New to wakesurfing?

How to wakesurf for beginners - getting up and wakesurfing with no rope

Wakesurfing is a fun and safe sport as long as you heed this important warning - ONLY surf behind a specialist inboard towboat (like Centurion, MasterCraft, Malibu, Nautique, Tige, Supra, Moomba etc) - never, ever behind an outboard, I/O or stern drive. Don't be tempted by a prop guard. Coming into contact with a boat propeller can lead to loss of limb or life. Don't take the risk. And - always wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid - it could save your life and it will definitely save your energy for wake surfing not staying afloat!

Now watch getting up on a wakesurf board in these videos from Phase 5 and Boarders Magazine or read our step by step instructions for beginners below - we'll having you wake surfing with no rope in no time!

How to get up on a wakesurfer

If you're used to getting up on a wakeboard, wakeskate or ski(s), the principles are the same. Knees bent, arms straight. Let the boat pull you up. For a more detailed tutorial on how to get up, read on:

1. Regular or goofy? First, decide if you are left (regular) or right (goofy) foot forward. This will determine which side of the boat you will need to weight and that you will wakesurf.  When you get up on the wakesurf board you will want your body facing in towards the centre of the wake (the rooster tail) so right foot forward means surfing the right hand (starboard side) wake, left foot forward, the left hand (port side) wake.

2. Always wear a lifejacket. Get into the water with your board and the rope. The rope should be attached to the tower and we recommend using a proper wakesurf rope which is the right length and which you can use to pull yourself into the sweet spot if you need to (it's also a thicker rope so you can pull yourself in with it without burning).

3. Lie in the water facing the rear corner of the boat. Put your heels on the board close to the edge, a little more than shoulder width apart and let your toes point up to the sky. Foot position is important. Your front foot should, of course, be towards the front of the board. Your back foot should be near the back of the foot pad or on top of where the fins are. If you are a smaller person using a larger board you will probably find it easier to have your back foot right up to the end of the pad.

4. The rope should still be slack at this stage. Relax. Bend your knees up towards your chest. Put both hands on the handle, arms straight and between your legs.

Tip 3: how to get up on a wakesurfer
Tip 6: Instructions to get out of the water on wakesurfer

5. When you're in position, ask the driver to put the boat 'in gear' to put a little tension on the rope. As soon as you feel tension on the rope, ask the driver to go (say 'hit it'). The speed of pull up is much slower than in other wake sports.

6. As soon as you feel the tension on the line put some weight through your heels (push down) and this, combined with the pressure of the water, will cause the board to flip up to meet your feet. Keep your arms straight and knees bent and let the boat pull you (rock you) up onto the board.

7. As you come up onto the board and the board flattens onto the water, it will naturally come round so that the front faces the boat. Let your front hip come round with it it so that your body is facing towards the centre of the wake and gradually stand up.

Tip 8: Wakesurfing for beginners - let go with your back hand

8. If you haven't fallen in with surprise at getting up on your wakesurfer, get used to the feeling. Now try letting go of the rope with your back hand as this will give you a better body position. If your heels are very close to the edge of the board try gently crawling them with your toes slowly towards the centre of the board so you don't have all your weight on the edge of the board. You may also need to pull yourself a bit nearer to the boat to be in the 'sweet spot' - which is the area where you have plenty of push from the wave.

Tip 9: Control speed on a wakesurfer

9. Don't rush to let go of the handle. We all want to wakesurf with no rope but first, start practicing controlling the speed of your wake surfer with your weight. Weight on your front foot is your accelerator. Weight on your back foot is your brake - and these skills will be essential when you let go of the rope! And once you have this basic technique you'll definitely want to give it a go!

10. The next thing to practice is moving the board from side to side. In basic terms, weight forward over your toes will bring you in closer to the centre of the wake, weight on the heel side will take you further out from the wake. As you gain confidence, you'll find yourself able to carve the wake in this way. Once you get the feel of the wakesurf board and the wave, you may find that you want your feet a bit further apart (to give you more control over speed) or to get your feet more central over the length of the board (to have better side to side / carving control).

Wakesurfing with no rope

Finally, a couple of tips on the wakesurf rope. First, don't wrap it around your hand or wrist - if you fall in you may get dragged along and/or suffer rope burns. Secondly, the safest way to get rid of the rope is to gently throw it over to the other side of the wake and let your friends pull it in.

A few common tendencies and how to avoid them

Don't pull yourself up. Let the boat do the work - keep knees bent, arms straight and rock over onto the board. Pulling on the line will result in the board getting out from under you. So too will pushing your heels away rather than down - you want the board to pivot up to your feet not skid away.

Don't try to get up too quickly - and when you're on top of the board on the water don't try to stand up too quickly. Think about coming up into a squat on the board and then standing up.

Whilst you still have the rope, try to have the board running flat on the water, rather than leaning back onto the back edge which will cause you to carve out away from the push of the wake (like you might choose to do on a wakeboard or wakeskate).

If you have a beginner who is doing this, it can help if someone in the boat gently pulls them in with the rope so that they are behind the boat and then encourage them to let go with their back hand which will also help to overcome this problem.

When throwing in the rope, beginners have a tendency to move their weight around in the throw and this often puts them out of the sweet spot, particularly if you have a smaller boat. Try to throw without shifting your weight on the board. It's also important when you throw in the rope to concentrate on the speed of your board. Keep some weight on the front foot so that you don't just disappear off the back of the wake.

Driving tips for beginner wakesurfing

How to drive the boat for a beginner wakesurfer

The techniques for driving a boat for a beginner are, of course, the same as for advanced riders but we've written this section with specific driving tips for the needs of a beginner who isn't confident about getting up and staying up.

Firstly, ballast for the boat. Depending on the adjustability of your wake, try to give the beginner a longer rather than taller wave so they have a longer pocket or sweet spot in which to ride before they fall off the back of the wave. Push is all important so, if you have a huge wave you might not want to give a beginner everything but don't reduce the wave so much that they can't find the sweet spot.

If you have someone coaching a complete beginner from the back of the boat, it's useful to take your cues from them to get the rider out of the water as they will be better able to judge what's needed until the rider gains confidence.

Once the beginner is in position (see above), put the boat in gear and very gently feel the tension on the rope. Don't leave the beginner in this position too long. If they are holding the right position start to accelerate gently until they are upright. If not, you will probably need to abort and let them get back into position. 

Typical surf speed is in the range of 8 - 12mph, depending on your boat, ballast, number of people and conditions. You may need to adjust the speed from rider to rider. When you're at the right speed, you should see a good clean wave with little or no white water in the sweet spot. Boats vary greatly in their wake adjustability and quality but a modern boat with a wakesurf system should give you a very clean wake which you can adjust in terms of height and length according to rider preference.

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