Wakeboarding is an awful lot of fun, offering excitement and thrills without requiring as much skill to get started as water skiing. There are special boats designed for wakeboarding, but you may be wondering whether you can wakeboard using your bowrider.
Can You Wakeboard Behind A Bowrider?
You can wakeboard behind a bowrider just by attaching the tow rope to the stern, but you’ll have a lot more fun if you invest in accessories to elevate the tow rope to make it easier for the wakeboarder to get on a plane and accomplish some jumps.
If you’ve been dying to try out wakeboarding but you can’t invest the significant amount of money required to purchase a wake boat, you’ll be happy to learn that you can wakeboard behind your bowrider. Here are some tips to make it as safe and effective as possible to wakeboard behind your bowrider.
Wakeboarding Behind A Bowrider
Bowriders may not create as significant of a wake for the dramatic leaps and excitement of wakeboarding as a wake boat, but they are perfectly able to get you up on the board and having a lot of fun. In fact, if you’re just starting out with wakeboarding, you may find that wakeboarding behind a bowrider is a less intimidating experience since you don’t have to worry about hitting the wake when you don’t mean to and getting more air than you had intended.
As an added benefit, bowriders are already set up to make it easy for somebody to sit at the front of the boat and watch you, so making sure that you have a spotter is easier than for most other types of boats. This can be especially important when you’re starting out. You don’t want to wipe out and then watch the boat go off without you.
People can easily get distracted when they’re supposed to be watching you if they have to turn their head back to see you, but if they’re already positioned in the bow and looking towards the stern, it’s much easier for them to remain focused.
How To Wakeboard Behind A Bowrider
Where To Tow From
Most bowriders have an attachment point on the stern for towing. This attachment point is great for towing a dinghy or a tube, but it may not be as good for towing a wakeboard. The low attachment point tends to make the wakeboard sit lower in the water, which can make it harder for somebody to get up on the board, particularly if they are not extremely lightweight.
A low attachment point also makes it more challenging to keep the board on a plane once you’re going. Finally, having a line run low just over the water means that the line will cut the spray, which often increases the amount of water that ends up plowing into the wakeboarder’s face.
If you are just getting started and aren’t too worried about having a perfect ride, a low attachment point may not be too much of a concern for you. If you’re wakeboarding with kids who are lightweight enough to get up easily and who may not want to do lots of high jumps and don’t mind starting again if they lose their plane, this attachment point may be just fine for you.
However, if you want to wakeboard with adults and you want the opportunity to get some more air, you’ll probably want to find a higher attachment point. Most bowriders are not equipped with a high attachment point, but you can easily attach one to just about any bowrider:
High poles are relatively inexpensive and simple to attach and store. There’s no need to drill into a boat and they can be set up and collapsed in minutes. Many even come with a carrying case to make it convenient to bring them on and off the boat. High poles can be as high as 8 feet, giving you substantially more height for much better jumps and keeping you on a plane more easily.
The downside of a high pole is that the straps used to keep it sturdy and centered in the boat stretch across the boat, which can reduce comfort in the boat for the people riding. This can be especially problematic in a bowrider, since straps typically go on either side of the bow, cutting across the seating area. It won’t be as much of a problem if only one person wants to sit in the bow, but it can be problematic if you want to utilize the full seating in your bowrider.
Wakeboard towers cost considerably more than high poles, and they require a more permanent installation, but they offer a number of advantages, particularly for a bowrider. Wakeboard towers are a frame that is mounted to the hull of your bowrider. They elevate the tow point, usually about six feet, but they can serve many other purposes as well.
Features like tower speakers and lights can be attached to a wakeboard tower. They can even serve as a wakeboard rack to store your wakeboards when they aren’t in use. Perhaps of most advantage for a bowrider, wakeboard towers can be attached to a bimini, providing some shade to the people riiding in the bow.
Wakeboard towers look more attractive as well, appearing to be a permanent fixture on your boat rather than just being strapped on like a high pole. Some wakeboard towers are specifically made to go on certain boats, while others are universal with an adjustable width, locking joints, and mounting feet to make them work for just about any boat.
How Fast Should You Go?
Bowriders are often very efficient and speedy little boats. Putting the weight of the passengers in the bow can help them to get on a plane and stay on a plane more easily and at lower speeds. This can be a huge advantage in wakeboarding, since you need to go fast enough to get the wakeboarder up but don’t want to go faster than they can handle, especially at the beginning. Being able to maintain a plane at a lower speed means that you won’t consume as much gas while you are pulling a wakeboarder.
To get a wakeboarder up, you want to gradually increase the speed until the slack is removed from the line, then accelerate smoothly to get the wakeboarder up. It is extremely important not to accelerate until the slack is gone, since accelerating too quickly will jolt the board, typically pulling it out from underneath the wakeboarder. Once the wakeboarder is up, you’ll want to cruise between 16 and 20 miles per hour.
Going slower doesn’t allow as many jumps and it can create a rougher ride, but it also means that the wakeboarder will hit the water less hard when they inevitably fall off of the wakeboard. Once a wakeboarder is more experienced, averaging between 22 and 36 miles per hour is typically good.
Of course, the speed that you choose will also depend on conditions like the choppiness of the water and how much room you have to maneuver. It’s important to have hand signals worked out with the wakeboarder before you start towing so that they can let you know if they want you to go faster or slower.
What Other Gear Do You Need?
Whether you’re just starting out or you have experienced wakeboarding, there is some crucial gear that you need to wakeboard effectively. Assuming you already have a good attachment point for towing, here are the other essential aspects of gear that you’ll need:
- The wakeboard and boots. The wakeboard you choose should be the right length and width for your weight. If in doubt, go bigger. It’s best to start out with a larger, more buoyant wakeboard that is not as good for jumps until you get the hang of it. The boots should be the right size for your feet. If you want to get away with just one size, wearing booties can help you fill out a boot that is a bit too big for you.
- Pull rope. The rope is often an afterthought, but it shouldn’t be. Ropes that have stretch can be dangerous, and a rope that doesn’t float can make it nearly impossible order to pick it up again if it is dropped. Choose a rope between 55 and 75 feet that has no stretch or very minimal stretch and that floats.
- A life vest. It doesn’t matter how accomplished of a swimmer you are, you need to wear a life vest when you are wakeboarding. It is all too easy for you to hit your head or have the wind knocked out of you by hitting the board, which makes a life vest essential safety gear.
- A wakeboarding helmet. Head injuries are all too common when wakeboarding, and a head injury in the water can be a very serious issue, so choose a helmet designed for wakeboarding
Is A Spotter Necessary?
If you only have two people available but want to enjoy wakeboarding, you may wonder whether you really need a spotter. The truth is that while it’s possible to wakeboard without a spotter, it is much safer to have a spotter.
It is impossible to pay sufficient attention to the person who is wakeboarding and to where your boat is going at the same time. Trying to do both makes it more likely that you’ll miss a signal from the wakeboarder or fail to notice when they fall off or that you’ll run into something when you are looking behind you.
Thankfully, it shouldn’t be that hard for you to recruit somebody else to go wakeboarding with you. Being a spotter isn’t difficult. You just need to keep your eyes on the wakeboarder and communicate any signals they give you to the driver. This is especially simple in a bowrider since the spotter will already be facing the stern.
Have Fun Wakeboarding Behind Your Bowrider
A bowrider is a great boat for all kinds of things, from fishing to tubing, and with the right accessories, you can easily add wakeboarding to that repertoire. Invest in the right equipment and start out slow and safe, and you’ll likely love wakeboarding behind your bowrider.