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Team Ripl
Team Ripl

My career as a professional wakeboarder has been filled with wiser people who guided me in the right direction and stopped me from making (most of my) mistakes. I’ve put together some of their advice with some that I’ve learned on my own.

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Advice I would give to someone who hasn't tried boating yet

Reach out to your boating friends and see if you could tag along with them, just don’t forget to offer gas money (unless you are on a sailboat). If your friends are not boat owners, see if you can book a time on a charter (fishing charters, sailing or watersports). Going out with a professional can be a great introduction to the water. You will get a chance to completely relax and enjoy the experience as you know you’re in safe hands. 

Advice I would give to someone new to boating:

Practice backing a boat trailer! When I first got my own boat, the boat ramp was one of the most stressful parts of my day. It’s like that concrete hill brings out the absolute worst in some people and it used to cause me so much anxiety. To overcome that,  I had an experienced boater teach me what to think about and help me practice backing the trailer multiple times :

  1. The easiest way to practice is if you have the opportunity to put the boat in the water at a dock and practice backing the trailer without a boat on it. That way you can see a bit better and you don’t have to worry about scraping the gelcoat of your boat on anything ;). 
  2. Go to the ramp when nobody is there: it could be during early spring or fall, weekdays, or early mornings. You could even go to a big empty parking lot to practice, it doesn't necessarily have to be at the ramp.  
  3. You want to be aware of your surroundings when backing the trailer, but try and get comfortable using ONLY your rearview mirrors to determine which direction you want it to go. Repeat after me “Turn the wheel AWAY from the mirror I want it to go towards”. In the beginning, I would look in the rearview mirrors and talk to myself : “Okay, so I want my trailer to go to the left, so I’m turning to the right." 
  4. Remember that it is JUST A BOAT RAMP. Take your time, you have the right to be there as much as anybody else. Try and prep your boat so that all your gear is packed and ready so when you get to the ramp, all you have to do is launch it. If it takes you a couple of times in the beginning to back it down, that is OKAY. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

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Advice I would give to someone who just started wakeboarding

Drive the boat WAY slower than you think! When you’re starting to practice your first jumps and 180’s you’ll progress way faster if you don’t take any hard falls and get as much riding time as possible. I usually pull beginners between 14-18mph and younger kids even slower than that. Also, watch a lot of YouTube videos! There are so many resources out there for beginners these days with easy tricks you can start practicing. 

Advice I would give to someone who wants to level up their wakeboarding game:
Find friends to ride with who have the same mindset as you. They don’t have to possess the same skill level but they need to be passionate. A good crew will help you drive the boat, motivate you to step outside of your comfort zone with your riding and get you out on the water more often. I would also suggest taking a lesson with a coach if you have one close by. Even just an hour will give you tons to work on back behind your own boat and you can also get helpful tips on how to practice safe progression. 

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