Get ready to ride. In the “Boating Basics Tow Sports” series, Mercury-powered pro wakeboarders Carro Djupsjö and Dylan Miller will walk you through everything you need to know to get started enjoying the thrill of wakeboarding and wakesurfing.
Wakeboarding is a fantastic way to enjoy exciting days on the water with family and friends. And the best part is, you don’t need raw strength to be able to ride or even pull off basic tricks. Wakeboarding is all about technique. If you start with a solid foundation, you’ll accelerate your learning process.
To help you out, we turned to the pros: Carro Djupsjö and Dylan Miller. In this article and the included video, they detail everything you need to know to get up behind the boat and start riding. They even cover your first trick. With their help, you’ll be shredding your local waters before you know it
Step 1: Get Ready to Ride
Safety always comes first. Make sure you’re wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is properly sized for your body and the appropriate type for watersports. Check inside your life jacket to make sure it is approved for this purpose.
Once your life jacket is on, stand on the boat’s swim platform and dip your board into the water. This makes it much easier to slide your feet into the bindings. Now, slide your feet in and pull on the strap on the back of each binding so your heels firmly press into place. Cinch the bindings (making sure they’re not too loose or too tight), and then you’re ready to slide into the water.
Step 2: Get Set for the Throttle
Once you’re in the water behind the tow boat, position your wakeboard so its long, flat surface faces the boat. As you hold the handle of your tow rope in front of you, your chest should be facing the boat, and your rope should run between your knees, across the middle of the board.
Signal to the driver that you’re ready to go.
Step 3: Rise and Plane
As the tow boat throttles up and moves forward, your rope will get tight, and you’ll begin to move forward as well. Keep your arms out and knees bent.
As you pick up speed, the board will slide below you as you rise up. Lean back, keeping the board slightly ahead of you so it rises on top of the water as you find your sea legs.
“Don’t rush standing up,” said Miller. “The harder you work to pull yourself up, the more difficult you’ll make it. Let the boat pull you.”
Step 4: Watch Your Riding Posture
Once you’re on top and in control, pivot your handle to your lead hip. If you grew up skateboarding, surfing or snowboarding, you already know which one that is. If you don’t know, however, there’s an easy way to find out.
“Have a friend give you a nudge in the back,” Djupsjö said. “Whichever foot you naturally step forward with is most likely the foot you should have in front while wakeboarding.”
Now you’re in your riding posture. Your chest is up, your knees are bent and you’re holding the handle close to your lead hip.
Pro Tip: Holding your arms out ahead of you is important when you’re first rising out of the water, but once you’re in riding posture, bring the handle as close to your lead hip as possible.
Step 5: Feel the Board
Once you feel comfortable moving in a straight line behind the tow boat, you can start experimenting. Go back and forth across both wakes (the waves from the tow boat) and pay close attention to how the board reacts. You’ll be surprised at how much this will accelerate your learning curve, and then you’ll be ready for the next step. It’s a fun one.
Step 6: Your First Trick
It’s time for a trick, and our experts have a favorite for beginners. It’s called the Surface 180.
First, you should ask your driver to maintain a slow speed anytime you’re learning a new trick. This will minimize the impact if you fall.
Then, once you’re in your riding posture and centered between the wakes, pivot the handle to the hip that is the opposite of your lead hip, keeping it close to your waistline. As you move the handle, your board will move as well, across 180 degrees until your rear leg is now your lead leg.
When you’re in the center of your 180-degree maneuver, with the long edge of your board facing the tow boat, put pressure in your heels to prevent falling forward. When your 180 is complete, you can resume maintaining equal pressure in your heels and toes.
Step 7: Practice Makes Perfect
There are two important things to remember, as a beginner. First, make sure you’re comfortable with controlling your board and executing foundational, building-block tricks like the Surface 180 before trying more difficult, complex tricks. Second, be patient.
“It’s important to remember that everyone learns at a different pace,” Djupsjö said. “Whether you get up on your fifth attempt or your 20th, don’t get discouraged.”
Take breaks when you need them, keep practicing and, most of all, enjoy your time on the water.