“Dropping the rope” is an early skill that every beginner wakesurfer needs to master. Though it might sound like one of the easiest wakesurfing skills to pick up when you’re first learning the watersport, it’s actually a bit more complex than it sounds.
Once you let go of the rope, you’re no longer holding on to a stabilizer. That means it’s all up to you, and there are a few things that can go a little awry and send you splashing into the water - but don’t worry! This quick, beginner-friendly how-to guide on throwing the rope for wakesurfing will help you spend more time on your wakesurf board, and less time in the water.
Start Here: Find Your Sweet Spot
Before we go over how to throw the rope, you need to have a grasp of what wakesurfers mean when they talk about the “sweet spot.” The sweet spot refers to the spot where you want to ride the wake (at the bottom, where it starts to lift), but finding it relies almost completely on using your body.
To find the sweet spot, you’ll need to be able to shift your bodyweight in different directions on the board, with your front foot acting as a gas pedal to speed you up, and back foot as a brake to slow you down. The key is to remember that a little goes a long way with these movements, so keep them small! Make micro adjustments while keeping your eyes on the back of the boat to stay straight. Once you find yourself in the sweet spot and don’t feel tension on the rope, you’re ready to drop it!
Common Mistakes when Getting Up on a Wakesurf Board
Now that you know what your goal is in order to be able to throw the rope, you can learn how to do it. A great way to learn is to make mistakes as you go. So, let’s cover some common mistakes you might make, and how to fix them.
Mistake #1 – You pull on the handle.
If you jerk too far back on the rope, you’re going to end up moving forward quickly. For most riders, the instinct to stay away from the back of the boat will kick in when this happens and you’ll slam down your back foot, but this creates a ping pong effect that can throw you off balance and land you in the water. Or, at best, you’ll bounce back and forth really fast, unable to find your sweet spot.
Solution: Cradle the rope with a little bit of slack as you slowly shift your weight back and forth, front and back, to find your sweet spot. Don’t use the rope to find your balance.
Mistake #2 – You throw the rope too hard.
Some beginner riders might think they need to throw the rope hard to get it away from them and the boat, but you don’t have to. In fact, throwing the rope too hard is going to throw off your balance and knock you off your wakesurf board.
Solution – Gently toss the rope to the side. There’s no need to throw it or try to land it in the boat. Instead, keep your position in the sweet spot and gently drop it to the side.
Mistake #3 – You throw the rope too early.
If you throw the rope too early, then you will lose the sweet spot. This can be extremely frustrating for new wakesurfers trying to learn the timing. Don’t give up – this one comes with practice!
Solution – Find your balance on the board and wait until you feel yourself in that sweet spot. Once you’re there, you can cradle the rope and gently toss it to the side.
Step-by-Step Guide to Throwing the Rope
Now that you’re prepared to make, and fix, some mistakes, you’re ready to see how to throw the rope, one step at a time.
- Cradle the rope with your front hand, keeping slack in the line.
- Learn where the sweet spot is by making small movements with your body, shifting your weight as needed.
- Hold the sweet spot as the wake forms.
- Maintain position and gently toss the rope to the side.
- Stay in the sweet spot – you’re wakesurfing!
Tips for Learning How to Wakesurf
As with many sports and hobbies, learning how to wakesurf is going to take time. Falling into the water repeatedly can feel frustrating, but as long as you pause to think about what could have gone wrong, every wipeout is going to get you one step closer to becoming a wakesurfer. Time, practice, and the right wakesurfing equipment will help.