Several decades ago, the calm waters of lakes were known to offer only a limited number of sport and recreational activities. People who go there were mostly looking for either nice beaches for swimming or picnicking quiet fishing spots, or relaxing kayaking destinations. However, much has changed since then, and the once tranquil waters of many lakes are now also home to motor-powered watercraft like jet skis and wake surf boats.
Wakesurfing is a relatively young sport, but it has been strongly gaining popularity over the last few years. Although it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when or how this whole surfing behind a boat started, suffice to say that the sport’s birth was based on the following premise: “If you can’t find a wave, then make one.”
Creating the Ideal Wake
Many beginning wakesurfers are lead to think that having the best wakesurfing board is enough to ensure an exciting wakesurfing experience. However, your board is only one part of the equation. Without a great wake to surf, your board is practically useless.
How Are Wakes Produced?
Wakes are produced as a boat slices through the water. As the boat moves forward, its hull (and aftermarket attachments like wake shapers and others) displaces the water in its path, therefore creating an endless wave behind it which the wakesurfer then rides after letting go of the tow rope.
What’s Makes an Ideal Wake?
The description of an ideal surfing wake will vary depending on what type of wakesurfing you intend on doing.
For skim style wakesurfers, the ideal wake would be long and less steep with trick-saving pockets that go all the way to the end like the ones produced by bow-weighted boats. On the other hand, a surf style wakesurfer would prefer taller, steeper, and more powerful waves like those generated by stern-weighted boats.
So How Do You Create the Ideal Wake?
As you may have gleaned from the paragraphs above, producing the ideal wake for surfing depends largely on your wakesurf boat. The way you set it up and weight it will be crucial to creating the perfect wake that offers the best possible wakesurfing adventure.
So how do you set up and weight your boat so that it generates those awesome wakes all (or at least most) of the time? To get started, you need to make sure that you’re using the right type of boat in the first place.
All types of boats, from glamorous luxury yachts to gigantic logistic ships, create wakes as they move over the water. However, not all types of boats are capable of generating ‘surf-able’ wakes, and some types of boats are simply better or more suitable for wakesurfing than others. So if you’re planning to buy a wakesurf boat (or perhaps rent one for testing before committing to a purchase), you’ll want to get either an inboard direct drive boat or an inboard V-drive boat.
- Inboard Direct Drive Boats – These types of wakesurf boats have their engines installed at the center of the boat.
- Inboard V-drive Boats – The engine on this type of wakesurf boat is positioned toward the back of the boat or the stern. Aside from freeing up space in the seating area, this position adds weight to the rear end of the boat which helps to boost the boat’s wakes.
Remember that it is very important to use only inboard boats when wake surfing. You should never, ever surf behind an outboard board. This is because the propellers on inboard boats are tucked neatly away under the boat, whereas the propellers on outboard boats are exposed behind them.
Regarding safety, the propeller placement makes inboard boats safer since the wakesurfer is far less likely to come in contact with the propeller if he or she falls into the water. On the other hand, an outboard boat with an exposed propeller puts the rider in a rather dangerous position which can lead to very serious injuries or even a gruesome death.
Factory Ballasts and Upgrades
If you want to make a bigger surf wave behind your boat, you’ll want your boat to ride lower in the water. The deeper the boat rides, the more water it will displace therefore creating larger waves. Many modern wakesurf boats are specially designed to ride lower in the water thanks to the factory ballasts systems installed in them by the manufacturers.
However, many wakesurfers and wakesurf boat owners feel that a factory ballast system isn’t enough to create the desired wakes for surfing. In such cases, they have factory ballast upgrades installed to enhance the effect of the boat’s factory ballast system.
These upgrades are integrated into the boat’s existing ballast system and connected to a switch in the boat’s dashboard. Using the switch, the boat driver can conveniently fill the ballast upgrades with water or drain them if need be. Some factory ballast upgrades are easy to install, and the installation can be completed in a matter of hours. If you prefer, you can bring your boat to a service center certified by your boat manufacturer and have them install the upgrades for you.
Still, despite the factory ballast system and upgrades, some people are left wanting for bigger wakes to surf. This is where ballast bags come in.
Ballast bags are used to add more weight to the boat, and this increase in weight makes the boat ride lower in the water and displace more water to create larger wakes. When it comes to using ballast bags, here are some things you’ll need to consider.
- Keep in mind the personal preferences of the wakesurfer. For instance, a skim surfer will want wakes that slightly flatter while surf-style surfers will prefer wakes that are larger and steeper.
- To lengthen and smoothen the wakes, place more ballast bags at the back of the boat and distribute the remaining ballasts towards the front. Adding ballast bags in the back will create a low-riding effect on your boat, and thus allow it to create bigger wakes.
- More weight in front of the boat allows it to generate lower but longer wakes, while putting more weight at the stern makes for higher but shorter wakes.
- Check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the amount of weight that the wakesurf boat can carry. Never exceed the suggested weight limit.
- Remember that the weight of a direct drive boat is centralized in the middle because of the engine’s placement. If you’re going to add ballast bags on these types of boats, you’ll want to put the bags directly behind the engine to increase the weight on the back of the boat.
- In the case of V-drive boats where the engine is positioned at the stern, you’ll want to place the ballast bags next to the engine on the side that you are going to wakesurf. You can add more bags (still on that side) if you want to, placing the bags under or on the seats.
- Never transport your wakesurf boat with the ballast bags in it. The extra weight of the ballasts can affect road-handling and burn more fuel. Plus, it may damage the trailer bearings.
Remember that each boat is set up differently, so don’t expect to get the perfect ballast bag configuration and placement immediately. It makes take a few trial and error and some experimenting before you finally get it right.
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People Are Ballasts, Too
Before you start throwing those ballast bags into your boat, consider the number (and collective weight) of passengers you’ll be bringing aboard. Sometimes, you’ll find that if you have enough people on board, you may not need to load your boat with all the ballast bags anymore. Remember, the purpose of adding ballast bags to your boat is to make the boat sit lower in the water, and the same effect can be achieved if you’ve got several friends joining you on the boat.
If you do have other people in the boat with you, then you should tell them where they should sit to produce the best wake possible. In some boats, you can let them sit evenly throughout the boat and still get a decent wage. In other boats, you may want to let all your passengers (or at least most of them) sit on one side of the boat for the best effect.
Wherever you let your passengers sit, be sure that they are comfortable and safe. You don’t want anyone falling off the boat while you’re speeding in the water, do you?
Wake shapers can also be used to improve the wakes generated by the boat. In fact, some wakesurf boat owners swear that they’re able to generate longer and taller wakes when using these wake shapers in conjunction with the ballasts.
Wake shapers are pretty easy to use, too. You don’t need to drill holes in your beloved boat since these are detachable installations that are attached to your boat using Velcro and shims or suction cups. Just remember to install these wake shapers on the opposite side of the boat where you want to create the wake.
Globo Surf Overview
Wakesurfing is an exciting and awesome sport, and to get the most of your wakesurfing experience, you’ll want to make sure that your wake surf boat is properly set up for the ride. All the elements mentioned earlier like the type of boat, the weight, and other add-ons and gears are necessary to create the ideal wake for surfing. Taking these factors into consideration, and by following the tips outlined above, you are more likely to create the perfect wake every time.