Ultimate Guide To Boatmanship: Be A Better Boater

July 18, 2011
Master boatmen Erik Ruck, Adam Errington and Nick Weinacker aboard the Tige RZR.

What Is Boatmanship? Think of it as a standard set of rules of thumb on the water. They’re not secrets, but more of an unspoken code among watermen. Here are just some of the ways you can transform yourself into a more courteous, respectful and wake-savvy boat captain this summer.

Words: Silas Thurman Photos: Bill Doster

Slow Your Roll

No one likes the jerk who bat-turns back to the rider. Whipping around like an idiot ruins the water and is frustrating for the rider to boot. When your rider falls, put the boat in neutral, turn the wheel and drive back to your rider at a slow speed. This applies to PWCs and wakeskating as well. Take your time and keep things smooth.


Pamper the Boat Owner

Are you bumming rides this summer? Take care of the boat owner. After all, he’s the reason you’re on the water in the first place. Remember: He doesn’t just pick up the gas; he covers insurance, boat payments and wear and tear. It’s like living with your parents all over again. When you’re driving the owner of the boat, give him everything you’ve got. Pay attention, use the cruise control and make sure everyone in the boat is in the right spot so the wake is dialed. Compliment him, kiss his ass and have a beer waiting for him because at the end of the month, he has to make the payment — not you.

Find a Line

Although people often avoid them, there are lines on the lake. Don’t be the rookie driving in circles — you’re better than that. If everyone runs the same lines and shares the water, everyone will have a calm set. First, don’t try to run opposite sides of the lake because you think farther away is better. Your rollers have to go somewhere, and they’ll eventually make their session-wrecking way into the other boats’ paths. Instead, drive the same line as your fellow boaters, running a straight parallel path on the same line. When you turn around, first turn slightly in the opposite direction and then make a long arc back into the same line. For example, if you’re making a left, first make a right for a bit and then a long left back into the line. This maximizes your riding length and keeps the water as calm as possible without doing a drop.

Provide the Best Possible Pulls

Remember Travis Moye’s golden rule: Drive your friends like you want to be driven. Make sure everything is set before your rider hits the water. Dial in his wake with the right ballast configuration and trim plate setting and set the cruise control to his desired speed. If you’re lucky enough to have one of the new-fangled dash systems like TigéTouch, you can do all this with the touch of a button.


Supervise Your Sound

It’s fine to crank your tunes while you’re pulling a rider — in fact, it’s encouraged. But when he falls, tone down your stereo so you can talk to your passengers and your rider. You can use this time to explain to him why he fell. This will make the girls in the boat think you’re better than him, ensuring the best possible chance to score. (And by score, I mean take one of the lovely ladies out to dinner and a movie and have her home by 10 p.m.) When the rope gets taut, just tap the TigéTouch and bring back the beats.


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