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Wakesurfing – The Ultimate Guide
The ultimate mix of wakeboarding and surfing, wakesurfing is hitting headlines as it becomes one of the most popular watersports of all time. There’s nothing better than riding a wave but your chances can be severely limited if you don’t live near the sea or the ocean.
With wakesurfing, however, you can create your own waves, and hang loose on any body of water.
If you generally enjoy boating and watersports like water skiing and tubing, you might be looking to add another twist to your pastime. Learning how to wakesurf is an excellent choice.
Wakesurfing is similar in nature to other watersports where you are towed behind a boat. But there are some distinct differences and details that make wakesurfing a little different to learn.
We lay out all the important points of how to wakesurf that will help you get up and riding waves in no time.
What is wakesurfing?
Wakesurfing is a new watersports craze that is taking the world by storm. Wakesurfers use a specialized rope to position themselves behind a wakesurfing boat. All power boats create recirculating water behind them; this is known as the wake.
Depending on the speed, power, hull design, and weight, the boat’s wake can resemble small ripples or large waves, which are perfect for surfing on. The addition of weighted ‘ballasts’ placed appropriately within the boat are often used to enhance the boat’s wake and optimize the wake specifically for wakesurfing.
A wakesurfing rope is used to tow you behind the boat, but it isn’t the boat’s pull that keeps you going. Once you’re properly in position on the wake, the rope will begin to go slack and you’ll be propelled forward just by the power of the waves, or wake. As you grow in confidence, you’ll feel ready to drop the wakesurfing rope altogether and ride the waves solo.
How to wakesurf?
Whether you’re an experienced surfer, an intermediate wakeboarder or a complete novice, you can learn the art of wakesurfing in no time. Once you’ve gathered your wakesurfing gear together and you’re ready to hit the water, you’ll see just how easy it is to wakesurf.
You’ll use the wakesurfing rope to get in position behind the boat and lay the wakeboard so it’s perpendicular to the boat (or horizontal across the back of the boat). From this position, you’ll need to place both of your heels close to the edge of the board closest to you, with your leading foot nearest the nose of your wakesurfing boat.
When you’re ready, simply signal to the driver and they’ll start to gently accelerate. As the boat moves, the wakesurfing rope will become taught and begin to pull you through the waves. This resistance will push the wakesurfing board against your feet and you can dig in with your heels to press the board into the water and give you the leverage to stand. Don’t worry if this takes some practice!
We’ll get into more helpful tips on getting up on a wakesurf board below, but before you stand it’s helpful if you know what to expect. When you stand, adding pressure to your front foot will increase your speed and make the rope go slack. While adding weight to the back foot acts as a brake and keeps the rope tight.
Using the momentum, you can ride the wave and be propelled by the water, rather than pulled by the boat. You’ll know when this happens because the rope will become slack, despite the fact you’re still moving along nicely.
And that’s all there is to it! When you’re feeling stable on the board and you’ve got enough momentum going, you can drop the rope and ride the waves created by the wave without any extra support from the towline.
What wakesurfing gear do you need?
Learning how to wakesurf can be fun and easy, providing you have the right gear. As well as a very buoyant personal flotation device or PFD, a wakesurfing board, and perhaps a wetsuit, you’ll need a wakesurfing rope to get you started. Oh, and a boat.
Not really. While many keen wakesurfers do have their very own wakesurfing boat, this isn’t strictly necessary. As wakesurfing has become more popular, many watersports companies and boat owners provide dedicated wakesurfing boat hire.
As the size of the waves produced by the wake are essential to wakesurfing, using the right boat is important. When you hire a wakesurfing boat or book a session with an instructor, you can be sure that the power, speed, weight and hull shape will be perfect to create waves.
If you decide to invest in a wakesurfing boat, you’ll want to ensure that it fits the criteria for wakesurfing. While all powered boats will create wake, it won’t necessarily consist of the waves you need to wakesurf. By doing a little research, however, you can find a range of great options when it comes wake boats. Of course, you can always modify the wake produced by adding ballast to the boat and/or using a wake shaper to enhance the waves produced.
