Wakeboard Towing – How?

How to tow a wakeboard behind a RIB

Part 2 of our wakeboarding Guide focuses on RIB drivers towing tips to get your rider safely up on their board. See part 1 for our advance preparation and safety tips.

Towing a wakeboard RIB drivers guide Ballistic RIBs

Where to wakeboard?

There are many great bays and areas you can tow a wakeboard around the UK shores.  Always aim to choose a safe open water space, away from the shore, swimmers and anchored boats to start towing. Study the charts of an area and the weather forecasts and tide charts. A wind blowing against a strong tide can kick up short sharp waves.


  • observe all local bylaws, speed limits and wake restrictions within harbours and channels
  • check if you require a skiing permit – some harbours do not allow skiing or wakeboarding at all
  • if you are towing from a public beach, follow local restricted areas / buoyed-off swim zones
  • look out for swimmers
  • be mindful of other water users, such as kayaks and small tenders – your wake can swamp them!

Who does what on board the tow boat / RIB?

Always have two competent people on board at all times:

  • the driver concentrates on safe navigation and where you are going
  • the ‘spotter’ observes the rider all the time, relays any hand signals to the RIB driver and ensures the tow line is clear

Before you start the tow:


  • wear a kill cord whilst the outboard engine is on
  • ensure the skier is wearing a buoyancy vest
  • make sure everyone is seated safely inboard
  • do not allow anyone to ride on the RIB tubes, gunwhales or deck areas when underway

What’s the best speed to tow a wakeboard?

  • when you set off aim to give a steady, consistent pull
  • gradually increase the boat speed to get the rider fully up
  • once they are up, keep a consistent boat speed – around 16-20 mph

Top tips for RIB drivers towing a wakeboard


  • wait for the rider’s hand signal before starting
  • ensure their board tip is just above the water facing forwards before you accelerate
  • steer clear of other boats, buoys and water users
  • stop to allow canoeists and dinghies to pass
  • ensure a smooth and steady pull speed on take off
  • make gradual and wide turns
  • ensure the rider is not injured if they fall, or in danger – look for the hand signal
  • recover the rope as soon as possible, and before picking them up
  • check the tow rope is not at risk of snagging or getting around your propeller
  • return immediately to pick up the skier
  • stop the engine as your approach someone in the water


  • tow in restricted waters
  • turn sharply and put the skier in the water
  • increase speed or turn without the spotter signalling the rider
  • drive faster than the rider is comfortable
  • wakeboard at night
  • take the rider aboard without shutting off the engine first
  • put the boat into reverse when a skier is in the water behind the boat
  • drive the boat through swimming or restricted areas

Take the Water Ski and Wakeboard driver course

We recommend RIB drivers take the British Water Ski and Wakeboard Ski Boat Driver level 2 award, which is a certificate of competence.

At Ballistic RIBs we can arrange courses for you, on site at Trafalgar Wharf with a local powerboat school. Contact us on 023 9239 7000 or email us.  And we can also advise on suitable new or second hand RIBs for towing through our sister company RIBs For Sale.

See part 3 of our Towing a Wakeboard Guide with top tips for how to get started and ride a wakeboard.

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Hampshire, PO6 4PX United Kingdom.
+44 (0) 2392 397 000

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