Introduction: Surf Every River!

So you don't have a motorboat and still want to wakeskate? Here's how you can do it. I'm going to show you how to build a big board that keeps you afloat even at river speeds.

Friends of mine started this hobby some years ago with a rope and an old door from a wardrobe. It has come a long way since then. At first only one rope was attached from the bridge to the board with a handle attached to the board.

That allowed for nothing more than standing on the board going from side to side of the river.

So the next advancement was to use two ropes, one for the board and one for the handlebar, which allowed for spins.

But it was dangerous, the rope could get tangeled around your feet and if you dropped in the water there better be someone with a knife on the bridge.

After nearly drowning one time I had to change it up and I introduced the leash that attached to your ankle, so when you drop you just let go of the handle and float to the bank.

This board here is the third I made, the first was much too small, the second worked fine, but with no reinforcing fibres it didn't last.

This is the pinnacle of Amper-surfing technology you could say.

Step 1: What You Need

Materials:

• 3 sheets of 175cm x 70cm, 3mm plywood, in my case poplar

• 6 laths 180cm for lenghtwise clamping

• more laths or something similar to clamp perpendicular

• about 1,5kg of epoxy resin (you probably don't need all of it but accounting for wastefulness, spillage etc. it is better to have plenty)

• glass filament fabric - about 5qm2 (one sheet on top, one or two on the bottom and lots on the edges)

• a small piece of plastic pipe 8mm in diameter (for reinforcing the hole for the leash)

• sugar

• paint(optional)

Tools:

• a workbench (no smaller than 60cmx170cm, which are the dimensions of mine)

• clamps, lots of clamps

• a jigsaw

• clamps

• some sanding equipment

• more clamps

• tools for mixing and spreading out resin

• a drill (8mm)

• did I mention you can't have enough clamps?

For the actual surfing part:

• a surf leash

• a water tow rope (I previously built them myself, but the ones you can buy are nicer to hold)

• a river with a bridge

Step 2: Laminating the Board Into a Bent Shape

On the outer edges of the workbench we put raisers, pieces of wood about 7-8cm in height which will give us a rocker(the height the board raises from the middle) of about 5cm when the resin is dry.

On top of these we put the laths to support the edges and the middle(it wouldn't hurt to add more but it will be harder to clamp down)

Now we mix the resin, put it on all the inner surfaces and start clamping.

Add clamps and weights wherever you can, particularly on the edges where we later cut out the shape.

Step 3: Shaping

After waiting for the whole thing to dry, we can now mark the shape.

A string tied to a pencil makes a great compass.

I used pictures of wakeskates and wakeboards as a reference but in the end the exact shape doesn't really matter that much. We used cabinet doors once to surf on so, yeah.

Cut out with a jigsaw set to an 45° angle and sand it smooth.

Step 4: Add Strength With Glassfibres

I built a jig to hold the board up but you could probably do without(just slap some bricks under it).

Just add a layer of glass fabric and soak it with resin, make cuts on the corners and turn over the edges. Repeat on the other side.

Now add strips of glass fabric on the edges. The more the better.

When working with epoxy and glass fibres always wear protection!

Step 5: The Finishing Touch

Time to get creative!

You will want to cover the paint layer with one or two more layers of epoxy.

Now is also the time to drill a hole at one end of the board for attaching the leash. I glued in a small piece of plastic pipe for strength.

When putting on the last layer of epoxy on the top of the board, wait until it is still tacky and then scatter sugar all across the surface. This will give good grip in the water.

Step 6: It's Surfin' Time!

This is the best board yet, it is light(for the size) and still rigid, but there is still much room for improvement.

Enjoy!

One more tip: Tighten your bathing trunks before surfing :)

Comments

author
tobywinks made it!(author)2016-03-04

very coo;l.

author
KarstenHW made it!(author)2016-03-01

We used to do that at the Amper near Weng but we only had a wide construction plank. Worked well. Did you ever try it on the piece of Amper that is much more narrow and MUCH faster flowing. We just swam through it and there was no bridge in that area. If you do not know what area I am talking about - go find it. Much faster water flow but the river is narrow and deep there.

