Safe and Easy Boating Maneuvers
It’s sometimes difficult to know why one surf session was better or worse than the last. Most people don’t think it, but a smooth, organized driver is usually what makes or breaks your time out on the water. Smart drivers not only save time, but also promote progression (AKA FUN) for their riders. Here’s my Top Five Surf Driving Tips:
Surf in 20′ of water or more
For novice riders: center your rider behind the boat, turn to their surf side as you accelerate to speed
Drive with the wind and shore behind you
Use your driving path to shape your wake
Slow down your pick up line
Water Depth: As a rule, shallow water equals a shallow wave, so always drive in areas 20′ or deeper. The wave gets inconstant at 15′ or shallower; 40’+ is ideal.
The Easy Way Up:
Because your surf rope is short, the direction in which you pull the rider out of the water can make the start very easy or extremely hard. Most new surfers try to paddle to the side that they surf on when getting up, but if the rider is at an angle to the side of the boat, they’ll be pulled in the wrong direction back towards the center. You are far better to start your rider directly behind the boat. Once they have started to stand up and before you reach the set surfing speed, an aggressive turn into or towards the side the surfer is on will help them naturally ride into the sweet spot without getting caught in the white water or froth of the boat’s turbulence.
The Pick-up Line: We all know the pick-up line can make or break the moment, and we want our pick-up line to be short, concise and clean. The best way to pick up a rider is with an ‘in gear key hole turn’. For example: if a right foot forward surfer falls, make a slight turn to the left while you throttle back . Then make your turn in gear without additional throttle to the right, and head back towards the surfer on your original path (vice-versa for a left foot forward rider). The most common driving faux-pas is committed when a rider falls and their driver continues on a long wide turn at surf speed to return to them. Not only does this create rollers for your future path; this pick-up line is the fastest nose dive and cell phone killer out there. Keep your pick-up line slow to stop jostling your passengers and stay on your path.
Trick Tip: Remember to always pick up on the driver’s side so that you do not lose sight of the person in the water.
Drive Your Wave into Shape: Create a shorter but wider ‘pushing’ wave by turning slightly towards your surfer; it’s like being hugged by the sweet spot here, much easier for beginners to catch.
Create a longer and, often, steeper shape by turning slightly away from your rider. Here, the sweet spot is harder to catch, forcing your surfer to work harder and therefore helping them progress.
Trick Tip: If a surfer looks like they are about to lose the wave, the driver can make a quick turn towards the surfing side to help them catch up with the boat and land in the wide sweet spot.
The Path of Least Resistance: Stay out of the waves, both of your boat and of the wind. Choosing a direction that keeps you somewhat with the wind eliminates hull spray blowing into the boat and creates a smoother ride. For the most part, you want to be driving in a straight line; angle away from the shoreline and stay far off to prevent your waves bouncing back at you. Not only will your rider and passengers thank you, so will your neighbors!
Trick Tip: When idling back to pick up a fallen surfer, plan to hook them on your way by and continue forward so that you don’t double back on your own rollers.