Are you a beginner wakeboarder who is looking to buy a tow rope to practice wakeboarding? Or are you an experienced rider trying to find the best tow rope to improve your skills and perform more tricks? Whatever your skill level is, it is important to use the right kind of tow rope for an enjoyable wakeboarding experience.
Tow ropes can make a big difference in your overall wakeboarding journey. Choosing the right one is not that easy, as there are certain things to consider like rope length, wakeboard rope and handle, and a lot more. Since there are different kinds of tow ropes, you need to find one made specifically for wakeboarding.
Why Invest in a High-quality Tow Rope for Wakeboarding?
- The learning process will be easier with the right kind of tow rope
- It can help improve your wakeboarding skills
- You can perform more and advanced tricks
- Learning will be more fun and the overall experience will be more enjoyable
The Evolution of Wakeboard Rope
Using a rope is what sets wakeboarding from other boardsports like snowboarding and skateboarding. The cord used in wakeboarding and other watersports like waterskiing had evolved over the last 30 years.
The first ropes used in wakeboarding and water skiing are made from linen, cloth, or plastic. Riders learn how to ride wakeboards with just any rope that is available during those times. As plastics become more popular, the use of braided polypropylene had been in demand in the wakeboard and water ski industry.
As the sport grew popular, so did the development of the rope. Manufacturers realized that using Poly E can decrease the stretch. Being less stretchable, it gives riders a better ride experience behind the boat. The downside of the initial release of Poly E rope is that they are heavier and have a larger diameter.
Due to this realization, manufacturers thought of other ways on how they can further improve the quality of the wakeboard rope. This is when different materials had evolved and the introduction of Dyneema and Spectra to the public. The switch in the materials had greatly improved the performance and experience of wakeboarding. The no-stretch Spectra rope and Dyneema rope greatly reduced the drag on the cord, allowing riders to have better control of their movement both in the air and water.
Important Features to Consider For Wakeboard Ropes
Choosing a tow rope for wakeboarding is all about personal preference. However, if you are a beginner rider, that may not apply to you. Since you are still in the process of learning, you can’t know yet what will work for you best. Of course, it’s obvious that finding a high-quality one should be on top of your list when shopping for a tow rope. But aside from quality, there are still other things you need to consider.
Finding a tow rope specific for wakeboarding is important as there is a specific one for every water sport. You can’t use a tow rope meant for water ski for wakeboarding and vice versa. When choosing wakeboard tow ropes, you must think about three major things, the material, length, and handle.
The material used in a wakeboard tow rope plays a vital role in the rider’s performance. This is why it is important to get a tow rope meant for wakeboarding. A wakeboard rope has virtually no stretch, so finding a high-quality one will help you hone your skills and make you perform new tricks better.
There are several materials used in a wakeboard tow rope and depending on your personal preference and experience you can choose among the three below.
Zero Stretch Dyneema
Dyneema is a very durable material that is as strong as wire and outperforms steel. It is also stronger than other synthetic materials when it comes to bending fatigue and tension fatigue tests. A no-stretch Dyneema rope, apart from giving no stretch, has abrasion resistance, and strong UV resistance. It can also stand up to salt water.
Poly E or polyethylene has a low stretch construction. It has more elasticity compared to no stretch Dyneema. This type of material is more suitable for beginner wakeboarders and recreational riders. Since it has a slight elasticity, it can absorb shock as it cuts through the boat wake, which beginners may find beneficial.
Being a low-stretch material, it can increase its length to 2 to 3 percent on a typical riding load. An experienced rider may this material a hindrance to their performance, particularly when doing more advanced tricks. Out of the materials used in a wakeboard tow rope, Poly is the most affordable.
Among the three materials, Spectra is the strongest and the most expensive. It is ten times more powerful than steel and is ultra-lightweight. Wakeboard enthusiasts especially experienced riders prefer ropes made from Spectra due to its strength, zero stretch, durability, and its ability to float on water.
