The phone rings.  We answer with our overly pleasant greeting because how can you not? We are on a boat sucking the last few minutes of daylight and pushing into the “Is it too dark to be riding”?   On the other end of the phone?  Someone who didn’t have the best day ever.  They were out wakesurfing and they are looking to improve. Maybe they just got a new boat and are trying it for the first couple times or they are vacationing in the area, rented a boat and are giving it a go, anyway you cut it they have come to the conclusion, they need help.  They have tried a few times, maybe they have even got up.  Its not consistent though.  They have this big fancy boat and all the equipment but they aren’t doing much wakesurfing.  All they are really accomplishing is just dragging the kids or their friends around the lake trying to drown them.  The kids are frustrated, and starting to lose interest really quick, mom and dad are on edge, and their friends are wondering why they could get up on their other friends boat the time they tried it.    AHH,  The ideal boat day on the lake.  Good old family time.    

If you have ever experienced this from the being in the water side of things take some solace in it might not be you.   It could be your driver.   If you’re the driver and you haven’t placed a call like this for help…. It happens.   Good news for you is we are here and have the help you are looking for.

My dad used to joke that it is 90% boat driver whenever he would get people up.    I laughed it off for years.  Not until I really started coaching full time I realized just how important that person behind the wheel plays into your success.   Dad if you are reading this…… you were right.  There I said it.  Don’t beat me up about it.  Truth be told the older I get the more I figure out he was never wrong.   Ever.  God that’s frustrating.  

OK, back to the task at hand.  Getting people up each and everytime.  With a little bit of practice and armed with this know-how, you too can be the person that gets everyone up!  Who knows maybe someone will get you a cape for your new Superhero status.

Here are some tips to get you driving like a pro and get each and every person up on your boat.

Its time to start being the Rockstar you are keeping everyone happy and the vibes high.   Nothing ruins a good day on the lake like a bunch of people on a boat that couldn’t get out of the water only to watch that one token person get up who has adjusted to horrible boat driving and persevered beyond all others by not popping that handle.  


When people are learning to wakesurf less is more.  Less speed, less throttle, less rushing the rider, less volume on the stereo so you can hear, and less people sitting on the back of the boat so you can see.

Think about the pull up as 5 steps.  If you break it down it all becomes easier for both you (the driver) and your victim (the rider).  Its best to work together to achieve the pinnacle of all watersports excellence.   The deep water start.

Step 1 – Start with the boat in neutral.  Let the rider position their feet on the board where they learned about in how to master the deep water start. This should mean the boat isn’t moving or creating a bunch of tension on the rope.  *We often see people thinking if the boats is in neutral I’m not moving.  Boats don’t have brakes.  Neutral isn’t the brake. Any momentum can create tension on the rope. With beginner riders tension means one thing.  The rider getting pulled out of position, the board flying off their feet and them having to do a bunch of swimming to reset or you having to reposition the boat.

Now that they are all set up gently add some tension on the rope to pull them behind the boat.  You will have to feather that throttle (in and out of gear) to get them where you need them as the boat being in full idol is generally too fast for a beginner rider.  This is where the skill of the driver becomes super important.  You need to watch your rider and give them what they need.   If the rider is out of position and you add throttle or accelerate, they the rider will continue to be out of position resulting in another reset.

Tip: Remember, No one ever corrects themselves while accelerating.  The increase in speed only exasperates the problem. 

Step 2 – Here comes the part where you will want to help the rider flip that board up onto their feet.  This can be accomplished by dropping that boat into gear and holding it there.  If the rider doesn’t get that board up to their feet you will notice they are starting to get dragged. Water will start breaking off their chest and covering their face.  At this point we suggest cutting the throttle back to neutral.  As previously mentioned if someone is out of position they generally do not self correct.  You will only add to their frustrations and help them along their way to a self inflicted waterboarding.     

Once the board has flipped up onto the rider’s feet they should be in the set position.   This position looks like someone sitting in a chair.  Their knees are bent, their arms are straight and the board is 90 degrees to the boat.     When you are first starting out it takes a little bit to identify when they are set and ready to go.   Drivers tend to rush this part. Take your time. If the rider is in the set position they can stay like that all day.  It is best to be sure.  A really common mistake is a driver will see what looks like a ready rider, but the board hasn’t quite made it so their whole foot is firmly planted on it.  If they are truly set you can drag them around the lake in idol and they will have complete control of the board while still maintaining  a strong comfortable position.  

