If you just started wakeboarding, chances are most of your focus is on the purchase of the board itself. However, you will notice that the wakeboard is just one element of the sport. The bindings, the rope, and the wakeboard tower all contribute to the wakeboarding experience. Here’s why you need a wakeboard tower and how to choose one:
How Does a Wakeboard Tower Work?
A wakeboard tower works by creating a higher tow point for the wakeboarding rider. The elevated tow line makes it easier for the rider to stay on the board and perform big air tricks. Think of a necklace swinging back and forth in an arch – more height gives you more chances of catching a wake and lifting up to the air.
Prior to towers, the wakeboard rope is connected to a ski pylon or an eye hook which creates negative angle. Instead of pulling the board upwards, the low tow point creates a downward pull, therefore causing the rider to dive in the water headfirst into the wake instead of riding it. In contrast, the tower’s elevation basically adds to the boats angle so that it’s easier to catch a wake, jump, and achieve improved lift. It’s also the safer alternative and when added to boats, this accessory can improve its value.
Benefits of Wakeboard Towers
A wakeboarding tower comes with many benefits, and not just on the quality of your jump wake. Here’s what a tower offers a rider:
Better Learning Platform
To start off, they’re ideal for beginners. The higher tow point creates an upward pull that makes wake surfing easier for a complete beginner. It gives them better balance and control over their movement – generally giving riders the chance to get used to the setup easier. This is especially true for people who did not come from other sports like water skis or skateboarding. It’s not surprising that all boats in wakeboarding parks come with these attachments.
More Advanced Tricks
You can use a wakeboard without a tower as a beginner but if you want to improve your skill level, you definitely need a wakeboard tower. This will keep you on the edge of the water line, stay on top of agitated water, jump higher, and generally just get more wakeboarding air time. Without a tower, advanced moves are near impossible if not more dangerous.
Aside from the improved tie off point, it can also be a safety feature as it gives riders a handhold for use. If the boat is going too fast, you can easily hold onto it for added balance. If you’re in the water, the attachment can be used as a rail to haul you off the sea.
Personalize the Boat
Of course, there’s also the fact that it helps make the boat more personal. You can install different aftermarket products to the tower such as a sound system or a series of lights that would make your boat more unique. Think of it as adding accessories to your car for a more personalized look. Some people use multicolored lights, add some flags onto the beam or for the practical ones – they use it to hang their clothes for drying.
Different Kinds of Wakeboard Towers
Your choice really depends on whether you already have a boat or not. This is because you would be matching it with the build of the vessel. Take a good look at your boat before deciding what to buy:
This type is created specifically for certain boat brands. If you own a boat, it’s typically a good idea to first look at towers that come from the same manufacturer. This starting point should give you an exact fit for your boat model. Some boats even come with these already attached. Note though that sometimes, it is the after-market towers that come with the additional features you’re looking for.
After Market Wakeboard Towers
After market towers are those that are made by a non-manufacturer. Sure, they may build towers for specific boat models, but they aren’t responsible for the manufacture of the boat itself. After market towers are often more flexible because they have a lot more options. You might be able to find ones that come with additional accessories or may be effortlessly matched with different add-ons.
Universal Wakeboard Towers
A universal wakeboard tower is an aftermarket type designed to fit all kinds of boats. The width can be adjusted so that it fits in all boat models and are generally made from the same materials as fixed-width boat towers. If installed properly, they can also be sturdy and provide the same advantages as a model-specific tower.
How to Choose One
Choosing a wakeboard tower has nothing to do with the wakeboard but everything to do with the boat. When buying an after market tower, you want to take note of the following:
Boat Beam Width
Locate the widest part of the boat. Grab a measuring tape and measure from the exterior part of the hull down to the opposite side. Make sure to keep the tape measure flat and away from any obstructions. You might need to have a friend hold the other line for you to make sure that you’re getting an accurate read.
Even if you’re buying a universal tower, you still need to take measurements because most universal towers have a minimum and maximum range.
The type of boat you’re using the tower on also matters. Specifically, you want to match the wakeboard tower with how the boat will be used. For example, a pontoon boat would require specific tower models to guarantee a good fit. Also consider how much weight the tower will add to the boat. Too much add-on weight can compromise its maximum speed. Note that for wakeboarding, the boat should be able to run at anywhere from 15 to 25 mph.
Look into the ability of the tower to provide additional shade. Your boat functions more than just a towing machine and for those times when you’re not using it for sports, you’d want sufficient shade for lounging. Other boats already come with a bimini and if that’s the case with yours, you need to be extra careful. Some wakeboard towers may not have an exact fit with a bimini.
Some wakeboard towers are collapsible – allowing you to take them off once you’re done using them. Others however are attached directly to the boat and therefore remains a permanent part of the ride. This type of tower frees you of the need to constantly remove the item after use. Of course, your choice of tower is completely a personal preference depending on how you would use the boat.