How to choose a wakesurfing board
The right board can make wakesurfing much more fun and a whole lot easier, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Wakesurfing boards are typically between 4.5-5.5ft, although you may seem some labelled small, medium or large.
There are no hard and fast rules when choosing a wakesurfing board, so it’s best to try a few out and see what feels best. In general, however, you’ll find that larger boards give more stability, so they’re often favored by beginners. Conversely, smaller boards are great for smaller wakes and may be best for smaller wakesurfers.
Your style of wakesurfing can also affect what board is best for you. If you prefer a surfing feel, you’ll want a longer wakesurfing board. Alternatively, a shorter, flat board will help you to achieve a skim style, which gives you more control and is excellent for doing tricks in the water.
Some wakesurfing boards also feature fins and many have removable fins, so you can modify your board to try out different styles. In addition to this, some boards have a swallow tail, which looks like a V in the back of the board. This can make it easier to turn, so it’s ideal if you want to perform tricks, increase control and gain maneuverability. You’ll also find that noseriders are a little different from standard wakesurfing boards because they have a wider nose, which allows you to stand closer to the nose of the board when you’re on the water.
With so many options to choose from, it can be trickier for inexperienced wakesurfers to find the right board straight away. By hiring a board or trying different models out, however, you’ll seen get a feel of what works best for you.
Wakesurfing rope and length
10mph is the optimal speed for a wakesurfing boat, although wakesurfers aim for anywhere between 8-13mph. The speed of the boat is vital for creating the perfect wake for surfing but the rope you use matters too.
Don’t use a standard towrope for wakeboarding, as it won’t give you the support or flexibility you need. Instead, choose a dedicated wakesurfing rope before you get in the water. A wakesurfing rope is usually shorter and thinner than a wakeboarding rope, as it makes it easier for you to maneuver on the water.
The optimal length will depend on the wake that’s being created but, ideally, you want to be right at the point where the wake is curling over.
To achieve this, it’s advisable to use a wakesurfing rope that’s around 15ft long. Although you should only need to use around 10ft of rope, the additional 5ft will give you extra room to maneuver. Plus, wakesurfing ropes typically have extra grips and knots throughout the rope itself. This allows wakesurfers to use as much of the rope as they need to, depending on the amount of wake produced.
How to stand
When you’re in position and ready to wakesurf, you’ll signal to the driver and they’ll power up the boat. Once you start moving, the board will be pushed towards you and you can use this leverage to get to a standing position.
As the boat accelerates, you’ll push down on your heels and feel the board pop out of the water beneath you. Rather than trying to pull yourself up, let the boat do the work and use its power to pull you up into a standing position.
If you have no experience with riding a surf board, snowboard, or something similar, then there are a few good tips worth trying to build confidence before standing. Initially, staying low will help to keep your center of balance more stable. Don’t worry, you’ll catch on fairly quickly. But attempting to jump right up into the full standing position can be a cause for frustration and cause repeated falls when you are just beginning.
As the board begins to sit atop of the waves, align your hip close to the handle of the wakesurfing rope so that the board is now facing in the same direction as the boat. Keeping your knees bent will give you extra stability and positioning your weight so that 60% is over your front foot will give you added control over your wakesurfing board.
Learning how to stand on a wakesurfing board can take some time but that’s half the fun. Once you’re standing up without losing your balance, you can begin to perfect your wakesurfing style and gain confidence on the water.
When you add pressure to your front foot, the board will pick up speed and there will be extra slack in the wakesurfing rope. At this point, you can throw the rope over the rooster tail so that it’s safely out of the way while you ride the wake.
Although you won’t want to be too close to the back of the boat, you can’t get too far behind the wake either or you risk losing the momentum of the wave. Instead, you’ll need to control your board so that you stay in the sweet spot of the wake and maintain your movement.
As you get more confident, you can begin to maneuver your board up and down the wave, picking up and dropping speed as you go. With a little experience, you’ll soon be ready to start practicing your wakesurfing tips and tricks!