Step 3 – Once the rider is set, gently add some throttle to pull the rider out of the water. Pay close attention to the rider’s body position.  These boats have an insane amount of power.   It’s our job to manage it.  Gone are the days of having to floor the boat to get your uncle up on that 75 horse Johnson.    You only need to give enough throttle on this step to get them upright on the board.   The faster you accelerate the faster that wave will start to build.  You are only trying to apply enough throttle to get the rider in a standing position and be able to set an edge. 

When a beginner is trying to get up that wave is a pretty big hill to pull out and over.  Why not give them a chance to get outside that wave before it sets up to full height.   You should never be at surf speed before the rider is outside of the wave.  If you find yourself at speed before the rider is outside the wave slow down!!!     Surf boards have a ton of volume.  That coupled with the angle of the rope up to the tower means we can be going way slower than other watersports to get us up and planning.  I am 200 lbs and can stand on my board at 4 mph so that should give you some idea to how slow you can go. 

Step 4 – Once the rider has pulled out and is outside of the wave give them a quick second to make sure they have their balance.  Tip: Ensure the rider is in a strong body position.  If they are hinged at the waist, leaning forward, wobbling all over you should hold your speed here until they have gained control and or gotten themselves into a stronger body position. Once the rider is steady and in control begin to slowly start applying some more throttle.  Quick adjustments to the speed for a beginner usually result in one thing.   Quick bails.   The steadier and more linear the increase in speed, the steadier the pull will feel for the rider.  This linear speed adjustment is what gives the rider a sense of security and comfort.  Remmber quick adjustments in speed are usually the catalyst for a fall.  

There is nothing wrong with towing a new rider outside the wave at 8mph while they get used to the feeling of riding sideways and getting pulled across the water.  Remember this is new and it takes a bit to get used to the feeling.  Some will grasp it quicker than others.  The longer someone stays up riding as a result of you helping them by driving properly the faster they will progress.  There is nothing worse than spending a bunch of time setting and resetting the rider, finally having them grasp the concept and get the feeling of that board flipping up to their feet only to have the boat accelerates too fast, the rider getting pulled out of position and they crash.   As my dad so infamously says.  “It’s 90% boat driver”.   And once again, My Dad isn’t wrong.  

Tips to help a rider get outside the wave.

It is possible to get up, pull outside the wave and drop the rope your first time.  This isn’t completely the norm but we do see it more than you think.  With our dryland practice and instruction before a rider ever gets wet, we are at roughly 80-% for people getting up and standing their very first time.  Of that group we are 50% or so for people dropping the rope their very first time up behind the boat.  If you expand that number out to 3 attempts  we are somewhere in the range of 95% standing behind the boat getting pulled.    In this select group of fine people there are a portion that really struggle to pull outside of the wave.   For whatever reason they get stuck behind the boat.   It all boils down to body position, how they are applying pressure to the handle /rope and how much pressure they are applying to their edge.  More often than not the rider is staying square to the rope coming off the tower and locking into the position.  In the boat it is a super difficult thing to explain to someone and really truly is very feeling oriented.  That being said as a driver you can help them out.   Please use this tip sparingly as the majority of people shouldn’t require it.  If you turn the boat into the direction the rider is trying to pull out, it should help get your rider that last little bit of distance needed and/or change the angle that they are pulling on the rope just enough to get them over the wave.  Once they have crested whatever wave has built up you can slowly correct into a straight line.  The slight turn into the rider’s direction of travel keeps them from remaining square to the rope coming off the tower which will keep you directly behind the boat.

Step 5 – Your rider is outside the wave, in a strong body position, they are comfortable and hopefully have a smile on their face.   Now is its time to put the icing on the cake.  In that same Linear application of the throttle you’ve been using this whole time to get to this point you can apply that last little bit to get them to their final speed.   If you had to turn into the rider to assist them or make a navigational correction now is the time.  Straighten that puppy out and enjoy.  Your work as a superhero is now done!!