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Wakeboard Driving 101

I think anyone who has ever wakeboarded has at some point been the victim of bad driving. Here are ten tips and reminders on some of the finer points of being behind the wheel.

  1. Hold the throttle stick with your forefingers and thumb and keep your right elbow gently rested on the drivers pad.
    For those of you with out Perfect Pass, you should be able to hold the boat speed with in ½ MPH of the target speed.
  2. Don’t clinch the throttle stick in the palm of your hand.
    Keeping a tight closed fist grip on the stick doesn’t allow good control to react to speed changes.
  3. Your eyes should constantly be checking three things; your rider, the boat speed, and what’s ahead of you.
    As a side note, I don’t think it’s good to have the radio blaring while driving, it generally hinders concentration toward your rider.
  4. When driving for someone that has never wake boarded before, tie the rope really short off the tower, about 30-40 feet.
    At that length, there is so much vertical pull from the rope that it almost pulls the wake boarder straight up out of the water. Keep the speed below 15 MPH until they can ride for a minute or so. Once they can ride with the board pointed straight toward the boat, and look comfortable, go ahead and let the rope out to 60 feet.
  5. Ease the rider out of the water with very little throttle.
    Wakeboard’s have so much surface area, that it takes very little throttle to get out of the water.
  6. Concentrate on driving straight lines.
    It’s easy to get in the habit of following the shallow curves of the shoreline, but driving even a slight curve will cause one side of the wake to curl over and make it harder for your rider to have consistency on landing difficult moves.
  7. Move passengers from one side of the boat to the other to make the wakes even.
    If one side of the wake is constantly curling over, more weight needs to be moved to that side of the boat to give both sides of the wake the same feel.
  8. In heavy traffic, pull over to the side of the lake or river and drop your skier.
    I think you have to be proactive when someone is tailgating your skier, waving your arms and yelling usually doesn’t get the attention of your average weekend Wally. Also, use the boat to block a fallen rider in the water.
  9. Idle back to the downed rider, it’s just as fast and doesn’t create big rollers from a power turn.
  10. Learn to throttle chop your rider.
    Whenever your wake boarder looks out of control in the air, pull back on the stick to put slack in the line. This technique will almost always save a hard fall, and is also very useful for teaching handle pass tricks.