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Watersports from the other side of the line


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I picked up our first boat this past weekend, a 2006 iRide. Even though it was cold we put some hours on the engine and are trying to "break it in".

As a kid I learned to ski behind my Aunt and Uncles boat. As an adult a neighbor of ours occasionally asked us to go skiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, etc. The thing is, they always did the pulling.

This leads to my question. Once we have our engine broken in I'll be doing the pulling. Since everyone here seems to have a lot of experience behind the boat, maybe you can share some of your experience from inside the boat. For instance:

1. Throttle? Slowly drop transmission in gear and then accelerate smoothly? How do you know how much throttle to give based on persons weight and watersport (slalom, two skis, wakeboard, wakesurf, tubing, wakeskate, foil, whatever)

2. What is a good speed, by watersport, for beginners, intermediate, advanced. I "kind of" know the ranges for some of these, but would be interested in hearing. The ones I think I know if anyone cares to confirm them and toss in any suggestions or speeds for other watersports

- Skiing around 26 MPH for beginner to upwards of 30 MPH for advanced

- Wakeboarding around 16 MPH for beginner to ?? advanced

- Wakesurfing around 11 MPH

- Tubing - Whatever the rider can take (OK.. around 16 MPH, not really sure)

3. You've probably all had a good and a bad pull.. what made it a good pull (in terms of driving, not a better boat Biggrin.gif )

4. Lastly, any other suggestions you want to throw in... remember everyone's got to start sometime.


Edited by B_Potts
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I am no expert seeing that I have only had my own boat for 1 year. But here are a couple of answers to your questions.

I grew up learning how to ski in the chaos of southern Ca., so everything was quick and hurried. I think I have come to learn and appreciate, "Slow & Relaxed with Good Technique". That used to be my matra when I did scuba instruction, but it totally applies here.

When you are shifting into gear, ease the throttle until you feel it in gear. It will be very slight, unlike an I/O.

When pulling a skier out of the water don't just slam the throttle to full throttle. Again, apply constant and steady force to the throttle and watch the skier/boarder get up. You will be able to read how much or little throttle they will need. I know guys that weigh 250lbs that pop right up, and I also know women that weigh 100lbs that drag.

Speeds are simple, start out slower for the beginners but teach them how to communicate with you as the driver. 26mph is a good speed for adult beginners, kids you can ski much slower. I pull my 7 year old at 12mph.

Wakeboarding is between 16-23mph depending on the boat and the boarder, again focus on getting the person up on the board then adjust the speed accordingly.

Wakesurfing is between 9-11mph, I pull at 9.8mph.

Other advice, remember you are in an inboard, so watch the bow of the boat in rough waters and while turninig. Try to avoid the power turns as much as possible, this messes up the lake and is a wild ride for your passengers. With that said, if my 7 year old or 4 year old fall, I power turn to get the boat back to them as quickly as possible.

While driving the boat, a straight line and constant speed are critical for all of the water sports, focus on keeping the boat speed rock solid and the boat perfectly in-line. Let your spotter help communicate the needs of the person behind the boat.

Most important, just relax and enjoy it! You manage your boat how you want to...you have earned the right to call it yours!

Have fun!

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1. Most of the time yes, but there are those skiers out there that like you to drop the hammer. Best thing to do is to ask what they like & go from there, if they don't know then give them a nice smooth pull up. After pulling someone up a couple of times, you'll be able to see how much you'll need to give them.

2. Depends of course. Your chart is close, although kids when they're learning will be a bit slower for boarding & especially skiing. Surfing is closer to 9.8-10, you won't be able to do it at 11.

3. IMO, a good driver is a conscienstious one that is always thinking of the rider. When coming around the rider in the water, I try to keep the boat just far enough away so that the tower doesn't pull the rope up off of the water too far because your spotter may not always be in position to keep the rope down near the water, & when pulling the rope tight I always try to stop the boat just as it's coming tight (this one is especially important with beginners, you can pull them all out of whack very easily). Paying attention to speed & what they want is important & of course tracking a straight course. I am also always on the lookout for boats that may be following too closely & if so I'll try to either change course if possible or signal the other boat as well as the rider. Getting your hand signals correct is another one that's important for good communication between the rider & the boat.

4. Use your speed control, it will make the entire driving experience much easier & less stressful.

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I agree with all that is said, and have one other suggestion for you.

If you are not 100% sure of your pulling abilities right now, and the crew you are

going out with are more "experienced", I would ask one if they can give a pull so

you can watch the subtleties of the pull/pick up.

Or when you go out on other boats, pay attention on the "process" of pulling a rider.

I know from my experience, I was on boats for about 4 years as a rider when I was younger and

just payed closer attention to driving the boat. So when I started driving, I knew the basics already. Of course, we all gave a bad pull every now and then when learning.


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Some good advice here. Listen to what Robert said, you can't beat first hand experienc.

Take someone out with you that is an experienced inboard boater. If you don't know anyone, try hooking up with someone here on the site. I'm sure there are people who live close to you.

And if not here, then contact your dealer and tell them you want them to give you a lesson. They should be more than willing to take you out for an hour or so and teach you the ropes.

