Rider Etiquette

This will give all you freeloading wakeboarders out there a heads up on how to not be “that guy.” You know which guy I’m talking about, the one that is always bugging you to go wakeboarding with you on your boat. Every week it’s, “When we going wakeboarding dude? How about this weekend?” Then, finally, you invite him out with you and he’s an even bigger idiot then you had thought!

First he can’t meet you at your house to help you load up because he has to get a haircut or something else of vital importance. Strike one! So you meet him at the water, but, of course, he’s 15 minutes late. Strike two! So he jumps into your boat, bringing with him a fine soil sample of sand, mud, whatever your local flavour is, and deposits it on your gel coat, then your upholstery and finally onto your carpet. Strike three! He’s already struck out, but let’s clear his slate and chalk that up to inexperience.

So now he is in your boat and he starts in on how great he is at wakeboarding and how close he is to landing his flip. He has no idea what kind of flip, but he claims to be the sickest “skurfer” around. I’m not trying to be a wakeboard snob here. I’m just saying, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t try to fake it. Let your riding stand for itself. Nobody cares how good or not good you are. Just have fun. This guy has now talked your ear off for ten minutes and has succeeded in annoying you to near tears, so you ask him if he wants to go first.

Here is where I will add a small piece of advice. If you are the guest, don’t ever ask to go first. Depending on whom you are with, some people like to be first in and when it’s their boat, it’s their call. Just relax and let them offer it to you and if they do, go right ahead. You can be excited to ride, but control your excitement so that you don’t step on anyone’s toes.

Now, when this geek finally does get in the water, he rides and rides and rides forever. Again, strike one! Take a shorter first run, especially if you go first. Keep in mind that everyone else wants to go and this day is not all about you.

Once the guy finishes his run, he gets in the boat and the excuses start coming. The water was rough. The board was too big. The wake is too small. I’ll stop right here. Don’t ever comment about the inadequacies of another man’s wake. That’s grounds for going to blows. I don’t think I need to mention that complaining about the driver is also a huge mistake! No one wants to spend his or her day off on the lake listening to someone gripe and complain. If it’s your boat, go right ahead. But when you’re a guest, you should definitely see the glass half full. Let me give you an example. Say you go out and have the worst run of your life. Of course there will be some frustration. It can be amusing to watch a rider flipping out when he can’t land something and he’s throwing out every four-letter word imaginable, but, please, for your sake and everyone with you, leave it in the water. When you get in the boat, it should be, “Man I suck, but it’s a beautiful day on the water!” Or here’s an even better one, “I’m sorry fellas. You have such a beautiful boat and I went and did all that ugly stuff behind it.” This might be a little over the top, but you get where I’m going.

Okay, we got through the day of riding and now its time to go home. Here is where most people ruin their chances of getting invited back, so pay very close attention. You get the boat out of the water and all of a sudden this guy gets busy again. He needs to get home so he can take a shower for his date tonight. He needs to be home to have dinner with his parents or some other reason why he cannot help you clean the boat. For me, this is a big one since I ride in saltwater and it is not just a quick wipe down of the boat. It is a full 30-minute ordeal and when it’s dark and cold, that’s no fun. So this guy takes off and gives you twenty bucks for fuel and acts like he is a saint when he probably drank close to that in your beverage of choice for the day.

I’m going to take this time to tell you how expensive it is to own your own boat. For those of you that do own a boat, you already know, but those who don’t, let me clue you in. Fuel is a huge expense, especially when you are weighting your boat. There are oil changes in the boat, maintenance and all kinds of other fun stuff. Stuff like bringing food or drinks down for the people you are riding with is also a good idea. For some people, the money isn’t a big deal and they won’t take it, but always offer. And if you don’t have the money, don’t ask to go. For other people, washing the boat is the most important thing. Either way, you should always offer to wash the boat and pay for fuel. If, for some reason, you do have to leave early, pitch in a little more for fuel.

Okay, what about bringing people with you? Don’t bring anyone unless the people who own the boat know about it ahead of time and have agreed to it. The worst thing I have ever experienced was this one time I was called by an acquaintance that has ridden with me a couple of times. Let’s call him Matt. Matt asked if I wanted to go ride, meaning behind my boat. I agreed and so my best friend, Matt, and myself went out. Matt met us at the water and when he got there he asked if I mind if his roommate rides with us. Well, his roommate was standing next to him, so what can I say except that I don’t mind. This afternoon session was only supposed to last for a couple of hours – three guys, a few sets each, no problem. It gets worse! The guy’s roommate gets in the boat and says, “Yeah, my girlfriend is meeting me down here, that’s cool if she gets a ride right?” I was shocked. Now I have two extra people and I even have to loan the guy and his girlfriend my gear. To make matters worse, they break almost every rule I outlined earlier. Each of the three people take two runs each and I am only able to take two runs myself, which wouldn’t be that bad if I wasn’t out there for six hours dragging around complete strangers. Of course, they don’t help wash the boat, but don’t worry, because between the three of them, they gave me a whole fifty rand.

There is always an exception to the rule about bringing uninvited guests. If you’re going out with your buddies and you want to bring along some hot single women, I don’t think you will get too many complaints. It’s even better when they don’t want to ride and they just want to lie out and get a tan.

Good “thirds” are hard to find. It’s easy to find any Joe that will come out and just ride. I don’t know about you, but paying and doing all that work for someone else to ride that doesn’t appreciate it is not my idea of a good time. Being a good third is not that complicated. Just figure out how you would want people to be if they were coming on your boat. Respect their time, effort, equipment and money. If you get this stuff squared away you will notice that instead of having to be the one trying to find a pull all the time, you will have people calling you trying to get you to come with them. Like I said, good thirds are hard to find and everyone needs one.

Alright, now it’s the moment of truth, so let’s go ride!