18th International exhibition of boats and yachts
Moscow Boat Show

February 27 March 2, 2025  /  CROCUS EXPO  /  Pavilion 1


Keys to becoming a better wake sports driver

24 June 2022

Nine times US National Barefoot Water Ski Champion Zenon Bilas presents three keys to becoming a better wake sports driver in his posted article.

Driving for wake sports is not just steering and moving the throttle forward. Imagine the collaboration between the driver and the skier/rider as a beautiful dance, a true partnership for fun.

Key No. 1: 360-Degree Awareness

The driver should develop a high level of awareness around the boat, and a rearview mirror for the boat is a must. Aftermarket mirrors are available for runabouts, center consoles, bass boats and pontoons. Some mirrors provide a wider angle of view for the driver. The wider view lets the driver better keep an eye on the skier/rider behind the boat, especially when the boat is making a turn while pulling a skier/rider. 

Before beginning the wake sports session, the driver should make sure the passengers are sitting in seats and never on the gunwale. The driver should also make sure passengers dont have hands or feet near the tow line when towing wake sports. 

Key No. 2: Clear Communications

Before the wake sports session begins, the driver should ask what type of acceleration and top speed the skier/rider wants. If the skier/rider is a beginner and doesnt know, the driver should know the approximate speed for each wake sport (See Wake Sports Tow Speed sidebar). When the skier/rider is up on top of the water behind the boat, skier/rider can communicate to the driver and spotter via hand signals.

Key No. 3: Sensitivity to Safety and Success

When the skier/rider is on the swim platform, preparing to get into the water or when the skier/rider ends a wake sports session and is ready to come back into the boat, the driver should always turn off the outboard instead of leaving the outboard running in neutral.

When towing a skier/rider, the driver should always accelerate and decelerate smoothly. In addition, the driver should keep an eye on the speedometer to make sure boat speed is constant to what the skier/rider desires. 

Unless you have to make a turn, driving a straight line provides the best tow conditions for the skier/rider. A straight boat path keeps the boats wake even and uniform, which makes crossing the wake on a slalom ski or jumping the boats wake on a wakeboard much more fun. 

When turning the boat with a skier/rider in tow, always make smooth turns and never intentionally try to throw a tube rider from a tube during a turn. Its one thing to give a tube rider a fun, exciting ride and another thing to try to throw someone from the tube. As a wake sports driver, always drive on the side of being safe. 

Like any other skill, you will improve with more time on the water. However, the key to getting better as a driver for wake sports is to continuously develop your sensitivity to having the skier/rider have a successful, fun and safe experience behind the boat. And when you do this, not only will the skier/rider have fun, you will enjoy the gratifying feeling of being a part of the success.

Yamaha products will be displayed at the Moscow Boat Show which will be held March 2 through 5, 2023. All boats with outboard engines from Yamaha may be used for wake sports and skier/rider towing.

See you at Crocus Expo!