Wake surfing is a lot of fun. There’s nothing like the thrill of launching off the wake and grabbing air for the first time or carving a big line on glassy water. Wakesurfing is like a mix of snowboarding and surfing; it’s a shortboard sport designed for high-performance turning, wild airs, and plenty of excitement.
People started water skiing back in the 50s and 60s, with wakeboarding coming about as an innovation to the sport. Wakeboarding is much different from skiing, giving you the riding style of snowboarding or surfing, using a leading foot instead of a parallel stance.
Wake surfing allows riders to launch off the wake and create huge carves using the length of the rope. If you’re down at the lake watching other people rail slide and launch off ramps, maybe it’s time to give it a try?
Wakesurfing isn’t as challenging as you think. With the right equipment, some good instruction, and a lot of practice, you’ll be shredding with the locals in no time. Here is our brief guide on how to wake surf.
- Can You Wakesurf with Any Boat?
- Setting the Boat Up for Wakesurfing
- Wakesurfing Equipment
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Wakesurfing
- How to Wakeboard Responsibly
- How to Wakesurf – Key Takeaways
Can You Wakesurf with Any Boat?
Before we start, we have to understand the components of wake surfing and how they influence the experience of the sport. The type of boat and its power makes a big difference when wake surfing. Typically, you’ll need a vessel that can move fast but offers plenty of maneuverability.
Good examples of the right types of boats for wake surfing involve the center console and bay boat designs., These boats are highly maneuverable on the water, allowing fast turns and plenty of speed. Wakesurfing on a bass boat is a no-go, but you can do it with a jet ski with the right equipment and PWC handling skills.
Setting the Boat Up for Wakesurfing
When you’re wake surfing, you want to keep the boat’s nose up during acceleration. This affects the positioning of the propellers in the water, allowing for a bigger wake. Bigger wakes mean bigger ramps for launching airs and other tricks.
To keep the weight in the rear of the boat, many boat owners load additional weight just behind the motor to create the required lifting effect. There are specialized wake surfing motors and boat designs that allow adjustment of the ballast in the hull according to your boating requirements.
If you’re purchasing a boat without a dedicated wakesurfing design, the chances are that it comes with a standard propeller. Manufacturing brands design and build props to cut through the water a fast and efficiently as possible to create the necessary propulsion and performance to drive the boat or watercraft.
However, the thing is that manufacturers are more inclined to produce props that limit the wake produced by the engine.
Big wakes are inefficient to make, and they create more drag in the water for the boat. If you’re thinking about using your boat for wakesurfing primarily, then look into getting a dedicated wakesurfing prop for your motor.
This prop features a dedicated design for producing larger wakes behind the engine. As a result, you get big wakes and plenty of ramp size for professional wakeboarders and those that have and passion for the sport and want to take it to the next level.
The wakesurfing rope is the lifeline to the watercraft pulling you through the water. Lose the rope, and you lose momentum, coming to a dead stop. While you can pretty much use any rope for towing, there are specialized ropes available for waterskiing, tow surfing, and wake surfing.
These ropes feature elasticated materials for the rope’s design, offering better resilience in the fabrics comprising the weave. As a result, you get a longer service life and more “whip” in the rope, which is great for pulling you out of large carves and onto a ramp for a launch.
Choose a rope with an ergonomic handle offering you a comfortable and firm grip. When you’re setting up the rope to the wake tower on the boat, loop it around the top to the length you want.
The ideal length of the rope is between 15-feet to 25-feet, depending on your ability. The longer the rope, the more distance you have from the wake tower, and the harder the whip when carving corners.
- 25' with 5 Removable Sections - Makes it easy to set up perfect for your boat and wave
- 10" Floating Hide Handle with Embroidery - Ultimate Comfort
- 5/8" Floating Rope - The entire rope is designed to stay on top of the water to make sure it stays out of harms way
- Braided - The first 6' is braided thick, to allow you to pull yourself into the perfect spot of the wave every time, comfortably, and without the risk of getting your hands or fingers caught in the rope.
- 7" Foam Floats
When you start wakesurfing, getting lost in excitement when equipment shopping is easy. We get it; choosing your gear is one of the most fun aspects of wakesurfing. Looking at the different board designs, wetsuits, and ropes can seem intimidating at first.
