Wakesurfing has exploded onto the wake scene in a big way. What started in the 1950s with a couple of guys goofing around on longboards behind their boat has become one of the fasting growing watersports on the planet - Wakesurfing.
To get in on the wakesurfing action here are a few tips.
Boat: Only wakesurf behind an inboard boat. Common brands of inboard boats are Tige, Malibu, Correct Craft, Mastercraft, Centurion, Calibria, Supra, Moomba and others. The prop on inboard boats is usually about 2ft or so in front of the rudder, well away from any chance of falling and making mincemeat of your hand, foot, face, or other body part while wakesurfing.
Rope: Get a wakesurf specific rope. A wakeboarding rope is thin and will likely leave you with a nasty case of rope burn. Wakeboarding handles are big and I've heard stories of people getting their leg or arm caught in the handle when falling. Not fun. Wakesurf ropes are typically thicker and sometimes have a small handle or T-bar, sometimes not. Some ropes have knots to help you pull yourself into the "sweet spot" of the wake.
Ballast: Getting the wake dialed is critical to having a successful wakesurfing session. For most boats that means utilizing any built in ballast system along with several fat sacs. Generally, you want get as much weight as possible to one side of the boat, with most of the weight towards the back. Be sure not to exceed the manufacturer's maximum weight specifications when wakesurfing.
Board: People originally used ocean surfboards, but now over 15 companies make wakesurf specific surfboards. Do yourself a favor and get a board specific to wakesurfing. It will make the learning curve easier and you'll be having fun faster. There are two styles of boards - "surf" and "skim". Surf style boards usually have two or more fins towards the tail of the board and look like mini surfboards. Skim style boards usually have one center fin in the back and possibly a small fin in the front. Surf style boards are good for aggressive carving and catching air. Skim style boards are usually easier to spin and do shuv-its.
Speed: Most people wakesurf around 10mph, but sometimes as slow as 9mph and as fast as 13mph depending on the hull, length of the boat, and amount of ballast. Additionally, each board has an ideal speed depending on length and rocker. I have one board that I like to ride at 9.8 and another that I like to ride at 10.2mph.
OK - so now you are saying - "Enough with the "basics" mumbo jumbo. Let's get on to riding!" So, let's get to it.
Getting Up: Standing up on the board is easier than it looks. Lay back in the water with your feet laying loosely on the wakesurf board, your knees bent and the rope between your legs. The driver should start slowly - just 1-2mph should allow you to dig your heels into the wakesurf board and pop it up vertically. The people in the boat should now be able to see the bottom of the wakesurf board. At that point the driver gives more throttle while you keep your arms straight and begin pulling yourself up. It is almost like when you are sitting on the floor and you reach out your hand while someone pulls you up with theirs. Once up, keep your knees slightly bent and edge away from the wake so you can get your feet into position.
Feet Positioning: Generally you want your feet about shoulder width apart, with your back foot anywhere from 6 to 18 inches from the tail of the board. It will be different for each wakesurf board. Your feet should usually be closest to the edge of the wakesurf board that is cutting into the wake - that will allow you to hold your edge in the wake and keep you in the sweet spot. Additionally, keep in mind that shifting your weight to your front foot is like the "gas" and putting weight on the back foot is like the "brake". Same goes for moving forward on the wakesurf board and moving back. As you progress you will move your feet all over the wakesurf board while riding to recover from tricks.
Next time we'll get into some of the common tricks.