Buying a Used Boat
Take along at least one person with knowledge and experience of the type of boat you’re interested in buying, preferably someone with a bit of mechanical experience.
Ask the seller for the boats records of services, work done on on trailer or other work that may have been done (fibreglassing, tower installation). Make sure the trailer is licenced in the name of the person selling you the boat so they can complete the Change of Ownership form at the traffic department. Note that when you buy a trailer it will have to pass a roadworthy test before it can be licenced into your name. Find out what is required for a boat trailer roadworthy by calling your nearest traffic department.
If you are buying a used boat from a dealership then ask them for a written warranty which notes down all the items it will cover, eg. trailer, engine, hull.
Towing another boat
Always use a suitable towing line and secure it to the proper cleats, eyes or bollards, tow at a safe speed (rather slower than faster) the towed boat will in most cases have minimal steering and no way of slowing momentum.
The Double Up
As addictive as any drug, the quest for bigger and bigger air consumes professional and amateur riders everywhere. First there were Skylons for increased lift, then Fat-Sacs came to the rescue to boost wake size, and now wakeboard-specific boats are taking over the market. But no technical innovation has even remotely touched the power of the double-up. Merely doubling back over your boat’s original wake has not only propelled riders 6-plus meters into the air, but it has also simultaneously put the sport of wakeboarding on the map. Despite how difficult these incredible maneuvers may look from shore, the double-up is easy to hit and just as easy to drive – with a little practice, of course!
Add throttle as you initiate your turns. This will keep the boat from sinking and slowing down. It is very important to maintain the correct speed when the rider hits the double-up. Accelerating while the rider is in the air can pull him out of the trick and increase the chances of injury. Deceleration during the double-up will cause the rider to land inside the wake.
Unlike slalom, the wakeboarding boat turn should be a wide, arcing circle. At the end of the turn, approach the oncoming rollers head-on. Different riders will prefer slightly different angles of approach to the double-up, but keep in mind that the boat should never cross at more than a 90-degree angle.
Co-existence, Don’t Be that Boat!!
Our sport is one which is forced to be interactive with other sports like fishing, rowing, etc. This interaction can be good because other people are exposed to how much fun wakeboarding is, but it can also be negative when people do not represent our sport in the correct manner. As the wakeboarder, no matter how big of a kook you may be, you only affect yourself. But in terms of the boat I will show how the actions of a few can affect the entire wakeboard community.
I will start with some common sense stuff that needs to be common sense for everyone. First off, have RESPECT! I don’t just mean between wakeboarders. This means with the local law whether it is the lifeguard, police, or rangers. Obey the rules that are set for whatever water on which you are riding. This means no double ups in the dead slow / no wake zones, along with many other seemingly meaningless infractions. Why? You may be asking. You never know when you are going to need “the man” on your team. Also, there is no need to be giving lip to any of these authority figures. Wakeboarders are already given the stereotype of being a bunch of punks and this is something that everyone can help to change. As more and more people fight for the use of water, the more important it has become for the wakeboard community to have allies instead of enemies.
I have been to a few meetings where they were deciding what they were going to do over the use of different water areas. I’ve found that having the support of the lifeguards / law enforcement / water rangers has been huge in ensuring that the water area I use is not taken by sailors, skiers. or even worse the Audubon Society (that is the bird lovers). This differs from area to area, but I know good water that we can ride on is very hard to find and the last thing we need is for areas that we already are using to be taken away. People are trying to limit our use of the water. There are half a dozen different groups that would love to see my riding area turned into their area.
Second, and probably the hardest for most of us, is respect for the water skiers. Let us be honest, without water skiing, there would be no wakeboarding. Water skiers. and wakeboarders have always regarded each other as the cousin they don’t like. This is similar to the relationship between snow skiers and snow boarders or surfers and boogie boarders. Again, there is no need for this tension to be there. Next time you are out on the lake and you are getting a glare from another boat, give them a smile and a wave. Take the first step to breaking down the wall. Let’s face it, we are all only a knee surgery or two away from going back to our roots and busting out the water ski! You may be reading this saying this will not be you, but trust me. After a year of painful rehab and not being able to do anything, water skiing starts looking a little more appealing. Again, why make an enemy that we have to fight against for water time when we could be making allies to ensure that we are able to both keep using the water.
