How To Setup Right Speed For Wakeboarding (Simple Guide!)

How To Setup Right Speed For Wakeboarding

I see you there, brimming with anticipation. It’s the age-old question for new and seasoned wakeboarders alike: “What’s the optimal speed for wakeboarding?” The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think, and it’s not about being a speed demon on the water. So, buckle up—or rather, strap on your board. We’re about to dive deep into wakeboarding speeds and why they matter.

You might think that the bigger your wake size, the better ride you will be able to make. Although a lot of riders will do anything to get their hands on a bigger wake so they can put more ballast bags for added weight, this isn’t the case especially for beginners. This is because a bigger wake size will only cause trouble rather than help.

That is why it is highly recommended to start using an empty boat and then adding weight later on. This is to ensure you already confident to clear the wake every time. It is always important to learn the basics first before going on for the “big” one.

You can start with an empty boat and a lot of people ask your passengers. You can decide your boat weight and the stock ballast location for additional weight. Start with a balanced number of people sitted in the boat and slowly ask them to shift from one seat to another. Let your passengers shift from left to right then from front to back. Do this until you are able to make a super clean wake.

If you have already determined where the ideal weight is distributed you can now ask your passengers to get off the boat. Then you can substitute their places by adding ballast bags or even old gym weights.

For advanced riders who want a bigger wake, they’d usually just add more weight from passengers instead of ballast bags on board the boat. Should they choose adding lead weights, they can do so by adding more ballast bags.

Recommended wakeboarding tow speed for boat driver

Recommended wakeboarding tow speed for boat driver

The towing speed applied on the boat will depend based on different factors. The first factor to consider is the wakeboarder’s ability. Second, you have to consider the speed capability of your boat. The ideal speed to tow a wakeboarder or smaller riders would be between 15 to 25mph.

Boat SpeedOptimal Rider WeightIdeal Rope Length
15-20 mph100-150 lbs55-65 ft
20-25 mph150-180 lbs65-75 ft
25-30 mph180-220 lbs75-85 ft
30+ mphAdvanced Riders85+ ft

Meanwhile faster speeds will help enable riders who want to learn new wake jumps tricks. When the speed falls below 21mph, a water skier tends to crumble after a wake gets hit. This is because it will be softer and cannot act as a ramp. As result, slower speed will only swallow water skiers when they try to make a jump.

Generally speaking, if you go slow, that will always equal to safety. On the contrary, if you do not accelerate, you will never experience how an accelerated board feels. Rewarding portions or wakeboarding are usually achieved at increased boat speed.

Meanwhile, you have to determine how slow or fast you want to go especially when you are among beginner wakeboarders. You can try around 12 to 15mph to allow you get comfortable especially when making a turn. When you’re already getting used to it, you can add 1mph each time you fall. The trick here is moderate distribution of speed while you are on board a wake or by using an internal ballast system.

On the other hand, an expert rider can be towed 23mph but not more than 25mph. This is when you see the team work of the wakeboarder and the driver especially during jumps at varying degrees.

Another thing that you have to consider are the right kinds of gears during your wakeboarding learning process. The wakeboard rope length and the rope itseld should be considered. It should be made from high-quality materials and should not stretch which is essential especially for beginners.

Advanced riders also need good quality longer rope length especially when making a wake jump. Do not compromise price for quality as it can be dangerous for the rider the moment the wakeboard rope snaps and cuts through the wake.

Different boat speed types for wakeboard users

Different boat speed types for wakeboard users

Learning to wakeboard does not mean hitting the beach and being towed on a 25mph boat speeds. Don’t rush the process, you can learn the balancing tricks first while on land. It’s like child’s play at the beginning because you will need your wakeboard (assuming you have one), with a taped cardboard on its bottom and ask someone to pull you across the grass using a tow rope.

Learning the basics of balancing while on land is an important skill you need to master so that you can stand and keep your balance while on water. This will also help you achieve a perfect wake experience. By doing this, you can familiarize with your boards’ unique shape which has sideways stance. 

