Want to surf in the water? Kneeboarding is an activity you should give some thought to trying. It is fun, and the fact that you do it with your knees is just really cool.
What Is Kneeboarding?
Kneeboarding is a watersport activity that you perform with your knees. Shocked? You are not alone. Many people are so used to seeing surfing activities that require using their feet that when they discover there is one you can do with your knee, they are taken aback.
Kneeboarding is fun. You are kneeling in water as a boat pulls you away. If kneeling in water is something you always wished you could try, then you have to kneeboard.
The history books point to Southern California surfers as the inventors of this exciting activity. They are credited with being the first to experiment with the idea on flat water surfaces.
Kneeboarding wouldn't catch on immediately. However, due to its newness and the fun involved, kneeboard surfing has become a popular watersport.
How To Kneeboard
Here are five easy steps to help you learn kneeboarding without much stress:
The first step to kneeboard successfully is getting the proper equipment you need. The equipment you require are listed below:
Lifejacket – You will be spending a lot of time in the water. To guard against unforeseeable and predictable hiccups, wearing a lifejacket is mandatory. While knee surfing, especially as a beginner, you will slip a lot. A lifejacket is vital if you start in the water because it keeps you safer when you fall into the water.
Tow Rope – This will be attached to the motorboat charged with pulling you through the water. They usually have a sizeable triangular end that you can hold while surfing.
Board - There is no kneeboarding without having the best kneeboard. The boards used are specific to this towsport. They sport a strap for keeping you in place when the surfing starts. Kneeboards usually have flaps to hold the rope for water starts.
Tow Boat – A towboat is responsible for pulling you around in the water. A faulty, smoky towboat is not suitable.
2. Kneeling on-board
The next step to take towards being able to kneeboard successfully is floating and balancing on the board. Once you have all the equipment you need, pick a date to go out onto the water to develop your kneeboarding skills. If you are a beginner, don't try for too long. An hour or two should be sufficient.
As much as it is fun, kneeboarding is stressful. Spending a whole day on it will leave you exhausted and less willing to keep at it. Here are things you can do to help you stay afloat and balanced:
- The first thing you should do is practice lying on the kneeboard while the towboat engines are off. You will improve your balancing this way.
- Secondly, ask the towboat driver to move as slowly as possible while you lie on the board rope-in-hand without trying to kneel. Beginners need this as it improves stability.
3. Kneeboarding Starts
There are two ways one can start kneeboarding; on land and in the water. Starts here describes how you would begin to surf. Both starting options are explained below:
Water Start - As the name implies, you start your surfing in water in a water start. The two boat drives you from shore to make this start. When you are far enough from shore, you hop into the water along with your board with your lifejacket on.
The boat moves further from you, and the tow rope is thrown out to you. You can do it this way, or you can jump out of the boat with the tow rope.
You are to attach the rope's triangular end to the flap on the front of the board. This makes it easier to balance yourself during the initial drive through the water before grabbing onto the rope.
Once the boat begins to gain some speed, wait till the kneeboard gets on a plane before you get on your knees and strap your thighs in place. You should take the rope out of the flap and hold onto it. It is also noteworthy that the knee strap should be loosened to make it easy to slide your knees in and lock them in place.
Land Start - This refers to kneeboarding starts you make from shore. The process is much easier than starting in the water. The board will be on the water bank with the towboat parked in water for a land start but not too far from shore.
You are to strap yourself in with the knee strap before take-off. Hold onto the tow and rope and lean away from the direction of the towboat. Prepare for a jumpy start and enjoy the ride.
4. Speed Control
People often ask what the appropriate speed is for kneeboarding. The short answer is "whatever you are comfortable with." You have to remember, however, to take things slow, especially if you are a beginner. There are some boat speed guidelines chosen for different age groups. They are:
- 5-10 years: Less than 10mph
- 10-13 years: Between 10 -15 mph
- 14-17 years: Between 15-20 mph
- 18 years and above: Based on the rider's preference
One other speed guideline you might run into is one based on the weight of the rider.
5. Learn The Hand Signals
Your distance from the boat while surfing, coupled with the boat's engine's noise and crashing water, are reasons you should know the hand signals. They are:
- Speed up: the thumbs-up indicates that you would like the driver to speed up.
- Slow down: The thumbs down let the driver know you would like the boat to be slowed down.
- Okay: If you are okay with the current speed or boat path, you used the 'okay' hand sign.
- Turn: You or the driver would raise one finger in a swirling motion to indicate that you would like to turn.
- Back to the Dock: Tired? A pat on the head means to the driver to return to the dock.
- Stop: If you would like the boat stopped, make a slashing motion across your throat.
- I'm Okay: If you fall while surfing and would like to continue, clasp both hands over your hand.
Choose any of the starting options that suit you when kneeboarding. As you improve, you will be able to add some tricks to your surfing locker.