Wakeboard Rope Lengths
Getting the right length is crucial when wakeboarding. The rope lengths may vary depending on skill level, rider’s preference, the boat that will pull the rider, wake shape, wake size, and boat wake.
Generally, a wakeboarding rope ranges from 55 feet to 75 feet. A length close to 65 feet long is ideal for beginners. A shorter rope length places the rider closer to the boat. The closer you are, the narrower the wake is. This should allow you to learn more tricks and practice your turns without being too restricted to move.
Experienced riders prefer longer ropes so they can feel free to maneuver. The longer line you have the more speed you gain in the wake. Longer lines allow the rider to catch more air as they pop on the wake and it lets them spend more time in the air. Beginners can move on to a longer rope length as their experience and skill level increase. Finding the right wakeboard rope length will make your ride more comfortably and will allow you to perform tricks better.
Benefits of a Long Wakeboarding Rope
- It gives the rider more room to practice edging with minimal line tension.
- The longer the rope, the further apart the wakes are. This will allow riders to learn and practice boar control without minding the wake.
- A wakeboarder can move easily behind the boat when traveling sideways.
- The lateral movement offers slower speeds when using a longer rope.
- A longer rope will swing the rider back in the middle of the boat wake on a natural momentum.
- It allows the rider to center his attention in timing his jump better and focus on his technique.
- There will less turbulence when performing tricks such as ollies and surface turns.
Benefits of a Short Wakeboarding Rope
- A shorter wakeboard tow rope creates a narrower wake thus needing less height and speed when moving from one wake to the second wake.
- Because of narrower wakes, they get wider and bigger as the boat slows down.
- Due to the decreased speed in shorter rope, it reduces the impact of falling. Having this in mind will make a rider more confident in performing tricks.
- Suitable for beginners to learn how to execute wake-to-wake spins.
- The narrower wake is the perfect wake size for beginners to learn and take their first wake jump.
- As the riders improve their skill, they can easily learn how to touch down outside a wake.
Wakeboard handles also come in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles to support every wakeboarder’s needs. It may seem like a small part of the rope but it pays to invest in good a wakeboard handle. Wakeboarding handles are crucial because this is where the rider holds on to ride a wake.
Wakeboarding handles are specialized to make aerial and tricks easier to perform. The length, shape, weight, and diameter are some of the features to consider when choosing the right wakeboard handle. But of course, they should also be comfortable to hold and has a strong grip to prevent your hands from slipping even after hours of wakeboarding. Wakeboard handles tend to have a stamp with texture for better grip.
The length of wakeboard handles is usually 5 to 15 inches. Now, the length will depend on how big the rider’s hand is. Women and children should get a smaller handle because of their hand size. Men who have bigger hands obviously need a wider handle. The advantage of getting a wider handle is it will allow riders to perform tricks easier particularly when passing the handle behind the back.
The weight may not matter that much to beginner riders, however as they become more experienced it would be wiser to get a lighter wakeboard rope and handle. The lighter the handles are, the more expensive they get. This is because they are made of high-quality and expensive materials.
To check the weight, try getting one and find out how it feels on your hand. Getting the right weight will make wakeboarding comfortable even for prolonged periods.
Grip and Material
Just like with wakeboard tow ropes, handles are also made from various materials. They can be made from EVA, carbon fiber, and aluminum. The weight of the handle depends on the kind of material used. Wakeboard handles need to have a strong grip and at the same time provide comfort while wakeboarding.
Grips can be made of different materials, some use rubber, chamois, and a lot more. To increase the grip, most handles are stamped with texture.
The diameter of the handle also varies in size. Same with length, the size of the hand of the rider will determine the right diameter. If a lot of people will use it, best to choose something that is easy to hold for different hand sizes.
Tow Ropes for Other Watersports
As mentioned earlier, tow ropes used in different watersports vary. The materials, size, and shape differ for every sport. If you are a water sports enthusiast, you would know that the qualities you are looking for in a wakeboard rope will not be the same when you search for a ski rope. So, to help you out here are the different tow ropes you need for every kind of water activity.
