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Wakesurfing has taken watersports by storm and is quickly growing into one of the most exciting and challenging sports behind a boat. Originally conceived by surfers in the early 60s and 70s, many people thought they could simply ride a surfboard behind a boat. It was not until the last decade that boat and board designs have allowed the progression of wakesurfing to reach new heights. Tow boat manufacturers are now designing boats specifically for wakesurfing. Regardless of what boat you are driving, it's important to setup your boat properly for wakesurfing.
The first thing to understand about building the perfect wake is how the wake is produced in the first place. A wake is created as the boat moves through the water; the boat's hull displaces water, and the water returns to where it previously was. This constant flow of water creates an "endless" wave moving in the direction of the boat. The general rule of thumb is more weight in the front of the boat creates a shorter wake in height but a longer wake in length, and vice versa if there is more weight in the back. With wakesurfing, only one side of the wake is being surfed. To increase the wake’s size on either side of the boat, you need to increase the amount of weight on that side of the boat.
To create the perfect wave for wakesurfing, you are going to need to add some weight to your boat. Ballast can come in many forms, from ballast tanks integrated into the hull of your boat, to physical weights, or ballast bags that you fill with water.
Wakeboarding and wakesurfing-specific boats come with factory ballast systems. These systems let you fill and change ballast on the fly, and with some boats, you do not even need to add any additional ballast on top. That said, the factory ballasts in your surf boat are not always enough to create a great wakesurfing wake. So, to create a wake big enough and consistent enough to wakesurf behind, you might still need to use additional ballast weight.
Adding ballast bags to your boat helps it sit lower in the water, especially on the side you will be surfing on. Ballast bags can have a huge effect on your wake as well as the way your boat drives, so before you decide to invest in them, determine how much additional ballast you need and where you need it. An optimal wakesurfing wake will generally include most of the ballast weight in the back corner with smaller amounts of ballast distributed towards the front to lengthen and smooth out the wake. Never trailer your boat with ballast in it. The extra weight on your trailer will affect road handling, burn more fuel, wear out tires, and may cause failure of the trailer bearings.
Each boat is set up differently, and it might require some trial and error before finding those sweet spots in your boat, but once you do, it will create a bigger wake that is easier to surf. Also, keep in mind the personal preference of each rider, for example, skim-style surfing usually involves a slightly flatter wave than surf-style.
Wake shapers are perhaps the easiest, best way to improve your boat's wake, especially when used in conjunction with ballast. And they are incredibly easy to use, too. Attached to your boat's stern via velcro or suction cup, their angled shape is designed to displace water for a crisper, cleaner, bigger wake. Like ballast, there is likely some trial and error involved before finding the ideal placement for your wake shaper. In most cases, it is also incredibly easy to change the placement from one side of the boat to the other for a right or left break.
Just because you went out and bought a wakesurfing board does not mean you can get behind any boat and give it a try. The most important rule you need to know about wakesurfing is only wakesurf behind inboard direct drive boats or inboard V-drive boats. Inboard wakeboard boats are a necessity for this sport as the propeller is under the boat, and it is far less likely to make contact the rider. Never wakesurf behind a boat with an exposed propeller.
With all water sports and boating activities proceed with caution. We are not recommending or advising any of these activities just providing product information.
Extreme Boat Sports