For many, a wakeboard, a 2 person tube, and a pair of old combo skis are essentials on the boat that you pull out to give a try a few times each summer. To others, a wakeboard is a serious piece of equipment used to do incredible aerial tricks. Each user is on the complete other end of the spectrum but the reality is – there is no right or wrong as long as you are on the water with friends and family!
If you are the occasional recreational rider or a beginner wanting to try new things – your in a great spot! The great thing about wakeboarding is virtually anyone can get up and ride. Young and Old alike love the feel of riding – from a casual ride to learning tricks. Despite the day and age of $100k plus boats – don’t be fooled, you can wakeboard behind just about anything. Ask some pro’s or advanced riders what they first started to ride behind. If you already have that maxed out wakeboard boat – great – If not don’t worry ride what you have!
The same is true for boards – There is nothing wrong with a good entry level board from a good board shop! We love the Liquid Force Trip, the Ronix Vault, and the CWB Pure. These boards paired up with a good boot will give you plenty to get up and will not hold you back as you progress. They are also sold in combos with the boots so you save a good chunk of money – these combos will typically run under $350 – Not bad for several summers of riding!
Sizing – A lot of people want to buy a board that the entire family can use. Nothing wrong with sharing but you need a board and boots that fits you. A lot of people can get up on a big board and “ride”. The surface area does make it a little easier to get out of the water – BUT if a board is too big for the rider, it will be difficult to maneuver and certainly make it much harder to progress. If the riders are about the same size, you are ok. Most “open toe” boots also have a good range of size built in so people with about 3 different shoe sizes can use it. Again, before you drop $300 on an online store or at a big box sports store, go talk to a good pro shop and get the proper fit – You will be much happier and you wont spend more money!
Lets assume you get up with no problem and you can “jump the wake” – now what? A lot of riders learn to get up and then immediately start jumping the wake – usually heel side because it is easier. The reality is there is a progression to riding that will challenge you and ultimately make you better. Here is a quick look at some tricks to help you progress – you can look online for videos that may help you do these or ask for help at your proshop:
- Ollie or Bunny Hop – work on catching a little air out in flats or behind the boat. In short this is a push down on the back of the board with your rear foot causing you to launch the board up. The Ollie is a building block for things to come
- Board Slide - turn the board sideways and ride on the backside edge. You can also work to slide it on top of the wake.
- Ride Switch – most advanced riders do not learn to ride switch or opposite foot forward until much later. After your good at riding regular – start to get up the other way. This will help you advance through other tricks! It is hard to do but worth it – trust us!
- Surface 180 – slide the board around to ride switch. Practice out in the flats!
- Ollie 180 – swing out into the flats and catch a little air while swinging around to switch. Now you are on your way to doing a lot more --- any we haven’t even worried about a big air jump yet! Work on all of your 180s regular to switch and back again!
- 180 off the wake – so you have your 180s down – now try it off the wake. If you have practiced riding switch and all of your 180s – this should be easy
- One Wake Air – ok now you can ride comfortably regular and switch and you can do 180s. On to air! One thing to remember – speed doesn’t necessarily mean big air. A lot of people go way out into the flats and then scream across to the wake and then basically “skip” across the water to the other side. The key in getting good air is a nice turn into the wake and keeping the board on its edge. Try a slower turn where you feel the tension on the rope as you go into the wake. Good edge, pull on the rope, and legs straight up tall as you hit the wake – you will feel the boost!
- Clear both wakes – You have worked on getting good “pop” off the wake with a good edge – now start to add a little speed. Work your way out further before starting your turn and now carry a little more speed into the wake – Remember to keep that edge into the wake!
- Toe Side Jumps – Your now going big with your heel side jumps and impressing your friends. The Toe Side jump wont really impress your friends unless they know how difficult it really is. Toe Side is a weird feeling but it is the next big step in moving to the next level. Take it easy as you learn to come into the wake on your toe side – if you have learned to ride switch and do your 180s – this wont be that bad J
- Grabs – now that you are catching air – add some style with grabs. There are bunch of cool sounding grabs like Stalefish, Mute, and Indy. For an easy to use chart see below
- Half Cab – A Half Cab is essentially a 180 but with a little more air. Try it heel side to toe side or toe side to heel.
- Spins and Flips – Now that you have a solid trick list, you are ready for some of the advanced tricks including spins and flips. These include 360’s, Back Rolls, Front Rolls, and a bunch of others with cool names. These are advanced tricks and you should go out with experienced riders or better yet – take a few lessons.
In our opinion, just being on the water is more important that what you can do on the water. There is nothing wrong with going out for a casual ride – but if you want to advance your skills and push yourself to one of the most exciting sports on water – go for it. We hope this helps!