Rope and Handle
The SECOND RULE in wakesurfing: Use the correct rope and handle. Since the wakesurfer can accelerate forward, they can get ahead of the handle. If they fall, and the rope is to long, or the handle is too wide, the rider can get tangled in the rope or handle and suffer serious injury. Do not use a water-ski/wakeboard handle. There are 2 basic styles of wakesurf handles.
Small handles: These handles are 6" wide. They are just big enough to hold with one hand, or one hand on top of the other.
Advantages: Easy to hold when starting. Easy to dangle from your finger
while practicing surf tricks.
Disadvantages: Hurts if you hit someone with it when tossing it back into the boat.
Knotted or woven ropes: The "handle" is just the rope with knots, or woven thickly, to give you something to hold on to.
Advantages: Does not hurt if it hits someone when thrown back into the boat.
Disadvantages: More difficult to hold onto when starting; requires more hand strength. Not as convenient to dangle from your finger while practicing.
The rope must not be too long. Never coil the rope in your hand. If you have too much slack in the rope, shorten it. If you fell and became tangled with the coil of rope, you could be seriously injured. A rope that is 8' to 9' long (measured from the transom of the boat to the handle) is about right. The rope should also be fat or have plastic tubing over it to minimize the chances of becoming tangled in it. Click here to see a long rope creating a hazard.
You can attach the rope to the tower.
Advantages: The upward pull makes it much easier to get up, especially for beginners. Easier to toss the rope to the fallen rider.
Disadvantages: Easier for someone in the boat to become tangled in the rope.
You can attach the rope to the pylon or transom.
Advantages: If attached to the pylon on a v-drive boat, or to the transom, there is little risk of anyone in the boat becoming tangled with the rope.
Disadvantages: Not as easy to get up, especially for beginners. Not as easy to get the rope to the fallen rider.
When wakesurfing, the goal is to let go of the handle and surf (Freeride). It is also fun to hold onto the handle and cut into and out of the wave (Lineride). When learning to freeride, or when learning new tricks, you may wish to hold the handle so that you can recover from a stall (when you lose the push of the wave). Click here to watch a video of proper use of a rope during practice.
There are 2 ways to toss the handle when you start to freeride.
You can toss it to the other side of the wave.
Advantages: You won't hit anyone in the boat with it.
Disadvantages: If it is not pulled into the boat, you could fall onto the rope.
You can toss it into the boat:
Advantages: You can't fall onto the rope.
Disadvantages: You may hit someone in the boat when you toss it. That is typically no big deal. The person you hit may even deserve it.
A beginner may wish to use a long rope, 50' to 70', just to get comfortable on the board before attempting to ride the wave. At this distance, there is no wave to push you, so getting tangle in the rope is not an issue.
Why does the surfer cross the wake?
When you end up on the wrong side of the wake, you need to "power" through the wake to get back to the other side. If you approach the wake slowly, you probably won't get back across and may just fall. To get back across, cut out first, develop speed and power and push through the wake. CLICK HERE to see the video example.