Another point to consider would be the height of the tower. Products today measure anywhere from 50 to 55 inches. You need a wakeboard tower to rise six to right feet from the deck of the boat, giving you sufficient pull for practically any more or trick. Also note that the height of the tower would be predict the need for different rope lengths. Of course, a higher tower would require a longer rope to maintain a high tow point.
Adding Wakeboard Racks
Board racks are a convenient attachment to your tower where the board can be stored. Think of bicycle racks, but for wakeboards. Although not essential, they can be convenient especially if there are multiple riders using the boat. Note though that racks need to fit the tower for seamless installation. Since even wakesurf boards come in different styles, the racks should fit the wakeboard you’re using. Hence, you have to work backward here – choose a wakeboard, find a tower that matches your boat, choose a rack that matches your wakeboard AND tower.
Finally, there’s the need to consider after-market accessories which can improve your wakeboard experience. This can be anything from speakers, LED lights, and mirrors. The last two are crucial to improve the safety of the sport – especially if you prefer to wakeboard at night time. The LED lights will let others easily spot you in the middle of the water. Wakeboard mirrors on the other hand can be useful in a cable park where multiple wakeboard-specific-boats are using the facilities.
Check the Park
A good advice when buying one is to browse through the park and see what others are using for their own rides. This should give you a good starting point and tell you exactly what would work best for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wakeboard without a tower?
Yes, you can wakeboard without a tower. However, wakeboarding without one might not be as satisfying because of the low attachment of the ropes. A wakeboard tower creates a higher rope attachment which provides more air for its user. In contrast, wakeboarding without a tower attached creates a negative angle that makes it more likely for you to face plant on the water. Beginners often start without the tower but as you advance, the boat you should have one attached to make way for more advanced riding styles.
Can you tube off a wakeboard tower?
For safety reasons, a wakeboard tower should never be used to tow people on a tube. You may see a boat pulling tubes on a tower but this doesn’t make it safe. The problem is not with the tower itself because most towers are capable of handling the strain. The issue is with the hull of the boat itself. With repeated pull tubes, you can easily see cracks on the hull of the boat which will eventually cause a large hole on the surface. The tower itself remains intact but the boat will be damaged.
What is the purpose of a wake tower?
The whole point of wake towers is to elevate the pull of the rope so you can benefit from the positive angle. With this attachment, wakesurf boards benefit from more air time – especially when performing tricks. Think of it as giving your wakeboard more ramp for a better skiing experience. Towers are often needed for most water sports such as water skiing.
How much does it cost to have a wakeboard tower installed?
A wakeboard tower can cost anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 USD, depending on the materials used for its installation. The typical materials used for towers are aluminum and steel. New boat models come prefit with a wakeboard tower while others come with an after-market attachment. The good news is that installing a wakeboard tower can actually add to the resale value of the boat.
Can any boat fit a wakeboard tower?
As long as the boat has been made in the last 50 years, it can be fit with a wakeboard tower. Some boat manufacturers actually build separate tower attachments that boat owners can buy if they want to fit one to their ride. These towers are model-specific and therefore easier to install. Universal tower brands are also available for those who can’t seem to find a specific tower for their brand.
How long does it take to install a wakeboard tower?
Proper installation of the wakeboard tower can be anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the tower itself. Note though that if you’re putting additional accessories – such as speakers or a bimini – then the process might take longer.
Are there any tower alternatives?
Yes. Before towers became a standard in the industry, wakeboarders use an extended pylon or a ski eye. Both work by creating a higher tie off point that offers the rider an elevated pull to counteract the downward angle. Some boats today still use a pylon system but if you want to jump higher and have more security with your advanced tricks, towers are the better option.
Can I use it for other water sports?
Wakeboarding is just one of the activities you can do with towers. Other enthusiasts also use this for water skiing, wakesurfing, and kneeboarding. Just take note that tubing is not part of those activities. Typically, you’ll find manufacturer guidelines on how to use the tower for wakeboarding and other sports.
Is there a special rope to be used?
There is no specific rope that needs to be used per tower. In fact, you can use whatever rope you want even without a tower. However, make sure you’re only using the kind specifically built for wakeboarding. The last thing you want is for the bindings to suddenly snap while you’re in the middle of catching a really good wake. Some riders use a ski rope for their tow line which is also possible.
Is the height of the user a factor?
The height of the person wakeboarding is often adjusted through the rope. This is because the arm reach of a person who’s 6″4 is vastly different from someone who has a height of 5″2. The rope can be lengthened or shortened depending on the user so that it’s just the right height for a comfortable lift that catches the wake exactly where you want it. The towers themselves don’t need to be adjusted.