10 Safety Tips for Wakesports Activities 

Wakesports are easy to do once you nail down the basics, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll likely want to show off by doing tricks. As you should, since that's where the real fun comes in!

Wakeboarding safety tips

While practice makes perfect and you can easily become an expert wakeboarder, water skier or wakesurfer, these wakesports are not without their dangers. Doing any kind of watersports safely usually requires a team effort on the part of the person being towed, the spotter(s), and the driver of the boat. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for safely practicing wakesports.

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Know Your Role on the Boat

Besides the driver of the boat, other people need to do their part to keep waterskiing or wakeboarding excursions safe. The captain needs to make sure the boat has all the necessary equipment, and should assign a couple of other people to help out: a spotter and somebody to handle the tow ropes. Also, everyone onboard needs to understand any hand signals designated for changing course, slowing down and turning. 

10 wakeports safety tips

Know Where You’re Going

Let your spotter and rider know where you’re headed. For wakesports, you want to keep a safe distance from shore or any nearby docks. On a large body of water, stay 500 feet away from any obstacles, while on a smaller lake, 200 feet should suffice. Be aware of where any pilings, debris or obstacles are located, and know where you might have to slow down for a no-wake zone.

Wakesporst safety tips wakeboarder

Know How to Tow

When you circle back to pick up a fallen rider, keep the rider on the driver’s side so you can spot them as you approach. Also, make sure your riders get ready to go on the inside of the boat, not on the swim platform. You don’t want the engine running while people are in a position where they could slip. Keep in mind too that ski boats leave a large wake, so be mindful of other vessels while you’re out there. 

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Know Your Riding Speeds

Know how fast to go for each type of rider. For water skiers, you generally want to ride in the 25-36 MPH range; between 18-22 MPH for wakeboarders; and between 11-14 MPH for towing wakesurfers

If you’re towing a tube, never tow it from a boat tower, because if the rider falls, the stress on the rope goes away, and the inflatable can nosedive and pull the tower down or make you lose control of the boat.

Wakesports safety tow tubes

Know Your Wake Sports Gear

Make sure you know what equipment is suitable for each type of watersport. For example, wakesurf ropes have a smaller handle and are shorter to position the rider deeper into the boat’s wake. Also, you never want your spotter wrapping a slack line around their arm. Make sure it’s clear of anyone in the boat. 

For towing inflatables, follow the manufacturer’s specifications on how many people can ride at a time. Inspect all of the gear, especially the tow ropes, for any signs of damage to prevent accidents from happening.

Wake sports safety tips tow ropes

Know Your Riders

Know each rider’s skill level before taking them for a ride. Big waves are great for experienced riders, but they can be harrowing for someone without experience. Make sure you respect how they want to ride, because there’s nothing funny about putting a rider in a bad position. When you’re ready to go, make sure your riders are ready, evenly positioned and have a good grip on the handles.

Wake sports safety tips towing tubes

Know Your Spotters

Make sure you and your spotter(s) are on the same page. The last thing you need is miscommunication when you’re picking up a rider or getting ready for launch.

Know the Laws

Different states have different laws on watersports, and you’ll want to know if there are any conflicting laws on separate bodies of water that are a few miles apart in the same state. 

Wear a Personal Flotation Device

You should always wear a PFD when participating in any watersport. Ski vests not only keep the rider afloat in the event of injury, but they also make it easier to spot the rider when it’s time to pick them up.

Wakesports safety tips PFD

Drive Carefully

When you’re driving the boat, you’re entrusted with the fun and safety of your riders. You need to stay focused and on the lookout for hazards and other issues you could be pulling your rider into, even if you have spotters. Keep the music volume down, stay sober and concentrate on what you’re doing at all times. When you cross wakes, slow down so your rider can cross safely.

Watersports safety tips tow tubing

Finally, if you’re towing more than one tube and they get spread out, slow down to pull them back together to avoid a violent collision.

 

 

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