However, after spending some time reading up about your equipment and watching a few YouTube videos, you’ll have plenty of experience with what to look for when choosing the right gear. If we have one overall tip for you, it’s this; Choose gear that’s slightly outside of your budget range.
Good gear lasts a lifetime, and you won’t have to upgrade as soon, allowing you to save for better equipment when you decide to upgrade your kit.
When it comes to choosing the right wakesurfing board, you essentially have two styles available. You have the option of going with a traditional surfboard or with a dedicated wakeboard.
The traditional surfboard is better suited for people from a surfing background. Unless you’re a surfer, we recommend using the dedicated model instead. The reason is that the surfboard won’t have foot straps.
It’s also a single-direction design, and they don’t offer the same level of variation for riding goofy or regular. The wakeboard comes with a thinner, sleeker design for reaching speed on the water while remaining maneuverable.
Beginner wakeboards are typically wider in the center, offering the rider more stability during turns. Pro boards are thinner, allowing for faster rotation, direction change, and sharper turns.
Beginner wakeboards have thicker rails, allowing for stability during turns, while pro boards have thinner rails for better turning and handling on wakes.
- Molded-in Fins
- Continuous Rocker
- Forgiving 6 Degree Edge Bevel
- V Bottom Tunnel
- Monocoque Construction
Life Jackets for Wakesurfing
Remember to take your life jacket before you grab your board and head out onto the lake for your first session. The life jacket is your last line of defense against accidents in the water.
If you come off the board and faceplant into the water at high speed, the force of the impact is sometimes enough to knock you unconscious. Floating face-down in the water unconscious means you’ll eventually drown and sink.
As a result, people won’t find you when they loop back to collect you. There are specialized life jackets available for wakesurfing that don’t cause any reduction in your range of motion, movement, and they are quite comfortable.
You might see the pros riding without a lifejacket, and that’s fine. They’re experienced, and they choose to assume the risk because they believe they have the skillset to avoid injury during a fall. However, as a beginner, you don’t have their experience or skillset. So, wear your life jacket.
A helmet is an optional extra. Considering a hard crash could injure your skull and brain, it’s an option worth considering to keep you safe while you’re learning the ropes of the sport.
- USCG Approved Personal Flotation Device; Perfect for Wake Sports, Waterskiing, Tubing, and Swimming
- Segmented Foam Core And Anatomical Flex Points Allow Unrestricted Movement
- Quick Release Safety Buckles And Heavy Duty Front Zipper Create an Unparalleled Sense of Security
- Minimal Bulk Design Allows Full Mobility, While Expansion Panels Enable a Comfortable Fit
- Relaxed Fit For The Water Sports Enthusiast Who Wants Some Room To Move
A Step-by-Step Guide to Wakesurfing
Here is our step-by-step guide to learning to wakesurf the right way.
Goofy or Regular?
Before you get on the board, you need to decide if you are natural or goofy-footed. If you stand on the board, which direction feels natural to you?
If you lead with your left leg, you are a regular foot, and if you lead with the right, you are a goofy foot. Most people find they have a dominant leg as a beginner.
However, the people that get really good at the sport learn to ride front-side and back-side equally well.
Now that you have your feet and direction in place, it’s time to hit the water and stand up on the board for the first time.
When the driver pulls back on the throttle, lock your knees out and feel the force lift your heels as it draws your body out of the water.
Bend your knees while still distributing 80% of the weight to your back foot as you rise. Change the weight distribution to 60% on the back foot as you get up to speed. The more pressure you put on the back foot, the more of a braking effect created by the board.
To turn the board, you’ll dig your toes into the rial on the side of the board in the direction you want to shift. You’ll also slightly lean into the turn to travel in the left or right direction. The trick is to learn to get your body as flat and parallel to the water as possible during turns as you get better.
Find the sweet spot on the board for making your turns and straight cruising, and start practicing snaps on the rope, going over the back of the wake. You can also start learning to ride the wake on the right or left side of the boat. Typically, you’ll need to be facing the wake to lead with your dominant foot.
How to Do Pump Tricks
After you get the hang of snapping on the rope and moving your weight across the deck of the board, it’s time to start learning pump tricks. A pump trick is where you use a movement to help you generate speed or bounce in a launch.