I have seen that water skiers are starting to pick up some of our attitudes in their sport. They are starting to relax a little more. This is shown in the format of some of their grassroots tournaments. We may not be that keen on water skiing right now, but they are working at changing their sport as well. I know it is not as fun as wakeboarding, but it sure beats sitting on the shore.
So some of the basics are out of the way, what now? How about driving? There is nothing more aggravating than someone who can’t drive their R 100,000+ boat. It is comical sometimes to watch people try and put their boats on their trailer. You spend all that money on a boat you should at least learn how to put it on the trailer. This can be accomplished by practice or just by having someone who has some experience show you. If you do have someone show you, pay attention as well. It may be embarrassing to have to suck it up and admit to a friend that you can’t put your boat on the trailer, but nowhere near as embarrassing as showing everyone on the launch ramp that first weekend of the summer that you can’t drive your own boat.
How about driving a rider? This is something that has been corrected in many instances by speed control systems. In my opinion, these are one of the best features added to boats in the last few years. However, you would be amazed at how people can still mess this up.
Here are a few quick tips:
• Stay at a steady speed. Don’t juice a rider in his or her approach to the wake
• Go straight. Pick a spot on the horizon and drive to it. This will ensure a consistent wake for the rider. Don’t make a long continuous arc that will result in a wake that is big on one side and small on the other.
• When you circle around a fallen rider, SLOW DOWN. Don’t go making the power turns like you see in the James Bond movies. You send rollers across the whole lake when you make the fast turn around. Instead, bring the boat to a stop, then make a slow turn and return to your rider.
• Once the handle has reached the rider, throw the boat into reverse just a little. This will keep from ripping the rider’s arms out of their sockets as the rope passes them at 20 km/h. This will also reduce the chance of injury from wrapping the rope around an arm, leg, neck or other body part. if he is busy with something i.e. putting his feet back into the bindings go very slow to give them the time to finish and also to avoid giving them rope burn around the neck as you pull it with the boat.
• Finally, pay attention. This is simply common sense, but is still good to remind you.
Just like they say in driving school, “Be a defensive driver.” Try to stay far away from everyone. You’ll get better water and it is a lot safer. The lake can be a very scary thing on the summer weekends. You have a lot of people out driving their boats for the first time in a year. Assume they don’t see you or your rider, because they probably don’t. We could go into a whole article on boater safety but I will leave that to another time.
Finally, the part that I need to spend the least amount of time talking about is having fun. The number one reason our sport has grown at the shocking speed it has is because wakeboarders know how to have a good time. Stay safe and respectful, but at the same time you need to always be having fun. This is already rubbing off on the skiing industry. The more we go out there and have a blast on the water, the more people will be attracted to our sport. It’s not hard to get new people hooked on wakeboarding. I have seen it more than a few times where people will go out and ride for a day and have an awesome time and when I see them a month later they are telling me about the new wakeboard they bought or even the new boat they just picked up. So continue to help grow our sport by having fun.
For those of you that are finishing this article and are saying to yourself, “There is nothing here that I don’t already know,” then keep doing what you are doing. Hopefully everyone is saying that, but we all know that this is not the case because we all know someone that could use to read this. Maybe this will help keep our sport growing in the right direction. Continue having fun, while being respectful and safe out on the lake.
The Boat Driver
Nothing can ruin a beginner’s wakeboarding experience faster than a bad driver. Sure, everyone likes to blame the driver for their less-than-Byerly-esque performance, but it’s true, a driver can make or break you (literally). So let’s quickly review the basics:
1. Before pulling the rider up, slowly idle until the line is tight. This prevents the rider’s arms from being jerked off at the shoulder when there is slack in the line and the driver merrily floors the throttle.
