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Can You Wakesurf Or Wakeboard Behind A Pontoon Boat?

Yes! You can have a great time wakesurfing behind a pontoon.

However, there are some things to keep in mind to maximize your experience.

Pontoon boats are known for generating a small wake due to the shape of the hull.

These efficient vessels push water out of the way quickly and allow owners to go faster along the shoreline in designated no wake zones.

Pontoons also travel more easily amid anchored boats on sandbars or along the shorelines, creating less disturbance for anglers and swimmers who may also be in the water.

If you’re an experienced wakesurfer, this may mean fewer jumps and less height, which is what the sport is about for many practitioners.

However, a pontoon boat is a great place to learn how to wakesurf, modest wakes and all.

The calmer environment is ideal for those learning how to stand up on the wakeboard and cross waves.

Common Hand Symbols

Here are some hand signals to learn and teach your crew:

  • Go faster – thumbs up
  • Go slower – thumbs down
  • Stop – slashing motion (usually across the neck)
  • Maintain speed = OK signal
  • Back to the dock – pat the top of you hand with a flat hand
  • Turn – draw a circle with your finger then point in the desired direction

Learning these basic hand signals can help you feel safer in the water and keep your driver and spotter apprised of your situation.

You may even decide to work out a few more hand signals to make your day on the water go smoothly.

man wakeboarding behind boat

Driver Tips

When it’s your turn to drive, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help your wakesurfer have a successful ride.

Start out slowly, gradually increasing speed, and continuously checking with the person in the water.

For small children, we recommend a maximum speed of 12 mph.

However, adults will need 15 to 20 mph speeds to stand up on the wakeboard.

It’s important to assign a spotter who will keep an eye on the border and communicate any mishaps to the driver.

This allows the driver to concentrate on the water and other craft on the lake, river or ocean.

Once the rider has reached a standing position, it’s important to make wider turns and provide plenty of warning.

The spotter should look for signs a wakeboarder has lost control and signal the driver to slow down.

For beginning wakeboarders, it’s important to work out a signal when they plan to jump.

This allows the driver to slow down and avoid sudden jerks on landing. 

Getting Up on the Wakeboard

Standing up on the wakeboard may not seem like the biggest challenge when you watch others do it.

However, it’s the first hurdle you must face to practice the sport.

Here are some tips to get you on your feet so you can start perfecting your jumps, turns and flips.

  1. In the water, pull your knees up to your chest wall facing the boat with the towrope over the wakeboard.
  2. Give the go signal you have worked out with your driver and spotter.
  3. As the pontoon board starts to pull you, keep the board moving sideways, front edge raised.
  4. When you feel the pull lifting your body, it’s important to keep your knees bent and use the pull on the rope to pivot your dominant foot behind you.
  5. Don’t turn to face the boat. Instead, keep your body parallel to the wakeboard in the line of travel.

Now that you know the basics for staying safe on board and on the wakeboard, it’s important to understand what modifications you might need to make when wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat.

Contemporary pontoon boats are spacious, comfortable and provide plenty of room for lounging and stowing your wakeboard and other gear.

When properly equipped and powered, wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat can quickly become your favorite watersport.

Adjusting Speed Wakeboarding Behind a Pontoon Boat

Although we touched upon this in an earlier section, it’s important to understand the adjusted speeds for wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat.

You need to go a little faster behind the pontoon than other types of watercraft for the best results when wakeboarding.

Depending on circumstances such as water conditions and the experience level of the wakesurfer, the typical range for pontoon boat wakeboarding is 15 to 25 mph.

As with other craft, the faster you go, the cleaner the ride.

Maintaining a consistent pace helps the rider maintain their balance and control the wakeboard.

Therefore, the driver should avoid going slower than 20 mph, even if riders are practicing new tricks.

Surprisingly, it’s easier to master new turns, flips and other tricks at higher speeds (within the safe range).

  • Here’s how to get comfortable wakeboarding at 20 mph.
  • Start out at 15 mph until you can stand up consistently.
  • Gradually, ask the driver to speed up to 18mph.
  • If you feel comfortable, it’s time to ramp up to 20 mph to master your latest trick!
  • More experienced riders often prefer 22 to 25 mph, but you should choose the speed that feels right to you.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re used to wakeboarding on another watercraft.

Wakeboards tend to move a bit more slowly than speedboats and cannot make tight turns on a dime as some craft can.

Experienced riders often look for breaks from other boats and use them to make jumps and practice tricks.

You may also have to adjust your favorite speed upward if you’re coming from a different type of boat.

Although pontoon boats are all unique, a good rule of thumb is that 22 mph on a pontoon may feel like 19 mph on another craft.

In any case, you’ll have to work out the optimum speed on each particular boat to match your skill level and preferences.

Where Is the Best Place to Wakesurf Behind a Pontoon Boat?

Large lakes and rivers are the best places to wakeboard behind a pontoon.

However, it’s also important to do some research and understand which waterways allow pontoon boats and water sports.

Smaller lakes often prohibit boat wake, for example.

If you’re renting a boat, check to make sure that you can go tubing or wakeboarding behind the pontoon on that particular river or lake.

Determine the Rope Length

When you wakesurf behind a pontoon, it’s important to set the proper rope length.

Typically, a 65 to 80-foot rope gives you the proper distance to maintain a steady ride and made the most of the pontoon’s gentle wake.

Staying closer to the boat makes it easier to jump the wake.

So, beginners might want to start out with a 65-foot row.

More experienced wakeboarders often choose a rope length of 75 to 85 feet.

Choosing the right rope length can make it much more enjoyable to wakeboard behind a pontoon boat.

Use the rope length to your advantage when learning new tricks.

For example, if you’re landing flat, try letting the rope out a little bit. If you’re pulling up short, consider shortening the rope a bit.

Use a non-stretch rope to avoid unintended stretches during jumps.

Using a stretch rope can cause the line to snap back, which can throw you off balance and cause an injury.

Pontoon Boat Weight Distribution

To produce the cleanest wake, it’s important to have several people evenly distributed across the pontoon boat.

Experiment with placing people on each side of the boat to help firm the wake.

This can be a delicate balance, but your passengers won’t mind when they get the same courtesy during their turn on the wakeboard.

If you are an avid wakesurfer, you can consider using ballast bags to obtain an equal weight distribution.

These inflatable sacks take on water and allowed you to evenly distribute weight on both sides of the boat.

Now, you know all the tips and tricks needed to make wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat enjoyable.

However, it takes time and patience to master the tricks of the sport, including jumps, turns and flips. Have fun and stay safe!