After learning how to complete pump tricks, you can start moving on to doing airs, and that’s where the fun really begins. Here are our top tips for helping you master pump tricks. When you’re riding for a pump, you’re doing it without the rope.
As a result, you’re learning to ride the wake, using it to drive the board forward. That’s where the concept of wake “surfing” comes into the name of the sport. You’re essentially surfing the wake instead of relying on the tow rope for momentum.
- Place the weight on your back foot as you approach the wake, and put some slack into the rope.
- Let go of the rope and place weight on your front foot to enter the wake and move down it towards the motor.
- Place more weight on the back foot to slow you down.
- Use your hips and legs, transferring the weight from the rear to the front foot while moving your upper body upwards in a thrusting motion to create the pumping effect.
- This skill helps you generate speed on the wake, allowing you to set up tricks like airs and 360s.
Going for your first air is one of the most thrilling aspects of wakesurfing. Find the sweet spot on the board and drift back far enough on the wake to allow for three good pumps on the face of the wake.
Make a big bottom turn on the final pump and come up to the lip of the wake at around a 45-degree angle.
As your front leg leaves the wake, push back with your heel to create the spring you need for the launch into the air. Keep your legs bent but balanced enough so that you don’t take the spring out of the launch.
When landing, keep your hips centered and your balance distributed slightly more to the front before transitioning back to even weight distribution and riding out.
Intermediate to Advanced Tricks
Practicing your pumps to perfection is the best way to build the platform you need to start advancing your trick repertoire. After you master the art of generating speed on the wake, you can start throwing out tricks.
Getting better with tricks is all about understanding the relationship between your feet placement, your knees, hips, and the direction of your shoulders. It’s different for everyone, and every rider develops a unique style.
Practice, Practice, and More Practice
There is one simple secret to getting better at wakesurfing – practice! Practice is the only way to develop the fine motor movements and responses we receive when participating in the sport.
You might struggle with it for hours, days, or weeks, and then all of a sudden- everything clicks into place, and you’re up and riding.
Progressing with the sport is just a matter of spending time on the board. The more you practice, the better you get.
How to Wakeboard Responsibly
Learning the etiquette for the sport comes hand in hand with learning how to get up and ride. If there are other people out on the water, you need to know how to behave to avoid causing accidents.
Learning to wake responsibly means that you care about other people’s experiences in the water as much as you do your own. Being courteous to others ensures that everyone enjoys their time out on the water.
Don’t Repeat Your Passes
We all like the calm, protected waters of the shoreline at the lake, so let’s keep them that way. Don’t drive past the same path near the shore. The repetitive motion of the props cutting through the water will damage docks and shores.
Keep the Music Down
We all love being out on the water without friends, and there’s nothing like a little music to add to the situation’s atmosphere. However, some boats come with outlandish stereo systems featuring loud speakers.
The last thing you want to do is ruin everyone else’s time out on the lake. It might seem like you could just stop caring about other people, but you’ll find boating communities are tight-knit groups, and they’ll think your behavior makes you look like a jerk.
Stay within 200 Feet of Shore
When you’re moving at speeds of 15-mph to 20-mph, you cover distance faster than you think. Accidentally losing the grip on the rope and launching into a dock is going to result in a trip to the emergency room and a funny story to tell your friends.
However, if you want to avoid a calamity on the water, stay at least 200-feet from the shore. This strategy helps you avoid docks and other submerged items under the water that are closer to the shoreline. Keep your movement as close to the center of the lake as possible.
How to Wakesurf – Key Takeaways
- Start with the right boat – Choose a sporty boat with plenty of maneuverability and a bog motor for producing large wakes.
- Choose the right board to suit your experience – look for boards offering more stability than performance.
- Get yourself a wakesurf specific rope.
- Understand the need for adjusting the ballast system in the boat, weigh down the boat if necessary.
- Tell the driver to keep the speed between 15-mph and 10-mph.
- Lay back onto the board when the rope starts pulling.
- Keep your knees net and lean into the pull until you’re up and riding.
- Practice moving from one rail to the other and transferring the weight to the front and rear of the board.
- Practice your wakesurfing skills as often as possible to improve your performance.