Water Ski Ropes
A standard water ski rope is about 70 feet in length and can reach up to 75 feet when attached with a handle. They are normally made from polypropylene, like the Poly E material used in wakeboard ropes, it can be stretched to 2-3 percent on normal conditions.
A slight stretch is required for to allow water skiers to change their speed as they turn. Unless it’s a beginner’s rope, it will typically have 5,8, or 10 sections. As you improve your skills, the shorter length makes it more challenging.
Compared to wakeboard ropes, those for waterskiing need to be a bit stretchy to absorb shock as the rider crosses the wake. As a guide, it is good to remember that the more strands your rope has, the less elastic it is.
When it comes to waterski handles, they are typically between 11 to 13 inches. The comfort level will depend on how much EVA was used in the handle. Best to invest in a more expensive handle as they feel more comfortable than cheaper ones.
If you want to lengthen or shorten the rope from one attachment loop to the other, all you need to remember is if you want to ski further from the boat you need to add loops, take off the loops if you prefer to ski at a shorter distance.
Kneeboard ropes are closely similar to those for water skiing. There are those with a low stretch, sections, and other features that you need to look for in a ski rope. However, if you are a beginner, you might want to consider getting a kneeboard with a hydro hook. This hook will allow you to hook or attach the handle to the front part of the board. By doing this, you do not need to hold the handle.
A lot of kneeboard ropes have a small handle placed in the forepart of the main handle. You may want to consider wakeboard ropes if you are looking for a high-quality kneeboard rope. The standard length is 60 to 70 feet.
A wakesurf rope has a knotted design. This design allows wake surfers to position themselves in a sweet spot by pulling themselves near the boat to find the best spot when they hit the wake. Handles on these cords are smaller than those for skiing or wakeboarding and sometimes there is no handle. A foam pad or knot is commonly used as a handle for wakesurfing.
Those who are new to this sport may find a smaller handle to be safer when going at a slow speed. Compared to other watersports, the length on wakesurf ropes is shorter, usually less than 26 feet. This is to pull a wakesurfer slower. Remember the closer you get to the boat is where you’ll find the prime spot to hit the wake.
Tube ropes need to have less elasticity and should have a very high break strength. A tube rope is designed and should be used depending on the number of riders that are being pulled. Never use those that are not intended for your preferred size and number of people to be pulled.
Tube ropes should not exceed 65 feet and the minimum length is 50 feet. For quick and easy connection, the line must have a loop on the two ends and must never be attached to a boat harness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best rope length for wakeboarding?
The rope length will depend on your wakeboarding skill level. Beginner wakeboarders can start at 65 feet, intermediate riders will be comfortable with 65-75, and more advanced riders can go for 75 to 85 ft.
What size tow rope do I need?
It is recommended to choose one that has a strength of 2 to 2.5 times the weight you are going to pull.
Does wakeboard rope make a difference?
Yes, the wakeboard rope makes a big difference in terms of quality and performing tricks. The material used also differs from other water sports.
What is the difference between a wakeboard rope and a ski rope?
The main difference between them is that ski ropes have a slight stretch while the wakeboard rope has none at all.
Do all wakeboard ropes have UV light protection?
Not all but most wakeboard tow ropes have UV light protection, particularly those made from Dyneema material. Choosing a rope with strong UV resistance makes the material stronger and prevents tangling.
Do you now have the right wakeboard tow rope in mind? Choosing the right rope will define your whole wakeboarding experience. Wakeboard rope and handle are as important as choosing the rope materials used. Wakeboard ropes length will determine the speed of your ride whether you want slow speeds or you need more speed. Choosing a high-quality, ultra-lightweight, and no stretch rope will be beneficial for both beginners and advanced riders. The length will depend on your skill level and in executing tricks. Most importantly, the right rope will be different for every rider. In other words, it will all depend on the rider’s personal choice.