Can You Wakeboard Behind a Bowrider? (11 Things to Always Remember)

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If you own a bowrider, then you must’ve thought at some point about using it to have a little fun with watersports. There are a ton of different watersports that you can try out with a bowrider. But the question we’re asking today is “Can you wakeboard behind a bowrider?”

So, without further ado, Can You Wakeboard Behind a Bowrider?

Can You Wakeboard Behind a Bowrider?

An image showing a bowrider
Sideview Bowrider Boat in Gulf of Thailand with Fishing Boat and Another Bowrider in the Background

Here’s the good news: Wakeboarding can be achieved using almost any type of watercraft, including, center consoles, pontoon boats and, of course, bowriders. What you have to do to get started with it is just the equipment and basic knowledge.

So, the short answer to the question, “Can You Wakeboard Behind a Bowrider?” is yes, you can.

Now we have to admit upfront that a wake boat designed for wakeboarding will always deliver a superior wakeboarding experience compared to a bowrider. But if you’re not looking to compete with the professionals and just want to have some weekend fun with friends and family, a bowrider will be enough to do the trick.

What to Keep in Mind When Wakeboarding Behind a Bowrider?

Now that we’ve answered the question “Can you wakeboard behind a bowrider?”, and before you jump right into your bowrider and start using it for wakeboarding, we have to cover some basics that you have to keep in mind.

Everything that we’re going to mention here was determined after a lot of research and a whole lot of trial and error. So, we hope that you’ll find it very useful.

1.     Towing Point

You might be thinking that the low towing point used for pulling tubes would be good for wakeboarding. And while it is still a possibility, it’s not so ideal.

For the best wakeboarding experience, you’d want to go for a higher towing point. A higher towing point will pull you up when you’re on your board, allowing you to get out of the water faster. Even when you’re already on top of the water surface, you’ll want to maintain that position, ride the waves and do some tricks. A high towing point will make all of that easier.

Wake towers and high poles are available for purchase if you’re bowrider doesn’t include a high towing point and you want to make up for it.

You can install a high pole easily on the majority of boats. They’re great because they’re detachable. So, when you’re done with them, you can take them off and put them away. They are an inexpensive and easy solution to create a high towing point for wakeboarders.

When it comes to wake towers, they’ll be more expensive to buy and a bit trickier to set up. On the upside, they come with a load of other advantages. They allow you to add a wakeboard rack, lights, tower speakers, a bimini top among other things. Besides that, it also looks pretty cool on a boat.

The options we mentioned are all great picks that will only enhance your wakeboarding experience.

2.     Speed

This is a very critical variable that you have to control in order to maintain an enjoyable experience for the wakeboarder. The first thing you should do is start pretty slow in order to remove the slack off the line. Start gradually accelerating so that the wakeboarder reaches the top of the water surface. It’s very important that you keep the speed steady and accelerate gradually to prevent any mishaps.

For beginners, we recommend a speed between 16 and 20 MPH. For the more experienced wakeboarders, they’ll be in the 22 to 36 MPH range. As the driver of the boat, you have to know the speed in which the wakeboarder is comfortable and remain in its range. It’s essential to have good communication between the boat driver and the wakeboarder.

3.     Spotter

To maintain maximum safety for everyone, it’s very essential to have a spotter during the wakeboarder. A spotter is an observer dedicated to looking out for the person on the wakeboard. Yes, wakeboarding is fun and so is driving a boat. But in these situations, you have to always keep an eye out for your surroundings. But you can’t simultaneously pay attention to where you’re going and the wakeboarder behind you.

Some folks choose to add a rearview mirror to improve safety measures by allowing them to focus on their driving path and checking on the wakeboarder behind them once in a while. While this is a good addition, it cannot replace a designated observer.

What a designated observer will essentially do is transfer the information they get from the wakeboarder to the boat driver. Such information includes adjusting the speed, stopping and so on. The same goes for transferring information from the driver to the wakeboarder.

4.     Gear

It doesn’t whether you’re a professional or a beginner. Having the right equipment is always necessary. If you want to job to be done right then you need the right tools. And thus, for maximum enjoyment and adequate performance with the least amount of complications, you need proper wakeboarding gear.

  • A wakeboarding-designated helmet
  • Proper size wakeboarding boots
  • A practical, comfortable life vest that will keep you floating
  • A wakeboard with the adequate shape, length, and size for your preferences and level of experience
  • A wakeboard pull rope. It’s designed to float and have the least amount of stretch. It’ll be between 55 and 75ft, 65 would be good for beginners.

5.     Propeller

This is a very critical aspect. Some bowriders will have a forward drive or a jet drive propulsion system. But the majority will be an outdoor engine or a sterndrive. You must know that using these last two repulsion systems can be quite dangerous if they’re not handled properly.

You have to use a wakeboarding pulling rope that’s made to float to avoid it getting caught in the propeller. Also, you must never keep the engine running when a wakeboarder is near the boat or on the swimming platform.

When it comes to bowriders, you have to stick to rope sports. Don’t try to wake surf behind a bowrider or you’ll put yourself in danger to coming in contact with the meat grinder that is the propeller.

