OK, you have your gear, you have your boat, and you’re ready to get wet. What now? Stance! It’s how and where you stand on your board. Your first step is determining whether you are regular (right-foot-forward) or goofy (left-foot-forward). For those of you who skateboard or snowboard, this is easy. Chances are that you’re the same foot forward as you are on your other boards. If this is your first board sport effort, don’t panic. Stand up, feet together and have someone push you from behind. Whichever foot goes forward first is your lead foot.
Now that that’s decided, it’s time to set up your bindings. Riders just getting started should try placing the bindings at about shoulder-width apart. The rear foot should be slightly farther back to aid with directional stability.
The angle on your bindings is important. Start with the rear foot straight across the board (0 degrees) or slightly open to 9 degrees. Your front foot should be at a range of 9-27 degrees to get started. Remember that this is just a guide and that your stance should feel comfortable. Chet Raley suggests jumping off a low bench to see how you naturally land. Try the position your feet naturally come down. Keep in mind, however, that one of your first goals is going to be to ride revert. For this you will want something closer to neutral stance.
Quick tip: Before you get started, double-check the security of your fins and bindings. Do this every time you hit the water. You should even periodically check them during your ride after a fall.
Your first trick is the deepwater start. Start in the water, floating on your back with the board parallel to the water. Signal the driver to put the boat just in gear. As you are pulled slowly forward, the pressure against the board will allow you to get into the proper starting position with most of the board below the surface of the water.
Pull your knees into your chest, then push your front foot forward toward the boat. Signal the driver to hit it and keep yourself in a crouched position. As the boat begins to go, keep your arms slightly bent in near your lower stomach. Shift your weight toward the front foot while keeping the nose above the water. As the water begins to give you support, slowly rise to the standing position by extending your legs until your knees are slightly bent.
Stay down low and stand up slow!
Once you’re up, get comfortable on your board. You should have slightly more weight on your rear foot. Let your hips and shoulders turn away from the boat. Riders with a skiing background have a tendency to try to face the boat. Practice getting comfortable in the sideways position and relax. This is fun, remember?!
The switchstance start should be learned as soon as possible. Today’s riding style is either foot forward, and you should think of your riding that way too. Learn and teach the switchstance start as soon as possible.
Most boarders find it easier to start normal, then push the board to revert as soon as the board starts to plane off. Once this is mastered, you can go to a more direct approach. Alternate your foot forward every time you start. Don’t wait to learn to ride switchstance; you’ll need it for many more tricks.
Once you’re up, turns inside the wake are next. Practice cutting from crest to crest, staying inside both wakes. On your backside turns (shoulders open to the boat), shift more weight to your heels. Shift weight to the toes for frontside (shoulders closed to the boat).
When you’re comfortable with turns inside the wake, you’re ready for wake crossings.