This issue, rail rider Scott Bennett gives us a rundown on the basics of hitting rails.
Rail Sizes and Shapes
There are many different rail sizes and shapes. If you are planning to hit a rail for the first time, the easiest type of rail to hit is a really wide rail (known as a box).
The reason for this is that you have a wide surface to aim for, and if you do fall, it’s a lot safer.
Also, the shorter the rail, is the easier it is going to be. The longer you are on a rail, the more the boat wants to pull you off if it!
Ways to hit Rails
There are three different ways to be towed into a rail, and each way has its advantages and disadvantages.
• The most common is a boat or PWC. The advantage here is that you can simply drive past the rail and hit it between tricks.
• Another way to hit a rail is at a cable park. Cable Parks are like skate parks on water, with an overhead pulling system keeping you going. They have a great range of rails and ramps, the only downside is if you fall, you’re swimming to the shore and walking back.
Cable Parks in Australia:
- Bli Bli
• The last way to hit a rail is a winch. Winches are great if there is a spot that a boat or PWC can’t fit, a flood, or you don’t have a boat.
A winch is a motorised winch with enough power to pull a rider out of the water and keep you going for up to 350m. You can pretty much take them anywhere and all you need is two pegs to stake them into the ground.
The only problem here is that it’s slow between rides, as you need to walk (or swim) the handle back everytime.
When hitting rails, the most important thing is the edge you take into it. Do not just go out wide and get in line with it.
It’s best to wait just outside the boat wake and when you’re roughly 5m away from the rail. Start edging towards the up ramp. As you hit the up ramp, hop off your edge and stand flat on your board.
Each pulling system requires a different edge:
When at a cable park, you need quite a generous edge when cutting into a rail. Another good tip is to lean against the cable while sliding (as it feels like the cable wants to pull you off the rail).
Boat / PWC
When hitting rails behind a boat or personal watercraft, slightly less edge is needed than at a cable park. Once on the rail comfortably, you’re pretty much going to make it to the end. If you come off on the boat side of the rail, you’re not edging enough, and if you come off on the other side of the rail, you’re edging too much.
A winch requires no edge. This is the only time it’s ok to ride straight at the rail (as a snowboarder would). The reason for this is you are being pulled from straight in front of the rail and not from the side like with a boat or cable park.
Driving for Rails
When driving for rails, it’s important to be wide enough away from the rail so that the boat wash doesn’t get in the rider’s way. You want to aim to have the rider hit the rail about two metres outside the boat wash.
A good speed to learn to hit rails is around 26km/h, and once you start to get comfortable with the rail, it’s best to pick up the speed back to your usual riding speed.
50-50 or Boardslide
A common question when hitting rails is “what is easier, 50- 50 or boardslide?”
There really is no right or wrong way to learn and different people have different opinions.
Generally, it’s easier to ride up and over a rail in a 50-50 position (this is where learning on a wide rail really helps). But when riding on a skinnier rail it’s safer, looks better and feels better to be in a boardslide.
*Tip: A boardslide is not a butter slide. You need to be leaning forward while sliding, and have your weight in your toes.
When watching a wakeboard DVD or the better riders at a cable park, you might notice that they are ollying onto the rails. Once you start getting comfortable with using the up ramp onto the rail, practice some ollies on the open water, then try ollying onto the rail. This helps with consistency and also looks and feels a lot better.
Article by Scott Bennett