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Why Water Ski Ropes No Longer Cut It for Wakeboarding

Now that summer is here, skiers and wakeboarders are gearing up for fun on the water. They will be waterskiing, wakeboarding and considering the purchase of new equipment for fun on the water. When choosing equipment for skiing and wakeboarders, not all tow ropes are created equal.  Those unfamiliar with wakeboard rope are wondering what the differences are to the more familiar water ski rope.  We describe the differences below.

One must keep in mind what type of riders are being towed, water skiers or wakeboarders or both, when choosing a new tow rope for this season. The differences are:

  • Length of the ropes
  • The stretch of the rope 
  • The size of the handles

Although, the two sports are similar, they are not identical. Each sport requires a different approach and it is important to know why the tow ropes are different, especially for more experienced wakeboarders.

Ski Ropes

Ski tow ropes are usually 70 to 75 feet in length and have detachable lengths that range from three to seven feet, depending on the manufacturer. They also have more stretch to them, which lowers impact on the upper torso. The handles of ski tow ropes are smaller and less padded, than those of a wakeboard tow rope handles. A large handle on a skip rope could cause entanglement, since skiers generally fall forward.

Wakeboard Rope

Wakeboard rope length on the other hand, is generally 60 to 70 feet in length and has very little stretch. A rope with too much stretch can cause a wakeboarder to slingshot. The handles of wakeboard ropes are larger, and have more padding. Handles for ski tow ropes are usually 10 to 12 inches in length. Wakeboard handles, however, are more ergonomically designed and are 13 to 15 inches long and are padded. The wider handles on the wakeboard tow ropes, provide the grip necessary pass the handle behind the back and affecting the wide range of tricks performed by wakeboarders.

Wakeboard Tow Rope Materials

Spectra: This rope is one of the coolest high-tech materials being introduced into water sports. It is stronger than steel but lightweight and will float. While not the least expensive, it will last for many seasons and does not stretch. This will give the rider the ability to perform jumps and tricks with a consistent pull through the jumps without the worry of slingshots.

Poly-E: This rope material has more stretch than Spectra and is less expensive, it is better for beginning wakeboarders than those with more experience. Experienced boarders will find this wakeboarder tow rope has too much stretch, and could be a detriment to their performance.

Dyneema: Like Spectra, this rope has the strength of steel but light like a rope. It holds up well when exposed to UV rays, and saltwater and is also highly resistant to abrasion.

Top Brands

Proline has a range of wakeboarder lines, handles, or packages that include both. Some lines are continuous wakeboard length between 60 to 70 feet, and others have sections that can be added or removed. Their lines are made from either Dyneema or Spectra rope. Wakeboard handles are covered in either synthetic or genuine leather, which gives both padding and a good grip.

Ronix offers wakeboard rope lengths up to 80 feet, with removable 3 and 5 1/2 foot sections. All of their tow ropes are constructed of Dyneema, with an outer protective layer. There are no Spectra ropes available. Their wakeboard handle is covered with memory foam and some are detachable, giving you the option of replacement.

Airhead sells Poly-E over Spectra and Poly-E wakeboard tow ropes with removable sections. The Polyethylene ropes are a less expensive option for beginners. The grips have EVA coverings with molded in grip indentations. There offerings are fewer than either Proline, or Ronix.

Choose the Best Wakeboard Rope 

As you can see, there is more to consider when purchasing a wakeboard tow rope than merely the length. The handle and the material from which the tow rope is made is also a consideration. Having the proper size equipment for wakeboarding can make your day on the water more fun, and will give you the ability to really show your stuff. When looking for a wakeboard rope consider one of the above industry leaders.

Now that you know what you are looking for, finding it will be easier. Have fun, but above all, stay safe when towing boarders and happy boating to you and yours this summer.

To view more tow ropes for water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing on Down at the Dock, Click Here.