When you are comfortable enough, try to practice on the beach, ride your board that edges off the shoreline. This is getting an exercise at the same time to build your core muscles that can help hold your limbs in uptight position when you finally do real wakeboarding. Correct position can help you adjust to your boards’ balance instead of fighting it. This can help a great deal when you are being towed on a speeding boat.

Tow Speed For Wakeboarding

The proper speed tow-away border is between 15 and 25 mph. When you go a little bit faster, the wake also gets firmer. This makes it easier for riders who want to try a jump in their boat wake. A slow jumping speed can lead to a rider getting swallowed and it also makes the wake steeper.

If you are crawling at a slow speed, then you are most likely going to get less line tension on your boat’s path. This is ideal especially when you’re using shorter ropes. But you have to remember, that you only tow a wakeboarder at a slow speed to make them feel comfortable. Once they are already at ease, take a longer rope and accelerate to get that nerve wrecking wakeboarding experience.

Just remember to pick up important concepts during the wakeboarding start. This includes being comfortable when turning and avoiding edges which can be very painful once you crash.

You can increase to about 18mph to 19 mph once you know how to maneuver different sides especially your toe side edge. Take note that this does not need to happen in a day. You can constantly practice until you are able to achieve what your wakeboarding requires. Make an effort to increase 1 mph whenever a rider falls from one wake.

However, you should also listen when riders want to go on very slow speed. But when they are up and ready, step a little rpm and give the speedometer a boost. A rider will be most likely ready to say goodbye to slow speeds when they start taking cards and try to jump. Slowly approach 21-23mph when a rider no longer crashes.

Advanced riders will go beyond 23mph and will most likely jump the wake consistently. They will also take the wake bigger enough which can help them get more air. This is in contrast to getting a riders board swallowed when taking off. Take note that every boat is different. That is why constant team work with the boat driver is a must.

Getting ready to wakeboard at slow speed

Getting ready to wakeboard at slow speed

Your level of ability place an important role when you want to go fast skimming on the water. The boat driver will be able to accelerate properly depending on your skill level. Newbies can wakeboard between 18mph to 20mph while children can do around 12mph.

This is an ideal pace in order to feel comfortable as well as developing balance especially when making wake turns. especiallt that varying rope length is used by different riders.

You can exhibit good posture skills while on board. It will help you not to wobble or be shaky that can lead to a painful crash. After your first ride, you can accelerate to 22mph to 23 mph as long as you feel safe and comfortable and once your ability level increased.

Ideal rope length measurements for wakeboarding

Ideal rope length measurements for wakeboarding

You might want to go straight doing new tricks when you’re wakeboarding. However, be sure you’ve put on enough weight in one boat before accelerating. A comfortable speed will always do the trick to wakeboard smoothly.

Check if you’ve properly set up your tow wakeboard rope length including using longer or short rope. Also, you need to determine if you want to go on slow speeds take on more speed. The right rope length will help you learn more wakeboarding tricks. In other words, if you’ve prepared well for the experience, then you’re all set.

Rope Length For Wakeboarding

The right wakeboard rope length is determined when a rider can make a clean turn at a given inches or degrees. If you can turn between 65 to 85 inches from a clean ramp and you can avoid a mushy water, then you are most likely good to go. Of course this will depend on your ability, the size of the wake, if you have a big wake or a small one, and the type of wakeboard rope you have.

Shorter rope length for beginners start from 65 to 75 feet. However, if you can manage to use a wakeboard rope lengths that are longer, then that will be a lot better. Meanwhile, intermediate riders use ropes that are 75 to 85 feet in length.

Take note that jumping in general would require you to land righ on the downside portion of your wake. If you continuously make landing flats, you will most likely feel pain on your knees that will make you bounce off the water.

A downhill transition similar to motorcross riders and snowboarders is also ideal for wakeboarders. Buckle up when landing using the ideal role length. This will guarantee that your landing will be gentle and on the wake’s downside.

Use rope lengths to your advantage. There are cheat guides available should you wish to try out new tricks kn your second wake. Leaving the rope out of length will also allow you to land flat every time.