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-02

I knew there were more people doing this, nice to hear. The place where we ride is located in Olching so quite a way upstream from Weng, never have been down there. Faster flowing means more lift and to a point this is good, until you are just skimming over the water surface and that is when you lose some control. You can still ride that way though, and the heavy guys will love the extra lift :)

author
KarstenHW made it!(author)2016-03-02

Nice to see that people are still doing this 35 years later. :)

author
thundrepance made it!(author)2016-03-01

you're a really cute kitty, llamamake! who is that guy hiding behind you? ☻

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llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-02

Well thank you very much, I am flattered. You mean that human? It's my good-for-nothing servant who picks me up randomly and takes pictures of me when I'm not even thoroughly licked...

author
thundrepance made it!(author)2016-03-02

x^D

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darrenhall made it!(author)2016-03-01

Guys - what a cool INST.
This would be a great way for anyone wanting to get used to being on a board and feeling it moving underneath them - and hey!, no boat or surf required, sweeeet, plus you did the math and gave a build for the board, allowing for the possibly slower current flow - nice job.

Have posted this on the F/B group PROTO - TYPE - CHAT as a COOL INST and it would be cool if ya had time to maybe pop over and say a little more about yourself, other projects or just things that inspire and please - be great to hear from ya.

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

Thank you!

As you perceived it actually is very beginner friendly. Anyone who tried was able to stand on the board on the first day. With the shallow water you can easily stand behind them and help them up.

For two light people it is even possible to be on the board at the same time.

author
darrenhall made it!(author)2016-03-01

Showed this to my missus - she was like "hell yes - lets go find a bridge" - - this will be a great summer project for us - - - ha! we live in the uk so we'll see, we must get one warm day :-)

author
darrenhall made it!(author)2016-03-01

Cool - hope to see ya soon Mark

author
wet_colored_arch made it!(author)2016-02-29

brilliant

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

thanks

author
CigarSmoker2 made it!(author)2016-03-01

This looks really fun, two issues though. 1 Wear a lifejacket 2 Legal issues of using a bridge for purposes other than its intended ones. I could just see the police bringing an unpleasant end t the fun. Personally I think this is a great extra use of a bridge, but there are those people who will not like your out of box thinking.

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

Police came one or two times but not for our activities on the river but because we had the music up a little loud. When we turned it down, they watched us surf for a bit, wished us a good day and went on their merry way.

For the lifejacket part see below.

author
Mark+42 made it!(author)2016-03-01

It's probably in the Southeast somewhere - police are a bit less uptight in the free states (especially out in the country).

I sure do miss Alabama.

author
kelly.p.fitzgerald made it!(author)2016-03-01

No lifejacket in any of the pics?

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

The river on which we conduct our sport is actually pretty shallow and not that fast plus there are no weir systems behind.

Actually some people just jump into the river and let themselves drift to the next town and drive back via public transport. :D

author
Mark+42 made it!(author)2016-03-01

It really depends on the situation.
If this is a shallow & narrow spot that opens into slower & more gentle moving water, a life jacket isn't as important. If there's risk of going into the rapids after you fall, then it's probably needed.

Remember, surfers ahve been at it for a long time, and none of them wear life jackets (so far the nanny nazis haven't mandated it).

author
KenConstruct made it!(author)2016-03-01

What size water skis do you think you'd need? ;-)

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KenConstruct made it!(author)2016-03-01

I'm also thinking slack line with pulley (think Y shaped ski rope) and you might could gently enter and exit from the bank...

