Learning to wakeboard should be a blast, but without good instruction, it can be frustrating—and even occasionally painful. To shorten your wakeboard learning-curve, we turned to top professional rider Cobe Mikacich, who gave us tips on everything from setting up your board to landing that first flip.
- Set up your board with your bindings shoulder-width apart or wider, and "duck" your binding stance slightly so that each boot points outward at a 9-degree angle. This will give you a solid foundation, and prepare you for the day when you'll ride with either foot forward.
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest. Most pro riders choose neoprene vests that, while they're more costly, are much more comfortable and form-fitting.
- Get a good, non-stretch tow rope about 65- to 75-feet long. Take-off loops will allow you to shorten or lengthen the rope to find the best length for your boat wake and personal style.
- Take a smooth, progressive start out of the water. There's no need to hammer the throttle. Wakeboards have much more surface area than traditional water skis, and will plane more easily.
- Keep the boat speed between 18 and 21 mph, depending on your rider's skill level and comfort zone. Also, designate one passenger to act as a spotter to alert you when the rider falls or requests a speed change.
- Pay attention to speed. Try to keep the throttle as steady as possible, and give your rider the best pull by driving in straight lines.
- Don't try to haul yourself up and out of the water. Instead, let the boat pull you.
- Be patient. Keep your arms straight, your knees bent, and let the board come underneath your body, so that your body can easily ride above it.
Jumping the Wake
- Starting off about 20 degrees outside of the wake, roll out of your turn into an easy, progressive edge. That means you'll want to apply more pressure from your heels and edge the closer you get to the wake.
- Keep your legs and body rigid, so that they don't absorb the wake's energy. There's no need to jump like you would in basketball; just keep your legs rigid and tall so that you get kicked off the wake.
- Remember to hold the handle down near your waistline. This will help you keep your equilibrium, along with a straight axis.
- Edge all the way up through the wake, pointing the board at your landing spot (typically the "downside" of the second wake). Experiment with different rope lengths to find the best length for allowing you to make it to that second wake.
Learning to Spin
- Wait for the peak of the jump before you start spinning. The board should be completely off the water before you start your rotation.
- Keep the handle at waist level. That will help you get a clean vertical pop.
- Be patient. If your board is still on the water when you start to throw the spin, you'll get pulled off axis and fall out the front.
Your First Flip
- Edge all the way up through the wake. You want to edge the nose of the board directly into the air, pointing away from the boat. From the boat's perspective, you should see the top of the board going right up into the sky.
- Golden rules? Progressive edge, edging all the way up the wake, not leaving the wake too early, and keeping the handle around your waistline.
- Remember — the taller you leave the wake, the taller you're going to land. Pushing your hips up toward the handle will help you keep your takeoffs consistent.
- Lead the rotation with your head. Where your head goes, your body will follow.
- Spot your landing early, and use your legs as your shock absorbers. Get "soft" to prepare to land on the water by bending your knees.
You will fall—you can count on that when you're learning any new wakeboarding trick. But if you follow the guidelines here, you'll fall less, learn faster and have a lot more fun in the process.