Beginners can get a great adrenaline fix on their first go, without the need for hours of lessons beforehand, as long as they learn the basic technique and know the right tips to simplify their ride.
We bet that you'll be hooked from your first tow, so here are the basic tips, techniques and esssentials
If you want to learn wakeboarding or find out if its right for you, before you rent out all the equipment and a board, you can watch some of the great wakeboarding videos available online.
We bet that you'll be hooked from your first tow however ,so here are the basic tips, techniques and essentials that everyone having a go at beginner's wakeboarding needs to know.
Buying A Beginner's Wakeboard
When buying your first wakeboard, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
While spending a little more can often ensure better quality, you don't want to shell out a lot of money on a sport you're not sure you're going to stick with. There are many good quality beginner boards out there that wont break the bank, while having everything you need to get on your water feet for the first time.
Everyone has a different preference in regards to their board, but for your first purchase, keep it simple. The length of your wakeboard depends on your weight and height. Here's a handy chart to decide what length board you need.
Longer wakeboards are usually easier to learn on as they have a solid feel that will help to boost you off the wake. Longer boards are heavier however, which means that the weight in the air will cause you to work harder and will get tired faster, but also gives you more control. A long wakeboard will sit on top of the water nicely and move quickly through the water and make landings softer.
A beginner board should have a continuous rocker or a mellow three stage rocker. These will make the ride smoother, making it easier for a beginner to control the board, as well as helping to shoot you out further away from the wake at the start, creating an easier base from which to find your legs and your balance, for being towed.
Types Of Wakeboarding
It is possible to be towed by a boat or jet-ski using the wake to do tricks and surf/play on, this is how it all began, hence ‘wake’ boarding and can be practiced on lakes, the sea, rivers or any body of water with enough room for a fair tow. There are wakeboard and ski schools all over the UK that run beginner’s courses.
If you’re not lucky enough to know a boat owner or can’t afford to pay someone to tow you, overhead cable tows are the next best thing, and to some preferable. Cables have been developed from the technology and engineering behind drag lifts in ski resorts, they are cheaper to ride and more friendly to the environment.
There are two main forms of cable in the UK:
4/5 tower cables or full length cables – These are usually set up on a lake pulling riders around most commonly (in the UK) in an anti-clockwise direction at a continuous speed. Starting on the dock the cable operator will pass you a handle and off you go. Full cables can tow multiple riders at the same time so once you fall over, get your board off, swim to the edge and start again.
This is the cheapest way to wakeboard, it is super sociable but also something that is fun to do solo, most cable parks in the UK have a core bunch of regular riders that are all super keen and friendly, however if you have a spare hour and just want to hop on without hassle to land your next trick, full cable can be as anonymous as you want. Most wake-parks run beginners’ sessions too.
2 tower cables – These have become hugely popular over the last 5 years in the UK, especially for first time wakeboarders. Just two towers with one length of cable between, the towing handle is operated by a driver/instructor to go back and forth pulling the rider at variable speeds. There is only one rider at one time so when you fall, the handle will stop and wait for you. The surge in 2 tower cables in Europe recently is mainly due to the small space you need to operate… you can literally be taught in metres of water.
Ideal for everyone – pro snowboarder, non-swimmer, nervous wreck or just average Joe this is by far the safest and easiest way to learn.
Most 2 tower wakeparks in the UK have System 2.0 cables installed, most have at least one cable and many have beginner specific system 2.0 cables. Lagoon Watersports in Brighton as an example have 2 System 2.0 cables with obstacles and a beginners cable, they offer a good ‘learn to wake’ session.
Technique And Stance For Beginner's Wakeboarding
Once you've found out whether you're regular or goofy footed when wakeboarding. You need to find the easiest stance to attempt your first ride.
For beginners, the most stable stance on the wakeboard is to place your back binding at zero degrees and as far back on the board as possible, to give the most control through pressing against the rear fin.
For an easy start, sit back as if in a chair, with your knees between your elbows, while holding the rope and signal for the driver to start. While the boat accelerates, keep the edge of your board above the water and wait until your body is out of the water before straightening your legs.
Once you're standing, guide your leading foot to the front and put the majority of your weight on your back leg and the rear fin.
There are a few ways to make your first few times wakeboarding easier.
- Using a shorter rope for your first few rides will decrease the likelihood of falls, allowing you more time to find your legs.
- While you will feel like you want to, don’t pull on the rope. Pulling will cause your board to dip into the water and you to fall.
- Keep the rope low down on your body, resist the urge to bring it up to chest height.
- Make sure the boat is going the correct speed and the driver knows your ability level.
How To Turn
So you've got up and you're moving along, whats next? It's time to gain control of your board.
The most obvious way to stir may seem to be turning the board, however this is not the way to stay in control. To turn the board, concentrate on leaning into your toe edge and heel edge of the board while pulling the rope away from the boat.
Keep the movements fluid and try to carve through the water. If you feel the rope go slack or pull to hard, you'll lose balance and fall. Feeling how to handle the board and the wake will come with time. Practice, practice and practice some more!