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

You would need gigantic skiis, probably not practical :)

And we do actually enter from the bank. We attach the rope to the bridge so the length is just enough to reach the bank. Jumping on the board to slide into the current requires some skill though so not everyone uses that technique.

author
LeslieGeee made it!(author)2016-03-01

Nice tutorial :) I am surprised that you don't have a fin or fins you can add to the board for more control.

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

Thank you! The way we ride, fins would actually impede the ability to do turns and shove-its I think, that is why we don't add them. Plus having more holes in the board would make it prone to breaking.

author
Advising+Elf made it!(author)2016-03-01

I used to do this 30+ years ago! We called it "skimboarding". We cut and drilled a piece of 3/4" plywood, tied a ski-rope handle into the top holes and another rope into the holes below, and contact-cemented some rubber floor mats onto it.

We would drive to a good spot on a river in a big 4WD truck, bolt a coil spring from a car onto the heavy-duty bumper, then tie the rope to it. What a blast!

Thanks for the memories.

author
Advising+Elf made it!(author)2016-03-01

Oops. Just noticed you do it a little differently, so a little more explanation is in order.

We tied the board off to the coil spring/bumper, and held onto the ski rope handle, which is tied onto the board just above the tie-off rope. When you leaned back and pulled on the ski rope handle, it leveraged the board so the back would dig down into the current. The coil spring would bend (we tied it off sideways, not axially). You could then lean forward a little to release the load on the handle, and the board and you would do a little jump. It took some practice to not fall over the front when you did this. You were then free-floating on the stream for a bit, until the tie-off rope straightened, and you jerked back into the water, held on tight, and repeated the jump. You jumped farther the second time, because you dug deeper into the water. You had some speed going for you when you dug in the second time. You kept repeating (actually resonating) until you would finally be thrown forward off the board. There were times you would be leaning back on the board, holding on tight, and be completely under water before you would jump.

Many people used stretch-rope, but it cost too much, so we used the coil spring. It was awesome. You needed a strong back, though.

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

This reminds me of the one time some guy came about to "our" bridge with one of those bungee cords designed for gaining speeds in any environment. People use it to do snowboarding in cities and such. It was a blast skimming over the water surface at high speeds, but with the big surface of this board the lift was so great, you couldn't control it one bit. So for riding that way one would have to add fins or just use a regular surf board. Thanks for sharing your experience!

author
Advising+Elf made it!(author)2016-03-01

Oops. Just noticed you do it a little differently, so a little more explanation is in order.

We tied the board off to the coil spring/bumper, and held onto the ski rope handle, which is tied onto the board just above the tie-off rope. When you leaned back and pulled on the ski rope handle, it leveraged the board so the back would dig down into the current. The coil spring would bend (we tied it off sideways, not axially). You could then lean forward a little to release the load on the handle, and the board and you would do a little jump. It took some practice to not fall over the front when you did this. You were then free-floating on the stream for a bit, until the tie-off rope straightened, and you jerked back into the water, held on tight, and repeated the jump. You jumped farther the second time, because you dug deeper into the water. You had some speed going for you when you dug in the second time. You kept repeating (actually resonating) until you would finally be thrown forward off the board. There were times you would be leaning back on the board, holding on tight, and be completely under water before you would jump.

Many people used stretch-rope, but it cost too much, so we used the coil spring. It was awesome. You needed a strong back, though.

author
TxMoney13 made it!(author)2016-03-01

That is pretty freaking sweeeeet!!! I will be building one of these boards just for he hell of it, thanks for the idea!

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llamamake made it!(author)2016-03-01

You're welcome, I'm looking forward to seeing a picture of your result!

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ClenseYourPallet made it!(author)2016-02-29

That is awesome!! I'll be trying this soon. Thanks

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llamamake made it!(author)2016-02-29

np, you're welcome!

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Mimikry made it!(author)2016-02-29

good one! ...now I only have to wait for summer :)

You've got my vote!

author
llamamake made it!(author)2016-02-29

thank you, if you cant wait, a wetsuit is the way to go :)

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