Drive ’Em Crazy EXPERT ADVICE FOR CREATING WILD TUBE RIDES



Just as science can be found in chaos, there’s an art to driving tubers. Sharp turns, multiple donuts and jammed throttles are nothing but gobbledygook on the water. A dazzling tube show takes finesse and creativity at the wheel. Nobody knows how to combine those skills like Tom and Stacey Reid, the husband-and-wife team whose company, Launch, creates the hair-raising Sportsstuff videos. Here’s how they turn simple tube rides into scenes good enough for a 30-minute thriller.

Driving Tip Building momentum in the tube is key. The only way to do that is to keep tension in the line, so stay on the throttle to avoid slack.



Lift Off! It sounds ridiculous when Stacey says, “I can get people hovering above the water for 200 yards.” But Stacey has created her own little textbook for this maneuver.

Boat direction: Head straight into the wind.

Speed: Once the tube is on plane, throttle up to 25 mph for kids, 30-32 mph for adults.

Rider tip: Ride on your stomach with your weight shifted as far back on the tube as possible, while pulling on the front handles.

Best tube: Use a round, deck-style tube.

Desired result: If the front of the tube is lifted slightly off the water at the beginning of the ride, the wind and boat speed will eventually create lift. Next thing you know, the tube is flying. It’s more of a horizontal flight than vertical.

Safety: Maintain a steady speed and a straight path. Any sudden movements could create an air shift, sending the rider into a splash landing.

Turning on the Air When it’s time to change direction, the Reids like to send tube riders high and wide.



Boat direction: Run straight into the wind and then hang a 90-degree right turn.

Speed: You’re cruising along at 25-30 mph. But just before the turn, slow down a little — only enough to keep the rope taut. Then speed back up at the end of the turn. Rider tip: Weight back, hands yanking the front handles.

Best tube: Big, round deck tubes or one seaters like the Sportsstuff Airman.

Desired result: When the boat turns and speeds up, the tube will gain forward momentum. As the tube turns it will be lifted on edge. It should hit the first wake, leave the water and easily clear the second wake.

Safety: The driver will be speeding up as the tube starts to fly. But as the tube lands you need to back off the throttle. Otherwise, the handles will get yanked from the rider’s grasp.

Touch and Go One of the old standbys for tube drivers is the donut run. Spin around in a circle and see if the rider can hang on. That’s fine, unless you’re sharing the lake with any other boaters. In that case, our expert drivers like to send tubers hopping back and forth behind the boat. “Riders like this a lot better than the donuts anyway,” says Stacey.



Boat direction: The key is to get the tube outside your wake right away. Do this by veering hard to the right, about 45 degrees out of a straight path. This pushes the wake to the left. Then turn back to the left. The tube should skate to the right side of the wake. Now you can have some fun.

Speed: There’s no need to push anything at this point. Two Absolutes Always have an observer on board, even if your boat is equipped with a rearview mirror. It’s next to impossible for the driver to keep track of a tube that’s zigging, zagging, bouncing and hovering.

Never drive more than 32 mph, and much slower than that in potential whips. Skipping a tube around at 50 mph seems like fun, and it is...until the rider gets tossed. Water isn’t very soft when you hit it at that speed. Just ask someone who’s separated a shoulder doing it.

That first turn is the only hard turn necessary. Now you can paint gradual S-turns at 25-30 mph. Adjust the throttle to keep slack out of the line.

Rider tip: As you hit the first wake, lift the handles and keep your weight back.

Best tube: A slick bottom, with little or no channel, like the Sportsstuff Chariots will slide fastest. If the rider is too heavy for the tube you won’t be able to get it outside the wakes.

Desired result: The tube, and not the boat, is carrying the momentum. Riders will be whipped, bounced and launched every time they cross the wakes.

Safety: Get a good look at the surrounding water. There shouldn’t be obstacles within 200 feet of the boat on any side.

*As seen in Boating Life, May 2002