For those new to wake sports, getting started right is the key to continued success. Whether you or your kids are learning how to wakeboard or are learning how to wakesurf, there are a few simple rules and techniques that will have everyone looking like experienced boarders in no time.
Dylan Miller (DM): First off, they should always have a Coast Guard-approved vest. For wakeboarding, having bindings that fit properly is more important than board size. For wakesurfing, having a smaller, kid-specific board will help out younger riders.
Carro Djupsjö (CD): It is worth investing in a newer setup as technology has improved greatly in the last few years. There are many great beginner setups riders can get without breaking the bank. For wakeboard bindings, get one with open toes so people with different shoe sizes can share the same board.
DM: The technique for getting up on a surfboard is very similar to how you get up on a wakeboard. The main difference is getting your feet in the correct position. The rider should have their heels on the board with their toes facing straight up. Their heels should be close to the “heelside” of the board. This will allow the board to press up against the bottom of their feet when the boat starts to move. Other than that, the two most important things are keeping the knees bent and arms straight. This body position will help the rider relax and let the boat do the work.
DM: Carving should be the first skill a rider learns. If they want to continue to progress this will be the main building block. Being able to control the board while turning quickly and exploring the wave is a skill that will help when learning other tricks.
CD: Once a wakeboarder is comfortable carving, the next step is to learn how to jump the wake. Start by edging out wide on your toeside edge and then let your board slowly turn around and point towards the wake. Start your approach slow and as you get closer to the wake, lean back more on your heels to create speed and tension in your rope. When you hit the top of the wake, stand tall and extend your legs while still leaning back and holding that progressive edge through the top.
DM: The driver needs to make sure they are quick to react when the rider says they're ready. Hesitation at this point will make it more difficult. Carefully controlling the boat speed is the most important factor when teaching a youngster. Until they're more experienced, you should never exceed 13-17 mph so they don't have a painful fall that could potentially scare them. Avoid making aggressive throttle adjustments, which can throw them off balance.
CD: Great communication between the driver and the rider is key. Make sure you have good visibility of the rider and give them plenty of time to get ready to start. A very common mistake is for drivers to think it takes a lot more power and speed to pull a rider up so make sure you start new riders off slowly and smoothly.
DM: Avoid making sharp, unexpected turns and going too fast. Getting too close to other boats is not cool and is unsafe. Stay clear of areas where a slalom course is being used because they need flat water.
CD: One of the biggest courtesies you can extend to other wake boats is slowing down to idle speed when you pick up a fallen rider. Not only will this keep the water around you calm as you’re not throwing a huge wake into your fellow boaters' riding line but you will also save money on fuel. Be efficient at the boat ramp; make sure all your gear is loaded into the boat before you start backing it down the ramp. Be kind if someone is having trouble loading or unloading their boat.
In addition, the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) has a few tips of its own to avoid conflict. Avoid playing music at extreme volume. When possible, make runs in the middle of the lake to allow wakes time to dissipate before reaching shore. If the middle of the lake is rough, avoid making repeated passes in front of the same stretch of shoreline.
Carro Djupsjö is a six-time European wakeboarding Champion who splits her time between competing and free-riding. Determined to change the conversation about female athletes in wake sports, Carro works to get young girls more exposure to female riders to help fuel their aspirations.
Dylan Miller is a wake sports icon whose fearless creativity and individual style helped revolutionize the sport. You can catch him repping Heyday on our social media accounts and on tour in person with live demonstrations at dealer events across the U.S.