Tips by David Ngiam
Video : David Ngiam
Photo : Thomas Pichoir
Wake Surfing started out way before wakeboarding started when a couple of surfers decided to catch some waves on those flat days at the beach. However, it has grown to be a sport of its own and has shared elements of surfing, skim boarding & wake skating.
Before you begin, you will need a boat to surf behind (obviously). I strongly recommend surfing only behind inboards where the propeller is located under the boat and not behind outboards and I/Os. where the prop is located at the rear of the boat. You will be surfing pretty close to the back of the boat and the last thing you want is to fall in and get caught up in the prop. It won’t be a pretty sight. Also, you want to load up on the side of the boat you will be surfing behind. As a boat driver, you can either drive straight, or, if the wake is not big enough, you can drive in circles with the surfer on the inside wake. However, I find driving in circles tend to shorten the sweet spot of the wave quite a bit, thus limiting your maneuverability. Wakesurfing speed is also a lot slower than wakeboarding. The speed should be between 7-10 mph, depending on how big your wake is. The slower the speed, the bigger the wake will be, but too slow and it will eventually get washy.
You will also need a line that stretches about 10′ behind the boat. You can attach a wakeboard handle to the line for better grip but be careful not to get caught in the handle when you fall. I’ve got my arm yanked before when it went through the handle as I fell into the water. I actually prefer to use a thick rope with a notch at the end instead. Its safer and it doesn’t get in the way as much.
Before you get up, you will need to decide which side of the wake you want to surf on. Generally, I find it easier to surf frontside, ie, your chest is facing the wake when you are standing on the board.
Next, you will need a wakesurf board or a regular surfboard. If you have a wakesurf board (which is generally shorter and thinner than a regular surfboard), the method of getting up is the same as a wakeskate. Start out by resting both feet on the board. Don’t attempt to put the board under your feet in the water as the board will probably be too buoyant. Instead, once your feet are in place, lie back in the water and relax. Wearing a life vest will help keep your upper body afloat. Next, have the driver start out the boat slowly and the board will stick to your feet. The rest of it is pretty much the same as getting up on a wakeboard.
If you’re using a regular surfboard, you could try getting up like a wakeskate if its not too big. But if its 7′ or longer, you probably want to lie forward, flat on the board first (like how a surfer would paddle out on a surfboard) and as the boat pulls you, get to the outside of the wake and get up on your feet with the rope still in hand. If you’re confident enough, you could also toss the line while still lying flat on the surfboard and pop up on to your feet like surfers do.
Once your up on the board, head to the outside of the wake. Try surfing around and get comfortable with the wake and speed with the rope still in hand. When you’re ready, its to catch the wake which we will explain in the next tip.