Waksurfing has been a trendy activity, dramatically picking up in popularity over the last several years. But what’s wakesurfing anyway? Wakesurfing involves specially designed surfboards that are able to surf the wake that’s produced by the back of the boat.
Much like wakeboarding, wakesurfers are initially towed by a rope to get up to speed. Once a sufficient wake has been developed, the rider lets go of the rope and then continues to surf the wake.
This isn’t an easy task, though. There are a handful of factors that go into whether or not someone will be able to wakesurf behind a boat. And what are those factors, you may ask? They’re mainly concerned with the boat and conditions generated by said boat. Listed below, we’ll go into what those factors and conditions are and how the wake is affected.
The ballast is a compartment within a boat that stores water or other heavy objects. Usually concentrated towards the rear of the boat, the added weight creates more drag in the water and thus, produces a higher wake.
There is a happy medium, though. Too much weight and the boat will be dramatically slow. Additionally, you’ll use more gas, equating to less riding time. Each boat is different, so you’ll need to experiment with the layout and what works best for your fuel economy, as well as, wake size.
There are weights that are specifically made for allowing greater flexibility on where to distribute the weight. They’re called fat sacks or ballast bags. They can range in weight from 300 to over 1,000 pounds. For optimal wake, place the weights towards the back and to the corner for which you’ll be wakesurfing.
This factor is perhaps more associated with safety, as the motor on these types of watercraft are under the boat itself. This prevents any injuries from the outboard motor. Because you’ll be wakesurfing very close to the back of the boat, you want to be sure that you’re not going to get a gnarly injury from making contact with the propeller.
Inboard motors can be found on a variety of boats, but they’re mainly a feature on wakeboarding and skiing boats, which are the perfect boats for wakesurfing. The presence of an inboard motor isn’t crucial for wakesurfing, it’s just more of a safety precaution. You don’t want your first ride to be your last!
Not all boats are equal. This is true for all types of boating across the spectrum. There are boats for cruising, racing, sporting, and fishing. Ultimately, you’re going to need a boat that produces a wake and can hit certain speeds.
Now, there’s certainly some crossover in the ability of particular types of boats, so that’s something you’ll need to take into consideration. The cruising and sporting boats are going to be your best option as they are hydrodynamic, lightweight (relatively), and allow for the production of a highly surfable wake.
Other varieties like racing boats don’t have the capacity to tow, while pontoon boats can’t generate enough speed and/or wake. Other factors to consider are where specifically you’ll be wakesurfing. The depth that the boat sits in the water makes a difference, especially if you’ll be going on a river. Just something to take into consideration.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to create a clean and crisp wake behind a boat, a wake shaper is a simple device that attaches to the boat’s stern via Velcro or some other method, such as suction cups.
If the boat you have isn’t generating a surfable wake with ballast bags alone, then this is something that you might want to consider purchasing. They do range in price and can get expensive (approximately $50 to $400), so please do your research. They can be ridiculously effective, though. And hey, it keeps you from having to pile everyone on the boat to one side! A good investment if you ask me.
While the tow rope is only needed to initially get going, how it’s connected and how it’s designed are very important for a couple of reasons. First, the rope will need to be a specific length to be able to wakesurf adequately, so where it’s attached on the boat is something that can’t be overlooked.
You’ll more than likely need to purchase a wakesurfing tow rope because skiing and wakeboarding ropes are too long. Having to tie one of these ropes to shorten it can be dangerous for the wakesurfer if it comes undone.
Secondly, wakesurfing tow ropes are thinner and have extra knots and grips throughout so that you’re able to better position yourself on the best possible location of the wake. So, do yourself and those who will be wakesurfing a favor and purchase a wakesurfing tow rope. You’re making it a safer situation and increasing the likelihood of being more successful behind the boat.
As you can see, there are a handful of factors that go into whether or not you can wakesurf behind a boat. Some conditions are created directly by the boat itself, while others are modifications to help generate a better wake. Either way, it’s vastly important to
Every boat is different so you might need to experiment with different modification orientations to get the best results. Nonetheless, if you do your research and take all of these factors into account, then there will be many fun times out on the boat moving forward!