How to Tow-in or Step-off Surf with a Jet Ski
Tow surfing behind a jet ski is getting more and more popular these days, and here on the Gold Coast we are probably at the forefront of a new approach to jet ski assist surfing. Even though we don’t get swell the size of Hawaii, we still partake in a style called Step Off’s. At Jet Tech we are passionate about this approach to surfing, and on the good days here at the East Coast of Australia, we are seeing up to 20 skis in the line up of certain spots. Some of them spots and waves are only accessible and surfable by jet ski. But be warned! it is neither an easy or safe practice, you put yourself and your jet ski in harms way of the ocean where timing is everything.
You may be asking what is step-off surfing… step off surfing is an approach where we have eliminated the use of a rope, meaning we are not dangling around in cold, sharky water whilst waiting for a set to roll through. Step off surfing is great for surf between 4-15ft in swell size. Best done in teams of two on the jet ski. The ski driver spots a wave and drives approximately 15 knots of speed riding the face of the wave till last second before the wave breaks. The surfer then jumps off the side of the ski onto the wave, whilst the jet ski driver then accelerates forward out the front of the wave, and out of the way of the impact zone and surfer. With this advantaged speed and positioning in the wave, the surfer should be frothing on scoring himself the perfect barrel.
Necessity items for step of surfing:
- Seat straps with grab handle
- Rescue sled
- Turf on the side of the ski
I also personally carry dive fins, goggles and a knife in my ski for any unforeseen event and as a matter of extra precaution.
Some may ask, is step-off safe and legal? Well, no extreme sport is safe hence why it falls in the extreme sport category. The step off/tow surfing falls into a grey area in the rule book in some places as it is a fairly new sport. Here in Queensland, Australia, you are required by law to wear a lifejacket when carrying a passenger on the jet ski. However, when using common sense, a big bulky life jacket on a 8ft wave is not quite comforting and can get in the way causing a more serious wipeout, and even worse copping following 8ft sets on the head without being able to dive down. And do you need an inflatable life vest like Kai Lenny may wear at Jaws or Nazare?…. Probably not on a 8ft wave. For your own interest we have attached a code of conduct written by the QLD (Australia) government below so you can make your decision in what you do.