No longer do you use one rope for all occasions! We have purpose built rope and handle combos for almost anything you want to do behind a boat. Like getting the right oil for your car it’s always best for your gear, riders and boat to get a rope and handle setup to suit the specific activity your doing. There are big differences between a rope and handle setup for waterskiing compared to tubing or wakeboarding. Read on to find out which will best suit your needs on the water.
BEFORE YOU TOW
Make sure you have a solid tow point for towable watersports. Ski and wake boats come with in built poles or tower to tow from which are specifically made for this purpose. If you don’t have a ski pole or tower on your boat make sure that the tow point you’re using can take the strain of having a tube or ski attached.
For an outboard motor you will need a Bridle to run around it. A bridle is a section of rope with a loop at each end that runs a pulley with a quick connect attachment around your outboard. Bridles without pulleys are available for jetskis for quick and easy attachment without having to use D-shackles.
RECREATIONAL WATERSKI ROPES & HANDLES
The standard length of a waterski rope is 70ft (~21.3m) while the handle is 5ft (~1.5m). For general waterskiing, the rope and handle need to have stretch. This is important to make the pull of the boat more forgiving at high speeds and reduce the shock to your arms from slack in the rope. Standard waterski ropes are available in 8 or 10 section styles if you want to customise length for different skiers.
The style of handle you use for waterskiing depends on your ability and skiing style. A handle with a long vee section makes deep water starts easier for beginner slalom skiers by holding the ski steady as the boat pulls away. A short vee handle is better for experienced skiers as it has less roll and gives you a more consistent pull from the boat. The grip on a waterski handle should also suit the type of skiing you want to do. A soft EVA foam grip is very comfortable and great if you don’t have gloves but a tackier brushed grip handle gives you far better grip and is more durable.
TOURNAMENT WATERSKI ROPES & HANDLES
Tournament ropes are made shorter at 60ft (~18.25m - the starting length for running a slalom course) and have sections precisely set to competition standards. They are pre-stretched for consistency in competition and at a shorter length with less stretch, should only be used by experienced waterskiers.
High end tournament slalom handles offer huge customisation in handle width and bar diameter If you’re a competition skier, this means you can personalise the handle to the size of your hands. Tournament slalom handles are available in either 13” or 12” inch widths and range from 0.94” to 1.183” in bar diameter. Bar diameter is mostly personal preference but a thinner bar sits in the fingers better if you grip with an open hand and a wider bar diameter supports a closed hand grip style.
For 3-event skiers we also have jump and trick rope and handle packages available.
WAKEBOARD ROPES & HANDLES
You don’t need the forgiving stretch of a waterski rope as much for wakeboarding because it’s done at slower speeds. Wakeboard ropes have low or no stretch to give you a more consistent pull from the boat. This helps your edge control on approach and delivers more lift and pop off the wake. Most wakeboard ropes are 75-85ft long and come with sections so you can shorten or lengthen the rope to suit individual riders and boat wakes. This also means you can bring beginners closer to the boat for a flatter, narrower wake and give advanced riders a bit more length so they can hit the sweet spot.
There are three materials that wakeboard ropes are made from:
LOW STRETCH POLY-E rope makes wakeboarding easier on your body and more forgiving for beginners. It’s cheaper to manufacture than non-stretch wakeboard rope so it’s a great budget option to have on the boat for everyone to use.
NON STRETCH DYNEEMA OR SPECTRAline is best if you want the most out of your boat wake. Spectra and Dyneema lines are made from the same material as Poly-E ropes but have been extruded into much thinner, stiffer rope. Dyneema line is thicker than Spectra and a little less prone to tangling. Spectra is a lighter weight wakeboard rope than Dyneema but is thinner so we recommend coated Spectra to prevent tangling.
With a wider bar and comfier grip wakeboard handles make life better for the rider. For surface spins and spin tricks in the air a 15” bar makes your handle passes so much easier. Wakeboard handles are available in a wide range of bar shapes and grip materials to suit individual riders. A basic handle is round with an EVA foam grip like a waterski handle. Prefer an elliptical or hexagonal grip? Want the extra comfort of a suede or neoprene finish? Need a T-bar section to help get more spin? We have a huge range of pro wakeboard handles for a more personal feel.
WAKESURF ROPES & HANDLES
Getting up close and personal behind the boat is the aim of wakesurfing so you obviously don’t need an 80ft line. Wakesurf rope is only 25ft long and has more stretch than wakeboard or waterski rope. This is so that the rope will stretch underload and release to spring you into the sweet spot on the wave. Some wakesurfing ropes even come with a bungee section to give you even more speed into the wave. Ropes for wakesurfing have a series of knots along them so you can pull yourself into the correct position before throwing the rope back to the boat.
As the idea is to get rid of the rope entirely and as starts are easy, wakesurfers don’t necessarily require you to have a handle. Wakesurf rope and handle packages will usually feature just a small handle or knot in the end. For first timers it’s definitely better to have a handle but watch your head when they throw it back into the boat!
BAREFOOT ROPES & HANDLES
Footers like non-stretch line as much as wakeboarders do. Having a consistent speed and pull from the boat is essential to stay on your feet. Barefoot ropes are usually 80-85ft (with sections) and are made from Dyneema or Spectra (see Wakeboard Ropes & Handles above). If you’re footing off the boom bar you can also get 5ft extension ropes to use as a stepping stone to long line barefooting.
Barefoot handles are like a hybrid waterski and wakeboard handle. They have the same 15” width as a wakeboard handle with the super grippy brushed finish of a waterski handle. Barefoot handles are also available with a front or back toe loop and stiff tubing if you want to perform some outrageous moves!
KNEEBOARD ROPES & HANDLES
Kneeboard rope is usually made from stretchy Poly-E rope like a waterski rope but Dyneema or Spectra is available for advanced kneeboarders going wake to wake. They generally have sections so beginners can be brought a bit closer to the boat.
Kneeboard handles are the same 15” width as a wakeboard handle to make spins easier. The unique thing about a kneeboard handle is that they now come with an extra bar for use with a kneeboard hook (see Kneeboard Guide).
It’s not a good idea to use your long wakeboard or waterski for a tube. At 60ft tube ropes are shorter than any other watersports rope so it’s less likely your riders will whip out dangerously. A tube rope also has more stretch than any other type of watersports rope. This is so you won’t damage your tube or injure passengers when it picks up slack in the line. Thicker tube ropes are required as you get bigger tubes with more riders. All our tube ropes indicate the maximum number of people that can be towed safely.
Like all watersports ropes, tube ropes have a loop at each end that can easily be attached to the quick connect on your tube and the tow point on your boat. If you’re towing from a jetski, quick connect bridles can be used on the back of the ski so you don’t have to loop the rope through itself every time you want to tube. Shock Tube Ropes are also a great idea to protect your boat and tube from damage.
We hope this guide has helped you find the rope and handle setup that will best suit your needs on the water. Remember it's always best to be prepared with a spare in the boat just in case. If you have any questions don't hesistate to CONTACT our friendly sales staff.