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Buying Guide | Tow Ropes



By Steve Kopitz




You might think that buying a tow rope for wakeboarding, water skiing, kneeboarding, and tubing is as simple as finding the length you want and hooking it up. The reality is that it is not that simple and if you’re going to be active in any one of, or combination of these activities in the summer, you need to know the differences that exist and what type of tow rope is right for you. This guide will give some valuable information that you can use to make the right purchase.

 


Wakeboard Ropes

 

Water Ski Ropes

 

Kneeboard Ropes

 

Tube Ropes


 

_____________________________________

 


Wakeboard Ropes

 

Types

 

  • No-Stretch
    •  
    • The construction of a no-stretch rope is made from material called Spectra.
    •  
    • Spectra Rope is an extremely durable material with practically no elasticity. Meaning that a no-stretch rope will do just that. It will not stretch, making ideal for use in wakeboarding.
    •  
    • Spectra Rope also has extremely low moisture absorption, providing a perfect compliment to use on the water. It keeps the rope lighter and does not accelerate fatigue while holding on to the rope handle.

 

  • Low-Stretch
    •  
    • The construction of a low stretch rope is generally composed of polyethylene or polyethylene blend material.
    •  
    • This type of construction provides more elasticity than a no-stretch Spectra rope.
    •  
    • This type of construction proves beneficial to most recreational riders.

 

  • Multi-Purpose
    •  
    • If you’re a wakeboarder who primarily works on honing your skills performing tricks, a no-stretch Spectra rope is best.
    •  
    • For those who enjoy both waterskiing and recreational wakeboarding, low-stretch ropes will be the best rope choice. Low-stretch ropes provide enough elasticity for recreational waterskiing, while maintaining enough stiffness for wakeboarders riding for recreational purpose.

 

  • Length
    •  
    • Typical wakeboard ropes will range between 60-70 feet in length. However, rope length can vary.

 

Handles

 

  • Just as rope type differs between wakeboarding and waterskiing, so do wakeboarding handles.
  •  
  • Wakeboard handles are more specialized; offering more features aimed at making tricks and aerials easier.
  •  
  • Wakeboard handles tend to have a wider grip than waterskiing handles. Ranging from 13-15 (in) in width. By comparison, water skiing handles typically measure 11-12 (in) wide.
  •  
  • Wider grips help riders when performing tricks because of the necessity to pass the handle behind the back.
  •  
  • Wakeboarding handles will have features that make spin tricks easier. Often in the form of a rope braid or second smaller handle grip built into the rope.
  •  
  • Wakeboarding handles commonly have a neoprene foam float that makes them float.
  •  
  • Slower speeds of wakeboarders in comparison to water skiers allow for foam floats to be present on handles without concerns of the water ripping the floats off.

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Water Ski Ropes

 

  • Water ski ropes require a slight bit of elasticity that can provide give as the skier changes his or her speed and goes from one turn to the next.
  •  
  • Standard rope lengths are 70 feet. 75 feet with the handle included.
  • Typically water ski ropes are made from polypropylene that will stretch 2-3% of its length under normal conditions.
  •  
  • Rope give absorbs shock as a skier goes side-to-side cutting through boat wake.
  • A recommended rope is one-quarter-inch diamond braid polyethylene or polypropylene with breaking strength greater than 800 pounds.
  •  
  • Take-Offs: Allow for the shortening or lengthening of a rope from one attachment loop to the next. If you would like to ski closer to the boat, "take-off" loops, or further away, add loops.
  •  
  • Standard ropes will contain up to 10 colored sections that you can "take-off".

 

Kneeboard Ropes

 

  • No-Stretch
    •  
    • The construction of a no-stretch rope is made from material called Spectra.
    •  
    • Spectra Rope is an extremely durable material with practically no elasticity. Meaning that a no-stretch rope will do just that. It will not stretch, making ideal for use in wakeboarding.
    •  
    • Spectra Rope also has extremely low moisture absorption, providing a perfect compliment to use on the water. It keeps the rope lighter and does not accelerate fatigue while holding on to the rope handle.

 

  • Low-Stretch
    •  
    • The construction of a low stretch rope is generally composed of polyethylene or polyethylene blend material.
    •  
    • This type of construction provides more elasticity than a no-stretch Spectra rope.
    •  
    • This type of construction proves beneficial to most recreational riders.

 

  • Multi-Purpose
    •  
    • If you’re a kneeboarder who primarily works on honing your skills performing tricks, a no-stretch Spectra rope is best.
    •  
    • For those who enjoy both waterskiing and recreational kneeboarding, low-stretch ropes will be the best rope choice. Low-stretch ropes provide enough elasticity for recreational waterskiing, while maintaining enough stiffness for kneeboarders riding for recreational purpose.

 

  • Rope Length
    •  
    • Typical kneeboard ropes will range between 60-70 feet in length. However, rope length can vary.

 

  • Handles
    •  
    • Just as rope type differs between kneeboarding and waterskiing, so do kneeboarding handles.
    •  
    • Kneeboard handles are more specialized; offering more features aimed at making tricks and aerials easier.
    •  
    • Kneeboard handles tend to have a wider grip than waterskiing handles. Ranging from 13-15 (in) in width. By comparison, water skiing handles typically measure 11-12 (in) wide.
    •  
    • Wider grips help riders when performing tricks because of the necessity to pass the handle behind the back.
    •  
    • Kneeboarding handles will have features that make spin tricks easier. Often in the form of a rope braid or second smaller handle grip built into the rope.
    •  
    • Kneeboarding handles commonly have a neoprene foam float that makes them float.
    •  
    • Slower speeds of kneeboarders in comparison to water skiers allow for foam floats to be present on handles without concerns of the water ripping the floats off.

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Tube Ropes

 

Bear in mind that the rope that you use for water ski ropes is not designed with tubing in mind. Tow ropes, or tube ropes, are specifically designed with higher break strengths and less stretch than a standard water ski rope. Tube ropes are recommended by the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) and designed with the number riders being pulled in mind. Basically, a two person tube rope for a towable designed for two people, a three person tube rope for a three person towable and so on. Note: Never pull a multi-rider towable with a rope that is not recommended for the size of the tube, regardless of the number of people you have on board.

 

Your tube rope should be a minimum of 50′ in length and should not exceed 65′.

 

Tube ropes should have a loop at both ends for quick and convenient connection and never be tied to a towable or boat harness.

 

 

 

Specification & Guidelines

 

Number of Riders

Combined Weight of Riders

Rope Tensile Strength

One

170 lbs

1500 lbs

Two

340 lbs

2375 lbs

Three

510 lbs

3350 lbs

Four

680 lbs

4100 lbs

 

 

 

 

Note: Check with the manufacturer of your specific towable product for tow rope specifications. The specifications outlined above are meant to be a guideline ONLY and are recommendations of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA).

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