Wakeboarding is a lot of fun and may be one of the most exciting things you can do with minimal experience in just about any powerboat. However, you may have been told that you need a tower to wakeboard effectively.
You can wakeboard without a tower, although you may find it more challenging to get up on the board and stay on a plane, you won’t be able to get as much air on jumps, and you may be bothered by the amount of spray in your face while wakeboarding.
Here’s what you need to know about wakeboarding with or without a tower, as well as an alternative to using a tower to raise your attachment point.
Potential Problems Of Wakeboarding Without A Tower
While it is certainly possible to wakeboard without a tower, it comes with some inherent difficulties. Many people start out wakeboarding without a tower, but they often decide to invest in a tower fairly quickly. Here are a few of the reasons why wakeboarding without a tower is more challenging:
It’s Harder To Get Up
A tower tends to pull your wakeboard upwards, making it much easier to get up on the board when you’re starting. By contrast, attaching the tow line directly to the back of your boat tends to put a slight downward pressure on the board, which makes it much harder to get on a plane.
It Makes Jumps More Difficult
One of the most fun aspects of wakeboarding is being able to get some air. With a tower, all you have to do is hit a wake at a good pace, and you’ll find yourself flying. However, without a tower, the tendency is for the line to pull the bow down, which makes it nearly impossible to accomplish a decent jump even if you’re moving at a good clip and hit a good-sized wave. In fact, you may be more likely to plow through the wave and get knocked down than you are to have a great jump.
It Increases Spray
When the wakeboard line goes directly from your hands to the back of the boat, it’s more likely to cut through the chop and send spray up into your face. You’ll probably find that you get plenty of spray in the face while wakeboarding without this increased tendency caused by not having a tower.
It Makes Faceplants More Likely
When you’re not using a tower, you’re holding the line for your wakeboard at a higher distance than the attachment point on the boat. That means that continuous downward pressure is being applied to the board.
You’ll feel this pressure the entire time that you are wakeboarding, but it especially comes into play when you are shifting positions on the wakeboard. It is much more likely for you to be pulled down and faceplant either on your board or on the water when you are not using a tower.
How To Determine Whether Or Not You Need A Wakeboard Tower
|You may need a wakeboard tower if:||You probably don’t need a wakeboard tower if:|
|You have a difficult time getting up on a wakeboard or staying up on a plane when wakeboarding||You have no trouble getting up on your wakeboard. This is typically most true for very light people or children.|
|You are disappointed by the amount of air you can get in jumps regardless of your speed or the wake that you hit||You are happy with the amount of air that you can get on jumps and would be frightened by going much higher|
|You find that you often face plant or fall off the wakeboard and into the water when you are readjusting your footing||You don’t have much trouble staying on your board, even when you adjust your feet|
|Yyou are bothered by the amount of spray that comes into your face when your wakeboarding||You don’t find the spray bothersome when you are wakeboarding|
|You don’t want to deal with attaching and detaching a pylon every time you go wakeboarding||You don’t mind attaching and detaching a pylon or tend to wakeboard from a variety of different boats where having a portable attachment point is convenient|
|You wakeboard a lot and would like to improve your wakeboarding tricks and scale||You use your boat for tubing or kneeboarding more often than you use it for wakeboarding|
|You would like other accessories attached to a tower, like lights, speakers, or a bimini||You are happy with your boat as it is and don’t want any additional features|
|You think it would be convenient for you to have more to hold onto when you are standing up in your boat||You don’t want anything impairing the open design of your boat when you are fishing or doing other activities|
How To Add More Height Without A Tower
Towers for wakeboarding can be fairly expensive. They are also fairly difficult to attach and detach, so if you don’t want a permanent tower on your boat, they can be a frustrating addition to your routine when you are getting ready to wakeboard. Thankfully, there is an alternative to using a wakeboard tower.
An extended pylon is a pole that is attached to your boat using straps. It can increase the height that the wakeboard is towed from but is very easy to attach and detach. It is also considerably less expensive than using a wakeboard tower.
One-piece poles are typically very inexpensive, but they are more difficult to store. Two-piece poles usually collapse into an easily transportable case so that you can bring it on and off your boat and even take it with you with whatever boat you’re using.
Disadvantages Of Extended Pylons
- Often not as sturdy as wakeboard towers, so you may feel some flex when you are wakeboarding
- May need to be regularly adjusted as you are wakeboarding, since the straps may loosen and the attachment points slip
- Should not be left up permanently, so needs to be attached and detached everytime you go wakeboarding
- Only functional as a wakeboarding attachment weight, without the dual purpose use of a tower.
- Have a flimsy, add-on appearance that may detract from the look of your boat
Should You Invest In A Wakeboard Tower?
If you enjoy wakeboarding and have your own boat, it may be well worth putting some money into a wakeboard tower. Wakeboard towers vary from around $400 to as much as $3000, depending on the model you choose and the accessories that go with it.
They are not extremely difficult to install, but it’s certainly not something that you’re going to want to do every time you take the boat in and out. On the upside, wakeboard towers look like a permanent fixture on your boat and do not detract from its appearance. They can also be used for a number of different functions besides just an attachment point for your wakeboard.
Advantages Of A Wakeboard Tower
- Support beam on your boat. A wakeboard tower gives you something to hold on to while you’re moving around on your boat, which can be a huge advantage in boats that otherwise do not have many handholds.
- Store your equipment. A wakeboard tower can enable you to store wakeboards, water skis, and other equipment on top of the tower so that they are out of your way when you aren’t using them.
- Install a bimini. A wakeboard tower can be a frame for a bimini to provide shade, which is a huge advantage in open boats that do not otherwise come with opportunities for shade.
- Install lights. A wakeboard tower is the perfect frame for lights to allow you to see where you’re going and make you visible to other boats, so if you want to go on a night cruise or find yourself coming in late after a day of wakeboarding, you’ll be able to navigate safely.
- Add speakers. A wakeboard tower is the perfect place to install speakers so they won’t be in your way and can offer surround sound, giving you a lot more fun on your wakeboarding venture
Do Wakeboard Towers Work For Other Water Sports?
Wakeboard towers are effective for most water sports in which you want to have a higher attachment point. They work great for wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and water skiing. Keep in mind that when kneeboarding, you have a lower attachment point from your hands to the wakeboard tower, so being towed from the same height as you wakeboard can give you some incredible jumps, but can also be a bit scary if you are not prepared for them.
You should never tube behind a wakeboard tower. Tubes put a lot more pressure on the boat than a wakeboard, kneeboard, or skis, which can cause the attachment point for the wakeboard tower to rip out the fiberglass. It could even put a hole in your boat where the tower attaches. Passengers on the boat could be injured when the wakeboard tower falls.
Enjoy Wakeboarding, With Or Without A Tower
Hardcore wakeboarding enthusiasts will likely tell you that there is no point in wakeboarding without a tower since a tower offers so many benefits to your wakeboard experience. However, it is perfectly possible to wakeboard without a tower.
Some people find that they have a great time even when wakeboarding with a pylon or a low attachment point directly from the stern. If you only wakeboard casually or if very light people or children do most of the wakeboarding, a tower may not be necessary for you.