You can pull the rope a few feet if you will you will fall short of landing. You can also pull the rope up to 10 feet when teaching people how to shorten a jump. You can also use the same strategy when you want to help people who are shy to come out of the water after making a crashing.

One thing’s for sure. It is important not to use a non-stretch rope. This is because it can snap back to your wake and snap. It can also cause you to fall off balance and can have you thrown in the air when jumping which can be a worst case scenario.

How to get a better ride experience

A speeding range of between 25mph to 30mph are usually taken by expert riders. This can be applied if the boat isn’t in shallow waters. It can be dangerous to increase speeding range when the water is shallow and rocks are present.

It can also cause accidenta to other wake boats. That is why keeping a reasonable pace range is very much ideal. Take note of the following for a better wakeboarding experience:

  1. Put on more boat weighting if you want to create larger waves. This is because the more waves would mean more displacement has been applied.
  2. Experiment in your rope length. There are many options in the market that will allow you to try new tricks.
  3. Your wakeboard behavior will be a good guide when your on a ride. Don’t get so preoccupied thinking about bigger waves or how hard a crash can be. Seize the moment and enjoy the ride be it at slower speeds or within the line length.

Remember that it is important to find the right wake shape balance and optimal speed to be able to move freely while on water.

Frequently Asked Questions about setting the right speed for wakeboarding

Frequently Asked Questions about setting the right speed for wakeboarding

How do you Drive for wakeboarding

Just like driving a car, there are essential driving skills a boat driver should learn especially when towing a wakeboarder on his boat. The rider and the driver should work like a team in order to have a good wakeboarding session.  As the boat driver, you should be familiar with the boating patterns for towing wakeboarders and be armed with the skills essential to have an enjoyable and safe ride.

Essential skills for wakeboarding:

  1. There are different wakeboarding right speed approaches given depending on the skills of the wakeboarder. You should know at what skill level is your rider so you can apply the appropriate boat acceleration for them.
  2. Learning the different drive patterns are very important in order to avoid accidents in the water.  Different drive patterns can be applied when the water condition is messed up and you can avoid fighting your own wake and rollers while driving the boat.
  3. Steady acceleration will help the wakeboarder up and skim the water. Running on a straight line if possible can create a good wake for your rider.
  4. You should be skilled enough to know what to do in case the wakeboarder falls from the ride.  Pulling the throttle and waiting for the waves to disperse should be the procedure to follow.
  5. Picking up a fallen wakeboarder from the water,   is also another  skill needed by a good boat drive. You should use the right drive pattern, put the boat at idle speed when picking up the rider.p

Patterns to Use when Towing a Wakeboarder:

  1. Running a Straight Line. As much as possible, let the boat go straight and keep it that way. By doing this your rider will have a consistent and clean ride. There will be less turning and rocking the boat. Do this as soon as the boat and the rider are planing the water. Find a spot in the horizon and go straight for it.
  2. Turning the Boat. Towing a rider straight can be an easy task for you, but turning the boat is another essential skill that you need to master as a boat driver. Turning the boat needs to be broad and start with a pre-turn in the opposite direction of your rider. It’s like an ellipse ride  and can produce two desirable results: First, with a wide turn  the rider is pulled  away from the wake and into the side where the calm waters are. Second, when you turn the boat and see the wave rollers you created, you can go through and break them so that your wakeboarder can cross it easily.
  3. Dumbbell shaped Course.  This means initially going straight and getting ready to turn 180 degrees to the side you want to go. It will result in a large wide arc. When you’re out of the turn ,  drive  back to the rollers you have made while slowing down. Then repeat the process of going straight and do the turn again.
  4. Wide Oval Course. To do this, drive the boat in one direction in a slight turn until you create an oval shape pattern. This pattern of driving should not be applied on beginner wakeboarders as these can completely mess up the water condition for you and your rider.

Is 90hp enough for wakeboarding?

Your boat’s engine is the most significant and costly part of your boat. Your engine can determine how well you will enjoy your boating experience.  Choosing the right engine and the horsepower it can provide is very important. Making a wrong choice on this propulsion package can be costly.  

