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Boat Driving Tips: Towing A Wakeboarder

Driving a ski boat is a big responsibility. Not only do you have to have care for the safety of your passengers, you have to have care for your rider as well as other boaters. Safety is always the first concern.

We spent some time with the Bush’s Watersports Park and got some great tips to share from the pros.

After safety comes the added pressure of providing the optimal experience for your rider. If you’ve ever had to ride behind a boat with a driver that is not used to pulling a wakeboarder or a skier, you know how frustrating it can be.

Along with the videos, we’d like to share some basic tips that will help you maximize the experience for your rider.

1. Safety First

I know we already said it, but we can’t emphasize this enough, so consider yourself told, again.

2. Consistent Speed

Try and maintain a desired speed for your rider. There is nothing more frustrating on a rider than a lack of a consistent speed. Believe it or not, this takes a lot more concentration than you might think. Any distractions can easily result in a speed fluctuation of a couple of miles per hour. This might not seem like a big delta when driving a car. But on the water a couple of miles per hour can change everything. There are so many factors that can go into speed that there is no set technique other than concentrating and adjusting. Some of these factors include wind, rider pull and water conditions.

If you’re not using cruise control (some boats have this) you should often be checking your speedometer and always have your hand on the throttle making the precise adjustments as necessary. With lots of practice it will become second nature to you. When your rider doesn’t notice what you’re doing and never notices any speed changes, you’ll know you’re rockin’.

3. Drive Straight

Riders like to get comfortable behind the boat and if their doing tricks, they need consistency. Drive as straight as possible for as long as possible and you’ll maximize the time a rider gets for actually performing rather than just hanging on for a pull. When its time to turn, make sharp turns and return the boat to the exact same path in the opposite direction as soon as possible to reduce the amount of rollers or waves. (see video)

4. Find Calm Water

This is pretty straightforward but can totally change the experience for everyone. If it’s not a calm day find a smaller bay or the lee side of an island where the wind is blocked. Also, find a part of the lake where there is little other boat traffic so that everyone is safe and there is less waves to deal with.

5. A Fast Start

Starting fast, or “getting the rider out of the hole” is a much better experience for everyone. It accomplishes many things. First, it gets the boat on plane quickly so you can see where you’re going. Second, it gives the rider more time for riding (and doing tricks). And finally, it causes less fatigue for your rider when you start quick.

6. Fallen Rider

This is a biggie that most beginner drivers get wrong. When a rider falls stop the boat immediately without turning. Once the boat has slowed right down and is no longer throwing any wake you can start your turn to head back to the rider. Turn the boat around slowly and idle back being careful not to throw any more waves in any direction. This keeps the water conditions perfect for the next pass. If you start your turn too quickly, before you slow down, you’ll send waves in all directions destroying the calm water for everyone.

There is much more to driving a boat (with a rider) than we’ve covered here, but hopefully we’ve either reminded you about what you’re already doing or have helped point you in the right direction.

If you’d like to get out on the water with the pros, visit Bush’s Watersports Park and learn from the best.

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