Solid foundations mean everything to having solid form on the water. We check in with our favorite coach Johnny ‘Rubber’ Henson, to talk us through hitting the wake from the four different riding positions.
Having a strong foundation of basic board skills will ensure you learn at a faster rate, minimise hard falls, and maximise the amount of fun you can have on your wakeboard.
Time and time again, I see people hitting the wake on their heelside only. They do not want to try toeside, as it seems uncomfortable at first and the thought of riding switch is simply way too scary.
This way of thinking is very common on our waterways and taking a step back to learn the four different edges will help open up four avenues to approach the wake.
Take a wake-to-wake 180, for example. For a heelside 180, you approach the wake on your heelside edge and land on your switch toeside edge.
And for a toeside 180 you approach on your toeside edge and land on your switch heelside edge.
The four edges you must learn are:
• switch heelside
• switch toeside
To get yourself familiar with these positions, slow the boat speed down 2 or 3 mph. If you ride regular, cut out to your heelside of the wake (or in other words, if you’re left foot forward, cut out left side of wake).
From here, drop your back hand and start doing long slow carves away from the wake (about three metres away from the wake) and then back towards the wake. Concentrate on turning your leading foot, hip and shoulder in the direction of your edge.
Once you are comfortable with this, go over to the right hand side of the wake and practice the same thing on your toeside. On your toeside, you need to turn your leading hip away from the boat, to help turn your board. If you do not turn your leading hip enough, your back foot will grab the water and pull you over the front of your board.
Now once you are comfortable with both heelside and toeside edges, it’s time to learn it switch.
Initially, it will feel like you are learning to ride all over again. But keep persisting and it will become easier. When you switch back to your regular foot, you will feel 100% more confident.
Remember to take it slow and concentrate on turning your leading hip and foot into your edge – before you apply weight to your heelside or toeside edge.
By perfecting this, you are learning the four edges that are essential to approaching the wake and landing.
Once you are comfortable with your long s-shaped carves, it is time to approach the wake with some wake crosses.
Keep the same boat speed as with the previous exercise. You want to start on your regular foot and head out on your toeside, edging away from the wake (again, about three metres away from the wake).
Once you are out from the wake, coast for a few seconds and take a deep breath. This will ensure that you wash off any unnecessary speed before you turn back towards the wake.
Make your turn towards the wake with your leading hip, foot and shoulder. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed as you turn.
Cruise over the wake and head away from it (again, about three metres) on your toeside. Repeat this process until you feel more comfortable.
Once you are comfortable on your regular foot, it’s time to learn and repeat the process on your switch foot.
As you gain confidence, it’ll soon be time to learn some small jumps from each direction into the middle of the wake. After that you can take it to the next level by learning wake to wake jumps from each direction. And once you learn wake-to-wake jumps from each direction, your foundation of basic skills will be rock solid.
With this under your belt, you will be able to build up your bag of tricks at a much faster – and safer – rate.