How To Kneeboard
Picking The Right Kneeboard
Kneeboard pricing will be largely determined by the construction method used to make the board. Less expensive boards are molded plastic. In recent years manufacturers have created new shapes to try and increase performance of roto molded plastic boards. Plastic kneeboards work well for beginner to intermediate riders. When riders advance and want to start to learn big wake tricks they will want to advance to a fiberglass composite board. Fiberglass boards are stiffer (for more pop off the wake) and are much more durable in aggressive riding situations.
The edge shape of a board will also have a large effect on the performance level. Almost all fiberglass and many new plastic kneeboards have much sharper side edges. The reason for this is to allow the kneeboard to hold an edge much harder than the boards with rounded edges. Sharper side edges will alow harder cuts at the wake which translates into higher jumps.
Another feature that advanced boards have more of is "Rocker." Rocker is the bend from tip to tail of a board. Rocker will help a board transition up and off the boat wake as well as help the kneeboard spoon into the water for softer landings. Flatter designs will land much harder.
There are a few other features to consider when considering a new kneeboard. Some advanced boards feature a double lock strap to more tightly hold the rider in place on the kneeboard. Please note that double lock straps should never be used on plastic boards. The flotation of a plastic board makes this type of strap unsafe.
Some boards marketed to beginner riders will feature retractable fins. When the finds are down they provide a great deal of stability by forcing the board to go straight. This feature can help with novice riders but is never used after a rider gets the hang of kneeboarding.
Another feature than can be found on kneeboards made for novice riders is a hook or catch for the handle on the nose of the board. This can help beginning riders make the transition from lying down to kneeling when starting out.
Kneeboard Boat Speed
The ideal speed for kneeboarding will vary with the rider's ability. Young children will be able to kneeboard at less than 10 mph while advanced riders may ride at speeds in the 20-24 mph. An advanced rider will be able to generate more speed at the wake as the boat speed increases allowing for bigger jumps.
It is easier for the kneeboarder to make the transition from laying on the board to kneeling at a slower speed. It is common to keep the boat speed low until the rider has made the transition to their knees and assumed a comfortable riding position. The boat driver can increase speed after the rider is ready.
Ropes and Handles
For novice riders a longer line will be perfect. When learning to kneeboard any rope and handle will work. Ropes and handles designed for wakeboarding work better for kneeboarding than water ski ropes and handles for three reasons. Wake handles have a 15" wide handle which are 2"-3" wider than water ski handles. The wider handle will make handle passes easier when attempting 360's or other spinning tricks. Wakeboard and kneeboard handles will also float due to the pads near the handle while most water ski handles will slowly sink.
Wake lines are also lower stretch than water ski lines. A high quality water ski rope will have about 3% stretch while a high end wakeboard/kneeboard rope will have no stretch. High end lines are more expensive and the benefits of a higher end line are not realized by beginning kneeboarders so do not feel too much pressure to upgrade right away.
A third benefit to a wakeboard line over a ski rope for kneeboarding is the adjustability. Both water ski ropes and wakeboard/kneeboard lines have sections in them so that you can shorten the line. The difference is where the sections are. Water ski lines have sections at 15', 22', 28', 32, 35' off the 75" total length of the rope and handle. Wake lines may be shorter overall and will sections every 5 feet. The goal with adjusting a wake line is to set it to where the rider is able to make a wake to wake jump. More advanced riders will increase boat speed and lengthen the line. Novices can run with the full line and only shorten the line when they start to attempt wake to wake jumps.
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