Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat?

Quick answer to that question is no. When a boat is in motion, it creates an endless wave as a result of the boat hull that displaces the water. Surfing with a wakesurf board behind this type of artificial wave is called wakesurfing. Due to risk of serious injury or worse, no one should ever attempt to surf their boats wave if the boat has an outboard motor or inboard/outboard (I/O) motor.

If your boat does not have a built in surf system you are going to need a wake shaper to create the wave. Our complete guide to best wake shapers will help guide you to the best one to fit your boat.

No, you cannot wakesurf behind any boat

Many people don’t really understand what it takes to safely wakesurf behind a boat. In fact, they probably don’t know that not all boats can be wake-surfed behind. There are certain measures that need to be put in place to safely wakesurf behind a boat.

After watching a video on YouTube that was uploaded 9 years ago. There, you see a lady by the name Brittany wakesurfing behind a boat with its propeller visibly in view. She makes it fun by alternating between holding a rope that is tied to the boat and surfing free-hand. While some praised her for her “courage” and saying that there was no way she could hit the propeller, many safety-conscious people already saw the high risk she exposed herself to.

Although the wake created by the boat she was surfing behind didn’t have much push, and she also made use of a long board, she could have created a forward velocity just by pumping her board with her feet like she was doing. This definitely would cause her to go faster than the boat speed and probably hit the propeller. Or what if the boat’s power was to go off and the blade still spinning? I shudder to imagine what the result could be. And this is something new riders may not be aware of. This was extremely dangerous and should never be attempted.

Because you got invited to go for a boat ride and you have a nice surfboard that hasn’t been in use for sometime doesn’t mean that you should try it. If the boat has an inboard propeller, feel free to drop the rope and carve those waves!

Why tubing is considered safe is because of the length of rope involved. Tubing ropes are typically 50 feet or more and are always connected to the tube where no the people are not moving forward and back like when wakesurfing.

3 ways you can get up on a wakesurf board

  • While laying on it, try getting up as if it’s a knee board. Slowly take one hand off the rope. Then, pull up and put forward the foot that the hand is still holding on to the rope.  With the other hand laid low to stabilize you, gradually get up.
  • Start by sitting on the surfboard in a straddling position with your feet moved to the side. Once there is tension, move your feet to the front of the board and gradually stand up.
  • With the surfboard being perpendicular to your boat, lay behind it. Once there is tension, the rope will snap and cause the board to get you on your feet. You will then pop up before turning sideways. This pattern is a little complicated and is best suited for advanced users.

Let’s find out the kind of boat that is best for wakesurfing.

To clear things up quickly, you should only wakesurf behind a boat that is inboard V-drive or inboard direct drive. The reason is that the propeller is usually found underneath the boat. That way, the rider is less likely to come in contact with it when wakesurfing.

Never wakesurf behind a boat with and outboard or I/O motor. Many have sustained serious injuries, and in worst cases, some lost their lives as a result of surfing behind such boats with exposed propellers.

Making the best of your wake

Wakesurfing is becoming a very popular and preferred watersports that a lot of people like to engage in. To enjoy wakesurfing behind a boat, there is need for the wake to be big enough. This is where ballast comes in. Because of the importance of ballasts to wakesurfing, some boats come with factory-fitted ballast system.

Ballasts are simply put in place to increase the weight of the boat so as to create a longer wake lengthwise, and a shorter wake height-wise. Wake Ballast Steel Shot Bags are among the best and come with 3-year warranty, weighs 50 pounds, made with non-toxic pellets and is manufactured in the USA. However, it’s best to first check with your boat manufacturer’s recommendation and try to stay within the stipulated limit.

You should also consider the number of passengers the boat is carrying and see if the weight is enough before adding any ballast.

Another thing that can be used together with ballast is wake shapers. Wake shapers are usually angled shape and are attached to the boat’s stern through the suction cup or velcro. The purpose of a wake shaper is to displace the water for a cleaner, crisper, and bigger wake. It may be possible to change the placement of your wake shaper from one side of the boat to the other. You will most likely try it out severally to finally arrive at the best placement for your boat. We recommend SWELL wakesurf creator for a seamless wave. 

Setting up a ballast on a V-drive boat

If your boat is a V-drive boat, it means that the engine is close to the rear of the boat. When preparing to add ballast to such a boat, focus on weighing down the part of the boat that you will be wakesurfing on. Make sure the ballasts are placed very close to the engine. You should also add a smaller amount of weight or ballast just directly in front of it either on the seats or under it. This placement should still be on the side of the boat you intend to wakesurf on. The idea is to get a little lift and for the rub rails to always be above the water. If this position works for you, stick to it, otherwise try another position.

Setting up a ballast on a direct drive boat

A direct drive boat has its engine in the middle of the boat. You will find that most of the weight is concentrated in the middle. Even though the engine is at the center, you may have to try out the same pattern I explained for a V- drive boat. The ballast should be on the side of the boat you want to wakesurf on, while placing some to the rear of the boat as well as behind the engine.

Getting the right ropes

To be on the safe side while wake-surfing, it is important that you get a quality wakesurf rope. The right rope should be thin and long. The shorter and thicker design of the wakesurf rope, the easier it will be to maneuver. Good wakesurfing ropes like Airhead wakesurf rope come with extra grips and knots all through the rope so that you can use as much or little as you may require. But bear in mind that using the wrong rope can lead to accident.

Staying safe while wakesurfing

Before wrapping up this article, here are some pointers you should note:

  • Make sure you are an experienced surfer or have undergone training from a professional before trying to wakesurf
  • Begin at a low speed when starting out. Boat speeds tend to vary but you can play it safe by sticking to 10 mph and 12.5 mph maximum. And ensure that you calibrate your speedometer
  • The water wave length shouldn’t be any higher than your thigh.
  • Always make use of a life vest and wakeboard helmets.

And finally, make sure you trust your crew and the person behind the wheel – you don’t want an inexperienced person risking your life.