeboarding. Wakeboards seem to be easier to maneuver and easier to learn on. Unlike waterskis you don't have to worry about keeping your feet together, and the size of the wakeboard makes it easier to stay on top of the water. If you've ever been snowboarding, it's somewhat similar. Most people have a definite feeling toward this sport compared to water skiing one way or the other. We are big fans. And this is how we do it.
When we go out wakeboarding we tie up about 50 feet of rope to the boat and put the wakeboarder in the water with the wakeboard usually already attached to their feet. Once they have a hold of the handle on the end of the rope, the Captain's job begins.
Captain puts the boat into gear at idle speed until the line is taut.
In the mean time the wakeboarder gets into a squatting position in the water with the heels of their feet as close to their rear-end as possible. Once the wakeboarder is ready and the Captain is in position to begin the pull, the boarder gives a holler and the Captain gives it full throttle.
To "pop" out of the water, the wakeboarder holds tightly to the handle on the rope and stays in that squatting position-always leaning back. When the boat starts pulling, the wakeboarder stays in that position until all the way out of the water, once completely up on top of the water, he/she comes to a standing position with knees still very bent. Thats all there is to it!
When the wakeboarder is up on top of the water the Captain levels out speed between 15 and 20 miles an hour and trims up a bit to give an ideal wake for the boarder. We have a hand signal communication that thumbs up means go faster and thumbs down means go slower.
Every wakeboarder may be comfortable at a slightly different speed, but the slower the speed the more difficult it is to stay on top of the water. And if you're going too fast, often times it can feel like a run-a-way train. There is going to be that in between area that is very comfortable, and you'll know it when you're there. You will feel like you're hardly doing anything at all, and you won't have to work at it.
After a bit of wakeboarding and getting comfortable with cruising across the water, the boarder glides in and out of the wake with no problems. Tricks are optional! And its always easiest to learn on that very calm glass-like water.
When we go out to do any water recreation we typically always have atleast 1 extra person on the boat as a spotter or flag holder. Someone to keep their eye on the guy in the water the entire time. It is necessary to have an orange flag out for other boats to see, it alerts them that there is a person in the water to look out for. Rearview mirrors are always helpful too. Also a good life jacket is a must, and they make awesome ones that are meant for sport-so your arms and waist can have good range of motion.
Often the questions most people have when it comes to wakeboarding is how do I know what size board I need, and how do I know what foot should be forward when I put on the bindings.
Board sizes can really vary and most people depend on skill level and weight to decipher length of board. I also take into account height. In my family, we're not large people, pretty slender, so the weight that is associated with a wakeboard size doesn't come in to play, for us, as much as length. I was always told that the wakeboard-when standing on end next to you, should come up and fit under your arm pit. I'm 5'7" and compared to my size, my wakeboard is alittle long, it is a 142, it doesn't fit under my arm pit, but pretty much anyone who comes out boating with us can use it since according to the weight chart it can carry anyone up to 250lbs.
Also since it is alittle on the bigger side, its easier for people to learn on, there is more surface area, which means more area to sit on top of the water and become a platform for the rider. A longer board gives more feeling of control and glides on the water smoothly. It may be alittle difficult to do tricks with a larger board-since it is heavier, but when you are able to do any tricks, the landings will be easier to master since you have that large surface area. A smaller, lighter board will be easier to catch some air with, but the landings will be alittle tougher to stick. Going by skill level is a no-brainer, get a board for the skill level you are at now, not what you want to be at.
You can get a good price on boards, especially if you get a "blemished Wakeboard" or a Blem Wakeboard. They are wakeboards that were manufactured just like all the others, but have some small cosmetic difference, typically something small with the paint. And usually the blemish is so small you'll never even notice it.
Bindings are subjective. Some people love a good full boot, others don't want something so "restrictive" or they want several different sizes of feet to be able to wear them so an open toe boot may be best. Some bindings are very flexible where others are very stiff. No one can tell you how to choose a binding you'll like, except for you, your skill level, and how you plan on using your board. Stiff boots are good for beginners they help keep you in line and focus more on speed, whereas softer boots let you have the flexability to adjust board direction ever so slightly and maneuverability is alot easier.
As far as which foot you want forward-everyone is different. We've come up with a simple test to help figure out which foot you want forward when strapping into the bindings on the wakeboard. Have the soon-to-be wakeboarder stand with plenty of room in front of him/her. Without him/her knowing, push them from behind with enough force so that they must catch themselves by putting one foot out in front of them. The foot that automatically comes forward to catch them is their front foot. We've tried going against this rule many times, but every time we think the test lied, we find out that it was right all along. Alot of times when we do this to someone new, they say "but I'm right-handed, so I'm pretty sure I'm right-footed too!". Not necessarily.
Wakeboarding is a fun and challenging sport that can not only keep you on your toes, but give you a good work-out at the same time! Hopefully we sparked an interest for you and you come to enjoy wakeboarding as we do! See you on the water!