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Wakesurfing and Boat Safety Tips

Is wakeboarding dangerous? Is wakesurfing dangerous? Here at WakeMAKERS, we occasionally get questions like these about wakesurfing safety and wakesurfing accidents. Like any watersport or indeed practically any kind of human activity at all, there are some dangers involved in these types of watersports. But with a little preparation and safety, you can greatly increase your odds of avoiding accidents and ensuring a safe and happy experience for every outing on the water. Is wakeboarding safe? It's up to you.

Life Vests

Life vests, also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs, are probably the most important piece of safety equipment you can have on any watersports boat or indeed any watercraft at all. That's why nearly all jurisdictions require them.

A good life vest will keep you floating no matter what type of mishap may arise. That will help sustain you until help arrives. Because this type of safety gear is so important, you should make sure to find exactly the right ones for you and your crew. That means shopping for vests that fit right and feel comfortable.


Smart bicycle riders and motorcyclists wear helmets to keep the precious eggshells of their skulls from cracking should they take a tumble. Wakesurfers and wakeboarders should wear them too. Besides protecting your head from injury, a good helmet can prevent you from losing consciousness should you hit a hard object. Just as with vests, it is crucial to look for a wakesurfing or wake boarding helmet that fits exactly right and is comfortable to wear.

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Rope Length

Surfing behind a boat requires a shorter rope length than most other watersports. This can present a problem. If the boat stops suddenly, the surfer can run into the boat if he or she doesn't have good control. Thus an inboard wake boat is the best choice, because its propeller is under the boat rather than hanging off the stern, as with an outboard or sterndrive.

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Whatever type of watersports you're doing, it's smart to choose a "Goldilocks" rope length — one that is not too short and not too long. A really short rope can cause riders to collide with the boat. A really long rope can entangle the rider and make him or her difficult for others to see. Speaking of visibility, it's a good idea to fly a watersports flag to let others on the water know you are towing fun-seekers.

Tow Speed and Wake Size

Speed kills, they say on land. It can also be dangerous on water. Don't overdo it, especially with beginners. Start out slow and build up slowly.

Wake and wave size also make a difference. Your boat weight and propeller power and pitch affect the size of the wake and waves you leave behind you. But ballast bags can also affect the size and shape or your waves, depending on where you put them. As with boat speed, don't overdo it on the size of the waves, especially with beginners. It's also a good idea to play on flat water, where you have better control of wave size, rather than on the ocean, where natural waves can create some hairy situations.

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