Is A Wakeboard Tower Better For Towing – Yes, For Wakeboards

A black wakeboard tower mounted to a red and white boat with blue sky in the background.

Wakeboard towers are much better for towing wakeboards, because that’s what they were designed to do. However, you shouldn’t tow just anything with it. Let me explain why in this article.


A wakeboard tower is perfect for towing wakeboards and kneeboards. However, the high tow point makes towing a skier very dangerous because the towing boat can get tipped when the skier is out to the side of the boat. Wakeboard towers are not designed to tow tubers either, as a tube could generate 10 times the stress and G-force on your wakeboard tower mounts and boat hull.


Wakeboard towers can provide a lot of functionality to really improve your overall boating experience. It’s not just for towing. There are many accessories available to mount on your wakeboard tower that can add functionality, which can greatly improve your boating experience.



Towing With A Wakeboard Tower


The problem in towing with a wakeboard tower is that most people don’t read directions. We have a “Monkey see, Monkey do” mentality. A lot of people will tow inflatables with their wakeboard tower’s tow point, not knowing they are risking their boat hull, wakeboard tower, and the people along for the ride. They do this because they have seen other people do this.


Most wakeboard towers have warning labels that state things like:

  • A wakeboard tower should be used to tow a wakeboarder only. Not for use with inflatables or other towables.
  • Do not tow more than one (1) person at a time from a wakeboard tower.
  • Do not use a wakeboard tower for towing parasails, kites, tubes, inflatable towables or other watercraft.
  • Do not jump or dive off a wakeboard tower.
  • Do not climb on, hang on, or sit on top of the tower at any time.
  • Do not allow passengers to sit behind the rope attachment point when the wakeboard tower is in use.
  • Check to be certain all bolts are tight and in place before each use of the tower.
  • Improper use may overstress the tower, imbalance the boat, or allow the tow rope to contact passengers which could cause injury.


Why do you suppose these warning labels are on wakeboard towers, but not on the transom of your boat? Because your boat’s transom is the strongest and lowest tow point on your boat. There are also not passangers behind the transom.



Risks Of Overloading Your Wakeboard Tower


A wakeboarder inverted over a boat wake with cloudy skys in the background.When you tow a wakeboarder, the pull on the wakeboard tower is, for the most part, directly from behind the boat. This is because a wakeboarder is back there for the purpose of playing on the boat’s wake which is right behind the boat. They also use a much shorter rope than a skier, which holds them where the wake is narrow and tall.


There’s not much load being put on the wakeboard tower for a couple reasons:

  • The wakeboard has a large bottom surface so it pulls extremely easy.
  • The rope is being held by human hands that can only hold on under relatively little pressure.


A waterskier can apply a little more pressure from a hard cut, but again it’s just held by human hands. The one issue that a waterskier can create, is a heavier side load on the high tow point of a wakeboard tower by going way out to the side of the boat. This can not only put side stress on the wakeboard tower and your fiberglass hull, but it can seriously lean the boat over causing handling issues for the driver.


Your wakeboard tower may be able to handle this sideload, but it’s not what it is designed for. They are also not designed for heavy tow loads, like the pressure from a submerged inflatable tube? Wakeboard towers are not designed for this level of stress load. Even if it could handle it, your wakeboard tower is only mounted to the relatively thin fiberglass hull of your boat. That’s where the pressure is all transferred to.


All that torque is trying to pull the front mounts up, and pushing down on the rear mounts. Look at the surface area of the rear mount that is being driven down. You’re just asking to crack your hull at the mount points, if not drive them through the hull. I have seen bent wakeboard towers and severly damaged boat hulls, because of heavy tow loads.



How Much Pressure Can A Tube Put On A Wakeboard Tower And Hull


Just having one person on the tube can wreck your wakeboard tower, but the more people you add back there, the higher the chances of a boat damage. It could happen with nobody on the tube!


I saw a guy marketing a wakeboard tower that’s supposed to be stronger and can handle multiple tubes being pulled. He never considered that the hull of his boat just can’t take that amount of pressure. This tower isn’t marketed for pulling tubes anymore, lol.


Two people being towed by a boat in the water and one of them falling off the tube.When a rider falls off the tube, it tumbles and can easily fill the center of the tube and submerge. It will feel like your boat developed very strong brakes. The transfer of pressure, from the leverage of the high tow point, down to the mounts, could develop over 10,000 foot pounds of torque at the mounts!


Remember that a tubing rope is a solid tied mount that doesn’t rely on human strength to stay hooked up. That rope has about a 4,000 pound breaking point roughly. So for example, if it did load close to breaking the rope, you have 4,000 pounds of pressure at the tow point. Multiply a 5 foot high tow point, and leverage down per foot to the mounts and you have 20,000 foot pounds of torque spread over the four mounts. That could be 5,000 foot pounds per mount!




How Much Pressure Can A Wakeboarder Put On A Wakeboard Tower And Hull


Let’s consider that you have a pretty strong wakeboarder behind your boat. If he falls or really digs hard, his grip at best is good for about 200 pounds of pressure. So let’s calculate out what the wakeboard tower is expected to do when it’s used as intended.


A grip holding 200 pounds of pressure being transferred 5 feet down to the mount points, develops 1,000 foot pounds of torque. Divided among the mount points, gives only 250 pounds of pressure per mount.


So do you think putting up to 5,000 pounds in a location that was meant for 250 pounds, is a good idea? I don’t.



Don’t Side-load Your Wakeboard Tower


One might consider pulling tubes to be a straight pull back because the tube rides straight behind the boat. Not true. When we tow inflatables, they track wherever the momentum takes them. We often make turns with the boat to whip the tube outside the wake area.


Any  kind of crash or submergence of a tube out there would cause a massive side load on the wakeboard tower and mounts. Wakeboard towers are not designed for heavy side loads. Also how far would that heavy side load pull your boat over? Something has to give!


If you are not towing a wakeboarder, then don’t use the wakeboard tower’s tow point. Your boat is equipped with the proper tow point for everything else. Waterskiers could use a tow pole mounted in the floor of the boat, but tubes need to use the transom tow points.


The towing locations on the transom of your boat are anchored in to a very large and sturdy wood core (in most cases it’s wood). These are going to be the strongest point on your boat for pulling or even towing another boat if necessary.


You should also consider that when you are towing from the transom, that if your tow rope breaks, it will snap back at your boat at a lower trajectory. This could save your passengers from getting hit with broken tow rope.



Wakeboard Tower Functionality


A bowrider boat at dock in the water with a wakeboard tower that has many accessories attached to it.A wakeboard tower has a lot of functionality.

  • Elevated tow point helps wakeboarders to achieve much higher aerial maneuvers
  • The high tow point aids in pulling the wakeboarder up onto plane
  • It also helps keep the tow rope out of the water
  • It provides space to mount wakeboards and surfboards to keep your floor space open
  • Great place to mount awesome speakers and lights
  • Mount a bimini top to it for some sun protection
  • Seriously improve the looks of your boat!


Given these functionality points, wakeboard towers work great on not only direct drives and V-drives, but also on I/O and outboard boats as well. The point of a boat is to enjoy the one you have. Go check out the Wakeboard tower sections of my Boat Accessories page to get some great ideas for your boat.


I bought my first boat while in high school 1981. I had more hours working on it than using it in the water. I can't count how many boats I've had since, but I really enjoy reviving boats. I've had so many boats that I could never use them all. Once I fix a boat up, I play with it a couple times and sell it. My goal is to use my many years of experience, and help as many people Begin Boating.

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