Just as science can be found in chaos, thereís an art to
driving tubers. Sharp turns, multiple donuts and jammed
throttles are nothing but gobbledygook on the water. A
dazzling tube show takes finesse and creativity at the
Building momentum in the tube is key. The only
way to do that is to keep tension in the line, so stay on
the throttle to avoid slack.
It sounds ridiculous when people say, I can get
people hovering above the water for 200 yards. But it is true and here the textbook explanation for this maneuver:
Boat direction: Head straight into the wind.
Speed: Once the tube is on plane, throttle up to 25 mph for
kids, 30-32 mph for adults.
Rider tip: Ride on your stomach with your weight shifted as
far back on the tube as possible, while pulling on the front
Best tube: Use a round, deck-style tube.
Desired result: If the front of the tube is lifted slightly
off the water at the beginning of the ride, the wind and
boat speed will eventually create lift. Next thing you know,
the tube is flying. Itís more of a horizontal flight than
Safety: Maintain a steady speed and a straight path. Any
sudden movements could create an air shift, sending the
rider into a splash landing.
Turning on the Air
When itís time to change direction, we like to send tube riders
high and wide.
Boat direction: Run straight into the wind and
then hang a 90-degree right turn.
Speed: Youíre cruising along at 25-30 mph. But just before
the turn, slow down a little ó only enough to keep the rope
taut. Then speed back up at the end of the turn.
Rider tip: Weight back, hands yanking the front handles.
Best tube: Big, round deck tubes or one seaters.
Desired result: When the boat turns and speeds up, the tube
will gain forward momentum. As the tube turns it will be
lifted on edge. It should hit the first wake, leave the
water and easily clear the second wake.
Safety: The driver will be speeding up as the tube starts to
fly. But as the tube lands you need to back off the
throttle. Otherwise, the handles will get yanked from the
Touch and Go
One of the old standbys for tube drivers is the donut run.
Spin around in a circle and see if the rider can hang on.
Thatís fine, unless youíre sharing the lake with any other
boaters. In that case, our expert drivers like to send
tubers hopping back and forth behind the boat.
Boat direction: The key is to get the tube outside your wake right
away. Do this by veering hard to the right, about 45 degrees
out of a straight path. This pushes the wake to the left.
Then turn back to the left. The tube should skate to the
right side of the wake. Now you can have some fun.
Speed: Thereís no need to push anything at this point.
- Always have an observer on board, even if your boat is
equipped with a rearview mirror. Itís next to impossible
for the driver to keep track of a tube thatís
zigging, zagging, bouncing and hovering.
- Never drive more than 32 mph, and much slower than that in
potential whips. Skipping a tube around at 50 mph seems like
fun, and it is...until the rider gets tossed. Water isnít
very soft when you hit it at that speed. Just ask someone whoís
separated a shoulder doing it.
first turn is the only hard turn necessary. Now you can
paint gradual S-turns at 25-30 mph. Adjust the throttle to
keep slack out of the line.
Rider tip: As you hit the first
wake, lift the handles and keep your weight back.
Best tube: A slick bottom, with little or no channel will
slide fastest. If the rider is too heavy for the tube you
wonít be able to get it outside the wakes.
Desired result: The tube, and not the boat, is carrying the
momentum. Riders will be whipped, bounced and launched every
time they cross the wakes.
Safety: Get a good look at the surrounding water. There
shouldnít be obstacles within 200 feet of the boat on any