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View Full Version : Cheap Safety Rope


melton1wake
10-12-2013, 01:16 AM
Let me start by saying this little idea maybe common knowledge but I had never heard or thought of it before and figured I would pass it on to all the safety concerned parents out there. My 6 year old started wakeboarding this summer and we have had a great time on the lake. With my daughter's new found love of wakeboarding came the concern of her getting tangled up in the rope during a fall or deep water starts. I have looked at several of the release systems but the manual ones will be released after most of the damage is done and the automatic one is very expensive. Then while doing some maintenance around the house it hit me to zip-tie two of the links together in the rope. Zip-ties come in a variety of tensile break strengths from 45lbs to over 200lbs and are very cheap. They also break very consistently and not violently at all, so you don't have to worry about people in the boat getting hit by little plastic pieces. My daughter is 55lbs and we are currently using a 50lb zip-tie but will probably step up to a 75lb tie next summer. The 50lb zip-tie holds her with ease but will break very quickly under the tension of her being dragged through the water or a sudden load being applied. I would much rather the rope break than tear off part or all of her arm. A 55lb girl casually riding does not need a rope with a tensile strength of 2000lbs to 4000lbs which is pretty standard for a wakeboarding rope. I take a 5ft section and attach it to my tower and then put in a zip-tie link attaching the rest of the rope. The zip-tie just acts and looks like a very weak link in a chain. This probably won't work for much older, heavier, more aggressive riders but then at that point, I hope you can examine the risks of the sport for yourself and have developed good rope and handle awareness and practices.

Let me know what you guys think about this idea and if it has been around for a while and I am just now figuring it out. I hope it's at least somewhat helpful and not a waste of space on this site.

FrankSchwab
10-12-2013, 01:55 AM
First time I've heard about the idea here, but it's a marvelous one.

In the Hang Gliding community (who learned it from the sailplane community), towing has been an excellent way to get airtime for 30 years. Attach a rope to an ultralight, or a truck, or a boat, and pull the glider up to 1000' or so and then release for a flight. All of those flights have a "weak-link" in the rope, designed to break if the stress on the rope gets too high due to some unforeseen circumstance. This is the same concept; it works excellent in the aviation community, and should work just as well here.

In general, the weak links are tied using something like leech line from sailing. The breaking strength is controlled by the knot - I've known people who could reliably adjust the breaking point of a weak link in 10 pound increments depending on what knot they tied.

While your daughter is small, zip ties will work great, but you may have to raise your breaking strengths a bit when she gets into adulthood, and this would be a great way to do it.

wallnut21
10-12-2013, 09:03 AM
I use this.

http://yourgearstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_29&products_id=109&zenid=9512c9ed6d16917a24cc350baecb743a

Works well for me.

tex
10-12-2013, 09:38 AM
If you use a trick release and the person pulling pin pays attention....your kid will be safe. I would trust a person a lot more than a gadget. This is from years of show skiing experience and I have put my arm through a handle and would not wish it on anyone.

Jerseydave
10-14-2013, 08:00 AM
I use this.

http://yourgearstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_29&products_id=109&zenid=9512c9ed6d16917a24cc350baecb743a

Works well for me.

Best solution right there. I'm getting one next year for Skyski tricks

Kweisner
10-14-2013, 09:36 AM
I use this.

http://yourgearstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_29&products_id=109&zenid=9512c9ed6d16917a24cc350baecb743a

Works well for me.

I believe this functions the same as a static line for a parachute drop. IIRC from my one and only static line jump, there were two overlapping velcro sections. Line became taught but the velcro held in order to pull the chute out. Once the chute was fully extended, the tension was great enough to break the velcro bond. Pretty reliable!

TxsRiverRat
10-14-2013, 10:15 AM
If you use a trick release and the person pulling pin pays attention....your kid will be safe. I would trust a person a lot more than a gadget. This is from years of show skiing experience and I have put my arm through a handle and would not wish it on anyone.

+1 on this... Tex speaks from experience - trick release... if safety is your concern, don;t go cheap on it - the medical bills are far higher than the cost of a release.

Don't even ask me how much i spent this year fixing my right arm due to an injury that took place 2 years ago (handle popped back into the boat and hit me)... Noone skis behind my boat ever again without a shock tube now. Seriously.

