Wakeboarding
by Dave

Man wakeboarding
Wakeboarding. Sliding across glassy water in the morning light and getting mad air while your date cheers you on from the boat. Sound fun? It is! Ok, well the 'mad air' thing is probably a bit much, but when you’re new to wakeboarding, even little hops can be a blast. There's something about the flow of wakeboarding, the fluidity, that makes it such an enjoyable sport. If you’re an active couple that likes to get outside and have fun together, then this may be a good date idea for you.

For those of you who don't have a boat, or friends with one, you're off to the rental shop. Most businesses offer a first-time package that includes the boat, equipment, and instructor for two hours. That may sound like a long time, but only one of you will be in the water at a time and even that person will spend a fair amount of time just floating around (sad but true). During your lesson, the instructor will cover everything from safety and equipment to hand signals and proper technique. He or she will also start you off slower than the usual 14-18 mph, so don’t worry too much about wipeouts. Make sure to schedule for the morning, the water is best before 9am when the wind starts picking up.

I'm not going to lie to you about one thing, standing up your first time on a wakeboard can be tough! Some people pop right up while others might not get up their entire first day. I was in the latter group when I first tried out waterskiing as a kid; the whole first morning, zip. The idea is fairly simple though, and with a little help you should do better than me. Your instructor will cover the basics like starting in a curled-up position, knees against your chest, and keeping the board at an angle as the boat begins to pull you through the water, etc. That's all good stuff you will cover during the first part of your lesson. But the most important part, and something you can practice beforehand, is the actual motion of popping up. To get a feel for this, sit on the ground holding the end of a rope and keep your heels in place (feet at an angle) while your date pulls you up using the other end. This is the same basic movement used in wakeboarding. Another idea is to sit on the floor and have your date give you a hand up. Perform this movement a number of times to get a feel for how you will pop up wakeboarding.

If one of you has experience wakeboarding, you can simply rent a boat and gear and go out. Just remember that, experience or not, you'll need at least 3 people in the boat; one person to drive, one to wakeboard, and the other to spot. A spotter relays instructions between the driver and boarder using hand signals, and throws up the flag during wipeouts. Use the opportunity to share this experience with friends and introduce them to your date! Companies generally require a driver license, credit card, and proof that you're competent in the boat. Some states require special boating licenses as well, call ahead.

You will definitely build up an appetite wakeboarding and should bring along high-carbohydrate, high-sugar snacks, but nothing too messy or complicated for the boat. Make plans for a late breakfast or early lunch afterwards.

One last point to mention is that wakeboarding can be frustrating the first time and a date is supposed to be fun, right? If your date isn't making much progress and seems to be getting a little down on themselves, try to stay upbeat and supportive. Don't make them miserable trying to get them to stand just because you think they'll have fun afterwards. They may be perfectly happy watching you board for a while before getting back in the water.

If the full package is a little pricey for you right now, don't worry, you’re not completely out of luck. There are plenty of wakeboarders who wouldn't mind taking you out for much less than a professional company. You may be able to get an hour long lesson for $50, a 6-pack of beer, and a sandwich. Try asking around on wakeboarding forums like wakeworld, find a local wakeboarding club, or even looking around and advertising on craigslist. Try to find someone who goes out regularly and meet them an hour before their usual time, or ask them to push their usual time back a little, and figure out a fair price. Who knows, you might even make a friend who will let you come along next time just for gas money. And the beer.

A good wakeboarding tutorial:



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Tips

It can get cold on the water, consider bringing a thermos of coffee or cocoa, warm clothes, and easy food like candy or granola bars.

Cost

$300-$400 for a 2-hour lesson
$300+ boat rental only

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