That’s not a typo, but the mantra of the people behind the ZUP board, a new water toy that promises to let everyone get in on the fun of tow sports. Have someone in your crowd that never quite getzup on a wakeboard or skis? ZUP’s got you covered. Want that all-purpose water toy in the boat that lets young and old, skilled and unskilled alike have a good time without resorting to a tube? Dude, thatzzzzup!
Or at least so its inventors, Glen Duff and Tim Zeckser, hope. After outings with a church youth group showed them that not everyone masters the fun of skiing or wakeboarding, the pair decided to do what all good inventors do and design a better mousetrap, one that rolls the thrills of kneeboarding, skiing, and wakeboarding into one, while promising to shortcut the typical learning curve. After numerous prototypes, and some collaboration with a wakeboard pioneer, they brought to market the ZUP.
At first glance, the ZUP resembles a kneeboard…on steroids. It’s made from rotomolded plastic and features a kneeboard’s familiar oval shape and soft EVA top pad. But rather than a knee strap, the ZUP features dual foot straps. Their thick, cushiony surface works as an elbow rest when starting out laying on your stomach, a kneepad when the board is ridden like a kneeboard, and skier-like foot straps when a rider progresses to the standing position. Perhaps the board’s coolest feature, however, is the integrated tow-handle hook at the bow. Combined with molded-in side handles, it lets riders eliminate one of the most challenging elements for beginners — holding on to the towrope — by hooking the tow handle to the board and removing nearly all that stress from the upper body. That towrope's dual handles allow one bar to stay hooked to the board while leaving the other elevated above the surface so it’s easier to grasp. Once underway, riders can leave the handle tethered, or unhook and hang on in traditional skiing style.
As a lifelong skier and wakeboarder, I’m not exactly the board’s target audience. In fact, my initial ride left me somewhat frustrated as I tried to spin a 360 or slide the wake, only to unexpectedly catch an edge. I also noted significantly more drag than a kneeboard or skis, a fact that made carving the board back and forth in the standing position or getting outside the wake more of a workout than I expected. Only after reminding myself of the board’s simple, “everybody getzup” mission did I begin to see its true potential. Locking in the tow handle, and using the side grab handles, greatly simplify pulling yourself up to your knees. Leaving that towrope tethered also makes it far easier to get to your feet, after which you can simply reach down and unhook the handle. At every step of the way the board’s buoyant design and 27” width offers great stability.
In short, newcomers should find the board hits its target. But, even old-guy watersports dudes like me will find they can have some fun once they adjust their expectations. During my second ride I was quickly carving the ZUP from side to side within the wake, flicking cutbacks against the lip, taking my feet out of the straps and riding like a surfboard, even sitting down and piloting the board like a winter sled. I even rode backwards for a while, just for the heck of it.
Which, pretty much, sums up the mission of the ZUP. Conceivably almost anyone can find a way to have fun on it…and nobody is left on the sidelines.