JMLVMI
10-14-2013, 11:16 AM
This is a bit harsh, but if you can afford a 2007 X2, you can afford an automatic rope release. Don't ever try to "rig something up" when it comes to safety. Take the time and money to do it right...it's your kid we're talking about.


Noone skis behind my boat ever again without a shock tube now. Seriously.

Shock tubes have a lifespan. Was observing in my buddies boat when a heavy guy who couldn't get out of the water popped the handle from 60' away and it came right at my head. If I hadn't been watching it would have been lights out. He had a shock tube on there, but it had no structure or "rigidity" left in the foam. Should be replaced every few years.

scott023
10-14-2013, 11:23 AM
+1 on this... Tex speaks from experience - trick release... if safety is your concern, don;t go cheap on it - the medical bills are far higher than the cost of a release.

Don't even ask me how much i spent this year fixing my right arm due to an injury that took place 2 years ago (handle popped back into the boat and hit me)... Noone skis behind my boat ever again without a shock tube now. Seriously.

This is a bit harsh, but if you can afford a 2007 X2, you can afford an automatic rope release. Don't ever try to "rig something up" when it comes to safety. Take the time and money to do it right...it's your kid we're talking about.



Shock tubes have a lifespan. Was observing in my buddies boat when a heavy guy who couldn't get out of the water popped the handle from 60' away and it came right at my head. If I hadn't been watching it would have been lights out. He had a shock tube on there, but it had no structure or "rigidity" left in the foam. Should be replaced every few years.

No kidding. If I was afraid for my kids safety, I'd spend the 75 or 100 bucks. Don't rely on a zap strap.

TxsRiverRat
10-14-2013, 11:37 AM
This is a bit harsh, but if you can afford a 2007 X2, you can afford an automatic rope release. Don't ever try to "rig something up" when it comes to safety. Take the time and money to do it right...it's your kid we're talking about.

Yep, my point exactly


Shock tubes have a lifespan. Was observing in my buddies boat when a heavy guy who couldn't get out of the water popped the handle from 60' away and it came right at my head. If I hadn't been watching it would have been lights out. He had a shock tube on there, but it had no structure or "rigidity" left in the foam. Should be replaced every few years.

No kidding. If I was afraid for my kids safety, I'd spend the 75 or 100 bucks. Don't rely on a zap strap.

thanks for the info! Mine's new, but there's no question it's a requirement now... i pulled Kyle the other day and he attached the rope to the pylon and i was like um no... we'll string it thru the tube... he said "i wont pop the handle..."

the shock tube did its job quite well when he launched the handle at us @ 32 off.

TeamAllen
10-14-2013, 01:33 PM
I'm glad you are doing something about rope safety. I started a group buy on the Comptech device a few months ago. It has been a great addition to our boat. A dealer I was working with wants to do another one, so make use of the savings when a deal like that comes along again to reduce the cost. A quality product will service all of the riders, on and in your boat, in addition to your daughter.

Another tip I learned was to make sure your handle floats or you could loose the rope and handle to the bottom of the lake. You can add a float to the end of the rope if needed.

TxsRiverRat
10-14-2013, 01:43 PM
Another tip I learned was to make sure your handle floats or you could loose the rope and handle to the bottom of the lake. You can add a float to the end of the rope if needed.

Aren't they designed to sink to avoid running over the rope/handle?

scott023
10-14-2013, 02:16 PM
thanks for the info! Mine's new, but there's no question it's a requirement now... i pulled Kyle the other day and he attached the rope to the pylon and i was like um no... we'll string it thru the tube... he said "i wont pop the handle..."

the shock tube did its job quite well when he launched the handle at us @ 32 off.

:uglyhamme :uglyhamme

melton1wake
10-14-2013, 11:53 PM
Thanks everyone for all your thoughts and opinions. I have spent some time thinking about this issue and here are some of my conclusions.

We are using a wakeboard rope with zero stretch so recoil into the boat is not an issue. I have never had a recoil issue with the rope in my 16 years of wakeboarding.

