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Slowly but surely there’s been a revolution going on in the towable market, and increasingly the ride of choice doesn’t tether you to a board or skis with bindings, but offers freedom. It’s wakeskating, a sport that requires only a relatively inexpensive board, no fancy bindings, and yes, the most familiar of tow vehicles.
Yup, unlike a wakeboarder that desires a big wake to launch from, wakeskaters actually prefer rides like a personal watercraft. They’re maneuverable, which makes for quick pickups of a downed rider, don’t put up wakes that will rock manmade obstacles floating in the water that said rider may desire to slide or bonk, and best of all, they don’t suck down the summer’s gas budget by July 4th.
If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Wakeskating provides much of the same feeling as skateboarding, keeping your feet loose from the board to attempt tricks you could never imagine with feet placed firmly into bindings. Yet, wakeskating also leverages a lot of the same wakeboarding skills you may have already learned. Starts are similar, the towrope is familiar, and board control is accomplished with much the same technique. But instead of wheels and trucks, below you have a curved plank that can glide across the water’s surface.
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Intrigued? Here’s how to give wakeskating a shot this summer.
Getting out of the water and up riding on a wakeskate is essentially the same procedure as on a wakeboard. The obvious difference? Your feet aren’t locked into place. That means you must use a little of the force of the water to keep things secure at the start.
Start out in deep water, with the towrope handle in hand and the board perpendicular to your body at your feet. Floating on your back, lay your heels atop the board in a comfortable stance. Typically, about shoulder’s width apart works best. Next, pull in your knees into almost a sitting position, and straighten your arms. When you’re ready to go, signal the driver to gently apply the throttle, keeping those heels securely on the board. The water’s pressure will force the board against your feet, now making the rest of the process more like a wakeboard start.
After that brief initial slow roll, your driver should smoothly accelerate up to about 18 mph; beginners, or lighter riders, can get by at slower speeds. Don’t try to pull yourself up and out of the water. Instead, just remain in your knees bent crouch, and allow the PWC to pull you.
Maintain that sitting stance all the way out of the water, with your weight centered directly over the board. As you get pulled forward, your butt will naturally move forward toward your heels, leaving you almost in a squat. Once atop the water’s surface, stand up gradually, pivoting one foot forward toward your PWC, and rotating your body so that your hips are running parallel to the boat’s direction.
A good tip is to point your lead hip at the tow handle, or stern of your PWC; this will help keep your body in the appropriate sideways stance. Don’t look down at your feet. Instead, look toward the boat to best maintain your balance.
Step 3…And Beyond
Once you’re underway and in control, simply take some time to get used to the board. Like a wakeboard, wakeskates typically have fins, but much of the actual control of the board comes from edging. Practice alternately weighting your heels and toes to sink either your toeside or heelside edge, and note the response from the board. Once you’re confident, move on to venture outside the wake. Ultimately, you can bring a whole variety of street tricks to the water.
Looking for inspiration? Check out the Sea-Doo/Nike 6 “Doo It” videos on YouTube. The brand has been closely involved with wakeskating since the beginning, and instructional videos span the gamut from getting up to performing advanced tricks.
But above all, just have fun. You don’t have to be the waterlogged equivalent of Tony Hawk to enjoy wakeskating.
But then again, it certainly couldn’t hurt…
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Sea-Doo, Nike Wakeskate riders produce on-line videos
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