What’s cooler than gracefully skating over water and waves? Absolutely nothing! Wakeboarding has become an increasingly popular water sports and for good reasons. Not only is the feeling of gliding over waves extremely satisfying but being out there in the open waters and fresh air is a reward in itself.
There are essentially two types of wakeboarding. The traditional method of being towed behind a motorboat or the newer and more systematic closed cable systems that have a series of automated cables that drag you along a constructed course.
The idea behind wakeboarding is simple; build enough pressure against the water (by being towed) so that you can eventually stand up. Once you’re standing up you can do a variety of maneuvers by turning, twisting and bending your body.
Here are some basic things you will need before you start hitting the waves.
Choose the method of wakeboarding – generally either motor boat or closed-course cable. For beginner’s I recommend closed-course cable systems simply because there are different courses depending on your experience. For more intermediate to expert wakeboarders the motor boat method is far more challenging and enjoyable.
- Wakeboard - You can either higher your own wake board or purchase your own. It is well worth it if you are looking to wakeboard in the long run.
- Life jacket - It is essential that you always have on your life jacket as it is extremely difficult to swim when your legs are locked to the wakeboard.
- Sunscreen - If you’re going to be in the sun all day then a waterproof sunscreen is a wise decision.
- Gloves (Optional) - If you have delicate hands then investing in gloves may also be a good idea as the initial tension from being pulled can strain your fingers and hands.
If you’re not used to the force of being dragged almost violently by a boat then I recommend doing some stretches before and after to avoid injury or muscle aches later. Your stretches should focus mainly on the legs (quadriceps and hamstrings) and arms (shoulders, forearms and triceps) as these are the main muscle groups that will be strained.
The best time to go wakeboarding is during low tide or when the waters are still. The more ‘choppy’ (large waves) the water is the more difficult it is to keep afloat the water. Aim for either early morning or late afternoon when the tides are lower.
If you’re a beginner It’s best to go with less people rather than more since you will need some time to get the hang of it. Typically it will take about 6-10 times of trial and error before you can stand up on the water.
Before you actually start wakeboarding you’re instructor will usually give you some instructions as to how to get afloat. For those who want a detailed visual guide to getting up on the water check out the video below otherwise I’ll try my best to explain the crucial steps.
Here are the essential moves and techniques you need to get up and stay up on the water.
- First assume a floating position by laying on your back in the water with wakeboard facing the direction you will be travelling.
- Next, crouch towards your wakeboard by bending your knees up to your chest, with elbows on the outside and around of your knees – almost as if you were squatting whilst lying on your back in the water.
- Keep your chin high, arms fairly relaxed yet firm and let your heels slide against your buttocks.
- As soon as the boat pulls you forward allow the force against the water and the wakeboard to pull your chest forward. It is important not to panic or rush the process, just allow the boat to firmly pull you out of the water.
- There will be a point where the pulling force of the boat and the friction of the board against the water gets ‘stuck’, this is the point at which you should stand up by straightening your knees. If you assumed the sideways wakeboard position you will need to use your hips to ‘turn’ the wakeboard so that it is pointing in the direction you are facing.
- If you done everything right you should be successfully standing up now! Make sure you’re facing the boat instead of looking down at the water. Keep your arms straight, relaxed, firm and at stomach level, near your hips. Keep your knees forward and slightly bent, and lean back slightly.
Key Points to Remember
- Always keep your arms relaxed yet firm, never pull on the handle bar, instead let the boat pull you always.
- Maintain an upright posture, with back straight and knees slightly bent.
- Keep your hips in front of you and lean back slightly so that you let the boat do all the pulling.
- Always look straight forward or higher. Your body goes wherever your eyes tell it to go. If you look down then you will more than likely fall into the water.
Once you get the hang of getting up onto the water and staying there it’s only a matter of learning to manoeuvre on the water. You can slowly build up your repertoire of tricks and moves as you gain more control.
Wakeboarding can be an extremely challenging sport yet with time and dedication you can learn to conquer the wake just like how a surfer rides waves. It is truly one of the most rewarding and enjoyable water sports out there.