Wakeboard Ropes & Handles Explained
Wakeboard ropes differ from water ski and tube ropes in that they virtually do not stretch. We wakeboarders rely on a taut, loaded line to allow us to get more air and to pull ourselves through flips and spins, as well as to keep us from face-planting. The value in getting a wakeboard-specific rope is that it will improve your performance and make wakeboarding more fun. Settle for nothing less.
Wakeboard Rope Materials
A low-stretch rope material, Poly E is a bit more forgiving and is the least expensive of the wakeboard-specific ropes. Poly E will stretch 2%-3% of its length under normal riding load. The give in the rope is beneficial for entry-level riders in that it helps absorb some of the shock of cutting through the boat wake as the rider crosses it. More advanced riders almost always go with no-stretch alternatives.
No-stretch Dyneema rope is super strong. It also outperforms steel and other synthetic rope materials in terms of both tension fatigue and bending fatigue tests. Dyneema stands up to salt water and has strong UV and abrasion resistance.
Spectra is a fiber that is 10 times stronger than steel, yet is incredibly lightweight. Wakeboard ropes made from Spectra will float, are very durable, and have zero-stretch.
Wakeboard Rope Coatings
Wakeboard rope coatings protect them from UV damage, adds strength to the rope material, and prevents tangling and snagging. It also prevents dreaded rope burns.
Wakeboard Rope Length
Wakeboard ropes vary in length from 55' to 80'+. The right rope length for you depends on your experience level, the boat's wake, boat speed, how big you go, and personal preference. A starting point is around 65'. From there, riders increase the length of their ropes based on their ability to continue to clear the wake. Wakes are different shapes and widths at different distances behind the boat. A shorter rope places the wakeboarder at a narrower section of the wake (the narrowest part of the wake being closest to the boat). With a longer rope you can generate more speed into the wake and catch more air as you pop off of the wake. The longer your rope, the higher amplitude and the longer distance you'll achieve.
Handle features have evolved to accommodate the demands of every wakeboarder. Today's handles are all about ergonomics with different materials, shapes, and sizes designed specifically for comfort and performance.
Weight and Materials
Wakeboard handles come in a variety of grips and materials. Handle grips range from EVA to chamois and are usually stamped or stitched with a texture to increase their grippy properties. Wakeboard handles are typically constructed out of aluminum, but some are made out of carbon fiber.
Wakeboarding handles usually 15" wide, but some are only 13" wide while some are as big as 17". Wider handles make it easier to perform tricks that require you to pass the handle behind your back.
Women and kids who have smaller hands will want a handle with a smaller diameter that they can grip more easily. Men and those with big hands are going to want a handle with a larger diameter. When it comes to wakeboard handle diameter, whatever feels the most comfortable is always the best way to go.
"T" and "V" Handles
"T" and "V" handles are attached to your main handle. They allow you to pre-wrap the handle behind your back to avoid passing the handle during a trick. "T" and "V" handles are often utilized to allow riders to grab their boards all the way through spins and rotations.