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I had a 1976 15 ft checkmate. Low sides. It was rated at 100 hp. A 100hp in those days was pretty big. My 90 was a 6 cal merc. Todays motors are much smaller for the same ratings. A 75-90 3 cyl should work nicely and be safe.
One of the biggest problems I hear from new kneeboarders is that they have a really hard time getting up on the board. There are two methods that I think will help you to get up faster and spend less time falling down.
The first method you start by laying on your stomache on the board while the driver of the boat starts the boat slowly. You want to keep your head slightly up with your arms bent and your forearms on the board. When the driver starts moving the boat it will pull you up, once you have picked up a little speed you want to pull yourself up all the way to your knees with your nose aligned with the end of the board. If you find that the board is jumping you are either too far down on the board or the boat is going too fast.
When you feel that you are ready to get all the way up, grab the tip of the board while still holding the handle and quickly pop up. If you don't get all the way up by popping like this you can inch your way up slowly.
The second method is to start out on your knees. This way can be very difficult for a beginner so if you don't have good balance you might want to stick with trying the first method.
Start in the water with the board in front of you, grabbing the tip force the board under water and under your knees. Keeping the board under you, make sure to keep the board parallel to the water until the rope has been pulled tight, then you want to lean back just a little so that the tip comes up. Once you are balanced and up on your knees you are ready to go.
It is recommended that you practice this maneuver in a practice pool or in shallow water before getting into open water with a boat.
start on your stomach. the driver should start to pull slowly, not fast like with a skier/wakeboarder. while you are going slowly on your stomach, plant your elbows and gradually pull your knees up and into the knee indentations