6.     Hand Signals

As we’ve mentioned before, communication is very important between the boat driver and the wakeboarder. Of course, communication can become rather difficult with the wind, the loud engine and potentially any loud music.

To fix this, there must be an established sign language between the driver and the wakeboarder that’ll help them communicate efficiently. You can use the standard hand signals or develop your own communication system. Just make sure that whatever method you choose will allow the wakeboarder to send and receive messages before getting in the water. This table can be quite helpful.

7.     Storage

If you’re new to the world of wakeboarding, then you should know that storing the wakeboard and all the related equipment when you’re not using them will take up a significant amount of space on your boat.

On most bowriders, you’ll find a sky compartment that’s large enough two wakeboards. But just in case your bowrider doesn’t come with this compartment, you’ll be pleased to know that there are other options. There are wakeboard racks that can be installed on your fishing rod holders, cleats or your boat tower if you have one.

Just make sure that the solution you choose stores away your wakeboarding equipment and prevents them from getting in the way.

8.     Shaping the Wave

As we’ve mentioned before, the bowrider isn’t the ideal vehicle for wakeboarding, and one of the reasons behind that is that the wake it generates isn’t all that great. Fortunately, you can somewhat improve the wake on which you ride. Here’s what you can do to fix it.

  • Add a wake shaper to the boat. It’s a device that’s installed on the side of the back of the boat that’s designed to give the wake a better shape.
  • You can add a ballast system that will help push the boat a bit deeper in the water to generate a bigger wake.
  • Trim your drive either up or down. After some experience and practice, you’ll be able to determine how to generate a better wake through trimming.
  • Have some friends jump into the boat and sit in the back to bring the boat deeper into the water to produce a better wake.

9.     Action Camera

Now, this is not an essential thing to have, but it definitely adds to the pleasure of wakeboarding. Having a camera that will capture every moment of the action happening can give you a lot of great memories to look back to, a good laugh with your friends and family and a good way to spot your wakeboarding flaws and work on them.

When it comes to the products available on the market, you’ll find a great variety of different cameras. So, if you don’t own one already, do some digging and look up the type of camera that’ll be suitable for your needs and preferences to record the exhilarating moments of wakeboarding.

10.  Choose the Right Wakeboard

If you don’t choose the appropriate wakeboarding board, you can go from being excited to try the sport all the way to absolutely hating it. Now if you own a bowrider, you’re most likely not trying to break into the wakeboarding competition and you’re just looking to have some fun at the weekends with friends and family.

Here we have for you a list of different wakeboards categorized by the weight of the wakeboarder. Remember that a longer board will always be easier to get on top of the water and use. If the board is going to be used by more than just one person, then get yourself the longest on based on the weight average of all the people that are going to use it.

Rider weight LBSRider weight kgBoard length CMBoard length inch

11.  Other Tips for Using Your Boat for Tow Sports

Having a specialized tow-sports boat means that you can do all sorts of activities without having second thoughts. But if your watercraft isn’t designed for this type of stuff, then you most likely won’t have a center-mounted pylon or a built-in ballast system to create big wakes. But, still, following a few tips, you can make water-sports behind your boat as fun as ever.

Nada Surf

If your boat doesn’t have a forward-facing sterndrive, a jet drive or an inboard engine, then don’t even think about surfing behind the boat. Surfing requires the surfer to get close to the boat, meaning the risk of being cut to shreds by the propeller.

Rope It In

Water-ski ropes would have a length of 75 feet, a beginner wakeboard rope will be in the 65 to 75 feet range and a tube rope will be between 50 and 60. For wakeboarding, a no-stretch rope is most preferable. The majority of water-skiers would like a bit of stretch in the rope they use. For a tube rope, make sure that the rating matches the weight capacity of the tube it’ll be towing.

As for the position, skiers like the rope attached to the pylon that should be close to the boat’s center. For wakeboarding, it’s better to have a high tow point. For tubing, the line should be close to the transom, off a low pylon or tow eye. Do not go for a high towing point.

A Light Touch

You must always increase speed gradually to not cause any accidents to the wake rider. When on plane, keep an 18 to 22 mph speed for wakeboarders and a 25 to 36 mph speed for slalom water skiing. As for beginners, try to keep the speed between 16 and 20 mph.

When the rider is on the wake, use your thumb and index finger to work the throttle and keep your elbow on an armrest to make light touches in order to find the ideal speed for the rider. You’ll have to account for the pull caused by the wake rider by adjusting the throttle and the wheel occasionally.

Rider Down

When a rider falls, go back to idle before going back to pick them up to avoid swamping them with a wake. Approach them at idle speed from a downwind side to avoid drifting or being blown on top of them. And when the rider attempts to board the boat, kill the engine even before they get close.

Conclusion: Can You Wakeboard Behind a Bowrider?

Wakeboarding is without a doubt one of the most amusing ways of passing the time on a bowrider. Start slow and take your time to get the hang of it. Never forget to follow the appropriate safety procedures and wear the safety gear. And remember to make some unforgettable memories and have fun with friends and family.


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