While we all love to practise our favourite brand of watersport, there is certainly a right way and a wrong way of going about it. Summer is fast approaching and soon the waterways will be filled with wakeboarders, skiers and tubers all looking to get their fair share of fun – don’t let yours be ruined by not heeding these few helpful tips.
1. Be Wise, Familiarise
Most boaters have their favourite spots and return there every summer. They’ve gotten to know all the potential perils and challenges that their favourite lake, dam or lagoon might present and know to avoid them. However, if you’re new to a body of water it’s important to familiarise yourself with it before towing a board or tube behind your boat. In fact, even if you return to a regular spot, it’s imperative you make sure it hasn’t been altered by tides, winds or currents. Sandbars could have shifted or there could be submerged obstructions such as logs that weren’t there before. So, once you’ve arrived at the dam and have launched your boat successfully, identify the line in which you want to tow your rider or tuber and take a pass through it at idle, keeping an eye on the depth of the water and any potential hazards. Also, avoid towing anyone near the shoreline, docks, pilings, swimmers, other watercraft, or in shallow water.
This is arguably the most important tip to remember when taking part in any form of watersport – wear your lifejacket at all times! They named it a lifejacket for the simple reason that it could save your life.
Young wakeboarders opt for comp vests nowadays because they see their heroes wearing them during competitions, but the fact is some of these vests were designed specifically for contest conditions where the riders are in a controlled environment with emergency and medical staff on hand should something go wrong, and they sometimes lack the necessary flotation capacities. At the end of the day, when you bail hard, perhaps getting the wind knocked out of you – or worse, you want a jacket that will keep you afloat when you’re unable to tread water. Rather get the vest that would save your life than the one that might score you a few cool points. Make sure it’s comfortable, fits snugly, doesn’t ride up over your head, and has adequate padding to add some impact protection for when you take that inevitable spill.
3. Toe the Line
For everyone to enjoy a fun and safe day at the lake, a few rules are needed to keep everyone in check. Make sure you know what these rules are and follow them. There are a few universal boating regulations such as sticking to your boat’s passenger and rider capacity, wearing lifejackets, etc; but each dam or lake will have its own set of rules which you would need to study and abide by. Also, do not, under any circumstances, operate a boat or participate in any kind of watersport while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. It is extremely irresponsible and reckless and you’re putting your own life and those of your fellow water users at risk by drinking and boating. Keep those beers in the coolerbox until after your set is done or until after you’ve finished driving the boat.
4. Speed Matters
Whether you frequent your local waterway for kneeboarding, banana tubing, wakesurfing or a combination of different watersport disciplines, you need to understand that different sports require different speeds. For instance, you might tow a beginner wakeboarder at 15 to 18 km/h while an experienced slalom skier might like to be towed between 50 and 60 km/h! Different tubes require different speeds – read the manual of your sporting equipment before setting off, and of course you need to be mindful of experience, age and skill level when deciding on the correct towing speed.