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1. Throttle control is very important but it starts before pulling the rider up. For someone who just leaves the boat with the handle, moving the boat away is a series of putting the boat in gear and out sometimes several times so that you don't 'jerk' the rider when the rope tightens up which could be substantial. Throttle helps keep the boat in line while the rider is getting ready so you might have to make minor changes. You do NOT want to pull a rider up if you have the steering wheel cranked over one direction or the other. When you and the rider are ready, put it in gear so all the slack that might be left is out of the rope and a smooth yet aggressive pull (all of which you will learn with rider experience/size/age) is best. You also have to get used to your new boat. Learn how it planes. You have a direct drive style boat so it will plane fairly quickly. A boat always needs more throttle to get it going but once it planes, that same throttle position will over accelerate it which is something you don't want to do to a rider. Practice, practice, practice.......everyone here had to do the same.

2. What they said above are good guidelines for speed.

3. A good pull is a boat with speed control. You have it and should use it all the time. It will make your job much easier.

4. When returning to a rider, try to circle them on your side so you keep them in sight. Be very mindful of where your rope is in regards to your boat and others. Hand pull the rider back into the boat with the rope if they are finished if you don't feel comfortable getting that close with the boat. Know what your rope is going to do in the water without a rider as you return to the rider. Have fun.

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It took me a couple of trips out to get the hang of bumping the throttle in either forward or reverse to keep from yanking the line out of the skiers hands as he got ready. I also use the bumping technique to get the boat lined up.

I think boarders take very little speed out of the hole... I know that I've pulled some up too fast, but I can't remember someone not making it up because I pulled them up too slow. Now skiing is a different matter.

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For rope placement practice, throw a bouy over board and use it as your target "person" to practice getting set up, pulling the slack out without pulling arms off and returning to downed skier.

Also, these boats coast farther than you think AND lose all semblance of steerability when placed into neutral. Got to factor that in when there is a bit of current or wind.

Goodluck and great fun to you.

Where are you located?

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Where are you located?

Thanks everyone for the replies. I have watched some people that are experienced pulling skiers with inboards and have watched pretty closely. I'm sure the experience of the first few pulls will do wonders.

Baddog, I'm located in Southwestern Michigan

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Err on the side of not enough throttle rather than too much, especially with beginners or novices. Inboards need slow, gradual throttle unless you have someone that can handle it and likes it like that.

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Ditto the part about not power turning to pick up a downed rider UNLESS they are in danger. It makes me mad to be the only other boat whithin 1/2 mile and see a boat power turn to pick up the skier. Or even worse, the wally that brings the boat down off of plane then procedes to power turn at about 10 mph. Ruins the water in all directions. Mad.gif

As everyone else has said. Better to be too soft on a pull than too hard. Especially with newbies behind the boat.

Edited by Lakenut
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Somebody needs to cover this - if there are kids around most of us end up pulling tubes at some time, even if we don't admit it. The OP asked about tube speed - my rule is never over 20 MPH. And less if the kids are little. You can give them a great ride under 20 if you know how to drive. It is really easy to hurt them on a tube so pay attention to what you are doing. I gave my oldest son a spiral fracture on his ring finger several summers ago when I let the line go slack and then snapped it tight on a turn. I can't count the number of times we have seen wallys leave kids scattered across the lake as they fall off the tube unnoticed by the boat driver.

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One of the things our boat drivers do for beginning 2-skiers and for almost everyone who slaloms is to take up the slack gently then put the boat just in gear to drag them a few feet and get their position set before applying throttle. This will vary by skier but works for us. If you're an inexperienced slalom skier or 2 skier and the driver hits it from a dead stop, it's easy to fall over to either side. I've tried this while towing new wakeboarders with mixed success. Some liked it, others didn't.

Other thing, if you have people on board that don't go with you that often, be sure to review the audible and hand signals with them. Nothing worse as a rider than trying to get the driver to do something and they don't get it. One important one is the signal to indicate the rider is OK after a good crash.

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Don't forget to calibrate your speedo with a GPS.

Wakeboarding: You can pull a small kid around at 8 mph all day long. I pulled a pro event last year and had some riders wanting 26 mph. Most people ride in the 18-23mph range.

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Inboards need slow, gradual throttle unless you have someone that can handle it and likes it like that.

In the immortal abbreviations of T.R.®: IKAGLTO

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Don't forget to calibrate your speedo with a GPS.

And remember it will be accurate in the range calibrated. Get familiar with your speed/RPM and you'll give a good pull to all.

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All very good advice but a few things weren't said or I missed them.

Use your mirror, that's what it is for.

Always be watching for calm or rough water ahead. (steer toward the calm unless you have a tuber in toe that needs an attitude adjustment)

Always be watching for debris or people on the water, this is more important on some waters than others.

Thing that takes the longest to learn is how to properly throtle down to make a smoothe speed transition after you hit planeing speed. Can't really teach this, you just have to feel it and learn. Practice without anyone in toe.

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Take an experianced buddy and pull them... and be open to their critizim of the pull

I know my friends are my harshest critics - of course they don't usually have much to complain about... but they always find somethin' ;)

Edited by SacRiverRat
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Don't forget to calibrate your speedo with a GPS.

And remember it will be accurate in the range calibrated. Get familiar with your speed/RPM and you'll give a good pull to all.

I don't remember seeing anything about adjusting the speedometer in the manual. Does the Malibu speed control (standard on 2006's) need to be calibrated? If so, they must have done it before delivery.

How does one go about calibrating this thing?

By the way. It was a great weekend on the lake. I got my kids any my wife up on wakeboard and kneeboards on the first try every time. No skiing yet, I'd like to get a few more hours on the engine first.

I got slammed pretty hard when the person pulling me was not using the speed control and decided to add a little speed while I was heading over the wake on the wakeboard. My front edge caught and it knocked the wind out of me.

Thanks for everyones advice so far.

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