2. Make sure the rider is ready, then accelerate to around 30 km/h. Everyone has their own funny little phrase they use to signal to the driver that they are ready, but make it clear to avoid undesirable results i.e. no sounds like go!
There is really no need for a first-time wakeboarder to be pulled at speeds in excess of 30 km/h unless you are a sadistic jerk and want to see your poor friend grip on to the handle for their dear life before flopping helplessly into the water or, worse yet, taking a nasty face plant that will surely have them doubting whether or not they want to continue this brutal sport.
3. Keep a straight line and a constant speed. Pick some sort of fixed object in the distance directly ahead of you and stay aimed at it. Some boats’ speedometers are less than accurate, so you may need to watch the RPM’s rather than relying on the speedo. Make minute adjustments to the speed by using your thumb and first two fingers on the throttle while resting your arm on the aptly named armrest. Don’t use your whole arm to adjust speed or you are likely to jump from 30 km/h to 40 km/h and back down to 20 km/h, throwing your rider into a state of panic and confusion.
4. When the rider falls, pull back on the throttle and turn around at idle speed. If you make the turn at regular speed, or even speed up in the turn, you will throw a huge roller down the lake that will most often swamp your rider once you catch up with it and will ruin the water for all other boarders.
Following these four basics will help all wakeboarders you pull, especially first-timers, immensely. Now that the driver knows his or her role, let’s get to the business of wakeboarding.
The Wake Boat!
Before you even try to be a wakeboarder, you need to modify your boat. Water skiers and wakeboarders have entirely different goals when it comes to wakes. Skiers, of course, want no wakes. Wakeboarders want maximum wakes. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll be if you give yourself a good wake.
I know what you’re thinking. You see the pros doing rolls and flips off a Sea-Doo wake – off no wake for that matter. That should prove you don’t need a big wake to do big moves, right? Wrong. It proves the pros don’t need a big wake. You want as big a wake as you can produce.
If you are going to be a serious wakeboarder, you’ll never take the weight out of your boat. It will always have the monster wake. However, there are other options to the jury-rigged wakeboard boat, if you’re willing to spend a few bucks. OK, a lot of bucks. Wakeboard-specific boats are designed for just that – wakeboarding. They have wake enhancement systems built in (Tigi TAPS, Malibu Wedge, Correct Craft LCS, MB Sports B-52), and most have extended pylon options. The Correct Craft Air Nautique has a flight control tower that is the largest, most stable extended pylon to date, and MasterCraft X-Stars come equipped with Barefoot International’s Fly High. But more important, all these boats have cranking stereo systems for long days on the water with your buddies, and the new ’98s have built-in coolers for those much-needed post-session beverages. Wakeboard-specific boats are the Rolls Royces of the wakeboard community. Have one and you’re in.
Almost any boat can be a good wakeboarding boat, but if you have a good tournament inboard you can make an especially good wakeboard boat. Ski boats have the ultimate power and handling – all you need is “wake-making matter.” Wake-making matter is weight. Most serious wakeboarders use a few giant bags of water that they generically refer to as Fat Sacs (which also happens to be a brand name). Two sacks, one on each side of the engine, is a good starting point. That will add about 600 pounds to your boat and at least a foot to your wake. If you find yourself just skipping across the wake like a stone in a Mayberry pond, you need a bigger wake.
The next key to getting air is using an extended pylon. The thing with most standard pylons is that they exist simply to hold your rope. Sure, slalom skiers use the pylon to provide a leverage point for their pulls, but wakeboarders don’t need that. They need to go up. Way up. The bigger the air, the better. So if you have the wake and you’re still not boosting those giant airs, try an extended pylon.
Most riders refer to these poles as Skylons (also another brand name). While water skiers aren’t going to be out busting crow mobe 5’s in the first month, if you really want to be a wakeboarder, you can at least get good air on your half-cabs. An extended pylon can do that for you by providing a dramatic upward pull with little to no effort on your part. It’ll give you extra float time to really pop that move and the appearance of hang-time you’re searching for, as well as an automatic acceptance level on the lake. Big wake plus skylon equal real wakeboarder.