Q. What’s the difference between a roll and a flip?
A. A roll is when the board goes end over end (toeside over heelside or heelside over toeside), whereas a flip is when the board goes tip over tail. The definition of a roll and a flip, in wakeboarding, is based on the motion of the board, not the rider. So what seems like a flip to a gymnast (the rider does a somersault-like move) is a roll to a wakeboarder as the board goes end-over-end (i.e. a backroll). And what seems like a cartwheel to a gymnast, is a flip to a wakeboarder as the board goes tip-over-tail (i.e. front flip).
Q. How do I get bigger air off the wake?
A. An important element to getting more air has a lot to do with edging all the way through the wake. A common problem is that as you approach the crest of the wake, most people ease up the pull and flatten out the board, that is the worst thing you could do and here’s why. By easing up on the pull, you take away most of the tension the rope has built up and significantly reduces the force generated that snaps you into the air. This is what is referred to as “loading the line”- building tension on the rope with the pull, your body, the board, everything! Then once that tensions releases, that force springs you higher and further to more of what you are looking for – BIG AIR! Next time you go out and try for bigger air, remember that a rider’s maximum speed should be at the TOP of the wake, not as you first make the cut or anytime in-between. The best approach is to start with a gradual turn into your carve, dig that edge in as you build up speed toward the wake, accelerate all the way through and hold on until you get lift-off. Don’t forget to spring off the top of the wake by extending your knees and straightening your legs “standing Tall”, this additional downward push on the board right before you leave the wake creates more lift and the kind of “pop” that generates better air. Might take some getting used to, but once you put all these together and work on the timing, you will be amazed!
Q. I keep seeing people say “Double-up ” and I am not quite sure what that is… Can someone describe it?
A. The double up is when the boat driver makes a wide turn and circles back around into the wake at a 90 degree angle. When the old wake meets the new wake, the wake becomes twice as large, thus the name double up. The rider should try to time the spot when the wakes meet and jump off that spot. It is a great way to get a lot of air and try new tricks.
Q. What’s a good boat speed for Wakeboarding??
A. Generally speaking, beginners start out at around 28-30 km/h. That’s a good speed to become familiar with the wakeboard while learning to control and maneuver it. This speed is also slow enough that you don’t experience much drag, yet fast enough for you to practice cutting over the wake and moving into surface 180’s and surface 360’s.
As you improve and feel more confident, you can speed up to anywhere between 33-38 km/h. Keep in mind, a lot of this is dictated by your individual size, the boat’s wake, rope length, and, of course, your comfort level.
Q. Do you recommend a good instructional video?
A. There are a number of ways to become a better rider and instructional videos are definitely one of the easier options. Other options you have would be to attend wakeboard lessons or even compete in local wakeboard tournaments. But instructional videos are a good way to work up to these other methods and can be done at your own pace and in the privacy of your own home. The greatest advantage is that you can watch the videos over and over until the tape wears out! Every time you watch them you will see new things and gain new concepts about riding that aren’t real obvious. These videos also cut down on how long it takes to learn certain tips and techniques that make advancing to the next level much more fun. An excellent online source for wakeboarding instructional videos is Just Push Play.
Q. Please explain a double up from a riders and drivers perspective?
A. 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!
Begin hitting double-ups by starting with a small approach. As your timing improves, you can take a larger approach by starting out wider. As the boat makes its final approach towards the rollers, edge out into the circle created by the boat’s path. Pick a trough to get into; beginners should follow the first trough to where the wake and rollers converge. It won’t give you the biggest potential air, but it will allow you to practice timing. As with everything else in wakeboarding, timing is key. More advanced riders should follow the second trough for optimum air. Just as you are propelled twice as high, it is twice as important to remember the basics of edging, handle control and body orientation when hitting the double-ups.
Q. I weigh xx pounds/kilograms and my skill level is xxx. What kind of board do you recommend?
A. There are many brands, models and sizes and shapes out there, the best advice is to try ride as many different boards as possible, size is relative to your weight – check the board manufacturers recommendations for your weight category (try our links page). Remember to always test ride a board before you make your purchase if possible. 75% of board selection comes down to personal preference.
Q. I have some bindings that are very hard to get in to. While I think it’s good for them to be tight to stay on during a hard fall, how can make them easier to get on without having to buy a larger size.
A. First, definitely use a binding lube or something else that is water soluble and bio-degradable. Don’t use anything with oil that may break down the rubber or not rinse out once you have your feet in. The bindings are designed to be snug. What you do is first dunk the board in the water to get the bindings wet, then squirt a little lube onto the rubber. You can work the soap around in the binding with your hand a bit if you want. It should make your feet slide in pretty easily.
Once your feet are in and you’re in the water, shake your feet around a bit to dispel the excess lube. You don’t want to slide out as easily as you got in. All bindings will loosen up after some use. They are tightest when they are new.
You know that the bindings are a little too tight if, after wearing them for a while, your feet become numb. If that’s the case, you should try loosening up the overlays or have you local shop do it. If they are still too tight, take them back and exchange them for a larger size. One of the great things about most bindings is that they come in a large variety of sizes.
Generally speaking, you don’t want your feet coming out except in a pretty hard fall. Similar to snow board bindings (which don’t release at all), it’s better to be in than out. You especially don’t want one foot coming out and the other staying in. That can lead to injuries. If this is happening, it usually means you’re putting more weight on one foot than the other. The foot that came out had less weight on it, so try to level your stance a bit.
Q. Has anyone heard of sanding the bottom of wakeboards? If so, what’s the reason, less slip?
A. The main area we know of that you might want to sand is where board meets fin. Reason?? The fins really make a difference for improving a boards tracking. With better constructed fins (like graphite instead of plastic), there is less of a chance for air to get trapped and cause the board to loosen in the water – in other words, cavitation is reduced significantly making for a smoother, more stable ride. So sanding the fin’s base (or the boards surface) to make a better, air-tight fit against your board, takes away any gap between where the board surface meets the fin where it is likely water can pass through and create unwanted air pockets.
Q. How should I adjust my bindings?
A. Beginners will place the bindings closer to the rear of the board in order to sink the tail fin deeper in the water for better control. As you improve with stability, balance and control, you can move the bindings closer to the center/front of the board making it easier for surface tricks, fakie, and even in landing bigger wake jumps. It really depends on the board and how it responds to you. As for the angle of the plate on the board- it should at least be somewhere comfortable, not pigeon-toed or duck-feet but what feels good for you.
Q. So many boards look the same, I bet they all ride alike.
A. That is definitely not true! Just because two boards look the same does not mean they all perform the same. You can generalize by saying bigger/fatter boards ride one way and smaller/thinner board ride another but within those two generic categories, there are a vast number of differences. For example, a few things to look for in a board might be what kind of pop does it get, does the board hold a nice hard/tight edge, does it land smoothly, is it easy to move around in the air for 180’s or 360’s, how does it feel riding fakie, what about surface tricks. These are just some things to think about while riding new boards.
Keep in mind, lots of design work and engineering goes into these boards by companies trying to figure out that unique and “perfect” combination for the many different styles and riders out there. With all the new boards available these days, finding one that’s right for you is definitely becoming easier. The hard part is narrowing the possibilities down to about three and taking them for a demo ride.
Q. Is there a better board for rougher water?
A. Well, no wakeboard is really “easy” to ride when it’s rough – the bigger ones may handle the waves better but we all prefer to do it when it’s smoothest and have the most fun when we’re not fighting off huge waves. If your in a place where mirror smooth water is rare, you can always try slower boat speeds.