When making an engine selection, the speed that you need is an important factor. Choosing the right sports boat with the right power will depend largely on the activities you plan for your boat. Are you going to use it for fishing?  Or are you more interested in purchasing a sports boat  for water skiing or wakeboarding?  These activities can require specific boats with the right features to maximize their purpose on the water.

A wakeboard boat has a specific identifying feature, that is the boats’ tower. This tower is used to pull the rope that launches the wakeboarder in the air and water. It also keeps the rope from going under the boat because the tower’s elevation keeps the rope away from the stern.

The tower can also function as the bearer of music as more boat companies include sound system ready circuitry across the tower.  Some boat owners can even install cameras on the tower to record the activities of the wakeboarders towed by their boat.

Water sports boat use for wakeboarding can vary in size. Large size boats are 23 to 25 feet in length. They can carry more passengers,  they have additional ballast capacity and are not sensitive to weight shifts or new tricks. There are boats that are 18 to 25 feet  in length with mounted platforms  that provide easy access to the water.  Mid size boats are 21-22 feet in length.

These boats can handle choppy conditions.  Small wakeboarding boat comes in 18 to 20 feet. They can perform quite in the water because of their weight and size.  They can only be sensitive to weight shifts especially when changing seats while cruising.

When towing a wakeboarder, the boat needs to speed up between 15 to 25 miles per hour.  Running on a consistent high speed can help the riders jump or learn more  wakeboarding tricks. Depending on your boat size, a minimum of 70 horsepower engine can pull a wakeboarder up and ski on the water.

But it is a lot better to use a 90hp engine that can pull an 18 feet boat with a wakeboarder behind.  There can be more adventures to do on a 90hp boat like trying on a new water sports since the boat is capable of speeding that much.

How fast should you tow a tube?

Water tubing has come a long way after it was discovered to be so much fun being towed behind a boat while riding a tube. In the beginning, it was simply lashing one end of the rope to the other end of the boat and pulling it at a certain speed that the fun part begins.  Nowadays tubing water sports has a unique niche to watersports like kneeboarding and water skiing.

In order to safely pull a tube behind a boat with passengers on it,  you have to ensure that the proper equipment is available for the passengers you will be towing. A life jacket is a must.

A tow rope and towable tube attached to the boat should be well inspected.  The spotter, who is the boat’s passenger, will be keeping an eye on the riders.  Both the spotter and passengers should be able to understand the safety hand signal use to communicate when on the water.

The speed of the boat pulling the tub varies depending on the tube passenger. Keep the speed between 8 to 12mph when towing kids. Remember that the younger the passenger, the lower the speed. When towing teenagers and adults, the boat can speed up to 15 to 20mph for added fun.

How do I get more air wakeboarding?

How do I get more air wakeboarding?

Mastering different wakeboarding techniques can be fun and at the same time can help you get the big air.  This happens when you “pop” off the wake.  Pop is created by loading the line and resisting water pressure as you ride the wake and standing tall when leaving the wake.

The most important equipment to catch serious air is also a seriously fast boat that can tow them at a speed of 18 to 22 mph. The rope used to tow the wakeboarder on one wake should be 65 to 80 feet long.  If possible the boat’s driver should go straight and hold a steady speed.

Before going for the big air, the rider should be able to comfortably ride the board and cross the wakes before going for the big air. This starting technique should be done in order to start learning the right way. Catching the air should be done in a timely manner.

To get the big mid air, the rider needs to get wide, with knees bent, slowly drift in from the outside while maintaining a strong body position. By holding edge against the boat, the rope should be tight enough when they reach the wake. Ride the wake while standing tall and push against the energy of the wake. Try to think of the wake pushing you up as oppose to jumping from the wake. And that’s how it’s done! 

A few more practice like this and you will be like a pro in no time.  You can enjoy this sport at whatever age you are and at whatever shape and size you may be.

Once the discovery has been made and the feel for that air has been achieved, it will hype you to do it again, and again.  You might fall on the water, get smacked for a bit while practicing but remember, its only water and it will be entirely different once you perfectly called landing.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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