Tips for safe wake boarding

Published 7:21 pm Monday, October 29, 2018

Wake boarding/wave boarding/wave surfing is very popular with young and old. Old water skiers find wake and wave boarding as much fun, yet easier on their bodies.

The tow rope’s function is the primary differentiator between wake boarding and wave boarding. The tow rope constantly pulls the wake boarder while a tow rope is only to get the wave boarder up and on a wake’s wave.

Wake and wave boards come in several configurations, each unique to wake or wave boarding. A wave board is typically a longer, more surfboard-like design, hence wave surfing. Materials and construction are also similar: light core with fiberglass outside.

I recommend researching the internet for points on choosing the right wake board or wave board plus rely on the advice of a local sports store. Reputable sports stores employ experienced or professional wake/wave boarders in that area because they don’t want an injured, hence unhappy novice. A boat store knows boats, not necessarily wake or paddle boards even though they sell them. Opt for knowledge through experience because you’ve done your research beforehand.

Wake boarding is fun and exhilarating for all ages, genders and experience levels. Still safety first whenever you’re on the water.

Imagine slamming the side of your head into a wall at 50 miles an hour. That can happen during tubing or wakeboarding in a fall. I strongly recommend wearing a helmet, especially when a beginner when you are more likely to fall and fall often. Wear a helmet with a closed ear because the water’s force can break an ear drum. When wakeboarding, you don’t need to hear, you can’t hear, therefore the reason behind hand signals and an observer.

Even experienced and professional wakeboarders wear a personal flotation device. Wear a PFD that turns the wearer face up and lifts their head out of the water should they become unconscious.

As in water skiing and tubing, have a spotter whose sole purpose is to watch for a down boarder or an accident. Know the correct hand signals and coordinate those signals between observer and boarder beforehand. Obey all boating markers, especially no wake and underwater hazards.

To create larger, therefore better, wakes tow boats often add weight. A word of caution for boat drivers, be aware of other boaters and your surroundings. These large wakes may swamp or tip other boats, cause injury and upend stand-up paddle boarders. Large waves also damage docks and the shore line. Always wake or wave board in open water. Enjoy wake and wave boarding safely!

This article is given courtesy of Biff Matthews and the Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron, America’s Boating Club.

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