If you look at the amount of fatalities in the U.S. every year that can be traced back to human error, I am not that comfortable with the use of a device that requires the complete attention and instant action of another person. We also do not usually have someone on board that I would trust with such responsibility. These things happen in a split second and with my girl riding 10 to 15 minutes at a time, that is a long time not to break focus for a second. The manual release devices will probably work great if there are a bunch of seasoned skiers in the boat and your doing short slalom runs, but that is not what we are doing.

I bought a few different grades of Velcro and was experimenting with that as a release before I discovered zip-ties. It was very hard to get them to release consistently. Sometimes you would use too much and sometimes too little. Also how hard you press the Velcro together makes a difference and Velcro also losses it's strength with repeated use.

I am fortunate enough to be in a position in which I can buy a Comptech safety release and was headed in that direction just before I thought of zip-ties. The only problem with this device is the release starts at 100lbs, which is a bit more than my 55lb daughter needs. As she advances and gets bigger, we will purchase a Comptech release.

The reason I find the zip-ties an appealing choice is that they undergo a very uniform manufacturing process using a very uniform material. This enables them to break very consistently. I have purchased many bags and broken many zip-ties while experimenting and was impressed at how uniformly they will fail under consistent loads. They are also very cheap and have a wide range of tensile strengths. We are currently using the 50lb tie.

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts about this topic. I felt like I needed to explain myself a little because maybe some people out there thought I might be taking unnecessary risks with my daughter just to try to save a dollar. I have given much thought to this problem and done plenty of experimentation to draw these conclusions because I know that my daughter is at the end of that rope and she is priceless.

Table Rocker
10-15-2013, 06:23 AM
Maybe a trick release and a zip tie would be best for you. I would think a 50 pound tug on a little thumb or arm might be too much. Having the trick release would give the observer a chance to let it go before any pull and the zip tie would provide a backup.

TeamAllen
10-15-2013, 08:40 PM
Sounds good and you've got it all worked out.
Do you only tow your daughter? No other riders?

markmcfarland
10-15-2013, 09:17 PM
I thought it was a rather ingenious idea.

melton1wake
10-15-2013, 09:23 PM
My wife wakesurfs so there is no rope issue. I have about three guys plus myself that routinely wakeboard behind my boat but we are old enough to assess the risk for ourselves and also are not very likely at this point to get tangled up in the rope during deep water starts. Like I said the Comptech system will be a future purchase but until my daughter started riding it never even occurred to me or fellow wakeboarders I've spoken with that this is much of an issue at all. When I fall at 23mph the rope leaves me very quickly but at 13.5mph it looks like my daughter could fall into the handle before it is pulled out of range. It seems to me that this is much more of a sking risk or a wakeboarding risk where lots of rotation or inverts are going on. I do not fall into either of those categories. It just doesn't seem like these devices are on the wakeboard community's radar at all. Is that because falls into the rope never happen? I can't imagine they don't.

markmcfarland
10-15-2013, 09:31 PM
I have never seen one on any of the wakeboard boats around here. I would think they would be great for a tube. I am always scared someone is going to get slack in the rope and fall off in front of the tube.

TeamAllen
10-16-2013, 03:13 PM
Just to be clear. I think it is good that you are concerned with rope safety on your boat and are doing something about it. Thanks for sharing such a simple and inexpensive way.

I don't care if you use zip ties, sheer pins, velcro straps a manual or automatic trick release. I believe the rope is the most overlooked, dangerous item on the boat and am glad when another boat owner does something about it to avoid stories like these. I personally chose the Comptech. It has two drawbacks that I'm aware of. It's cost and not as transportable as other products. Other than that it the best, rope tension release, product on the market for rope safety IMO. You could use the zip ties in addition to the Comptech (or other) device for all around safety.

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050815/NEWS01/508150320
http://www.tigeowners.com/forum/showthread.php?11982
http://www.planetnautique.com/vb3/showthread.php?26259-Hyperlite-Saved-my-Arm
http://www.themalibucrew.com/forums/index.php?/topic/44241-closed-skyski-comptech-safety-trick-release/page-2?hl=comptech

melton1wake
10-17-2013, 04:33 AM
Those are some scary stories and exactly the type of thing we are trying to avoid. We are using a handle with a plastic insert for the kids so hopefully it will keep all body parts out. I also agree with you TeamAllen in just trying to be proactive and keeping safety on the water a priority. It would really suck to have something my family loves so much turn into a nightmare.