If you live near the water, there’s a good chance that you’re very much into water sports and the new crazes that take the market by storm, such as wakeboarding and wakesurfing. If you’re just getting into these sports, you want to make sure you’re getting the right kind of equipment. As you’ve researched, you may have come across ballast systems and wondered, “Why do you need a ballast system anyway?” A ballast system can help increase your wake — and after a few times on the board, you’ll understand why a bigger wake is better — by weighting the boat properly. For those who ask, “Why do you need a ballast system?” the answer will become quite clear once you advance from the beginners level when it comes to wakeboarding or wakesurfing.
Talk to Me About Wakeboarding and Wakesurfing
As similar as they may sound, these two sports are actually a fair bit different. In 2015, over three million people wakeboarded in the United States. With wakeboarding, you ride the board over the surface of the water, with your feet strapped into bindings that are similar to snowboards or skateboards. The wakeboard gets towed behind a motorboat and you ride in the boat’s wake. Wakeboards tend to be a bit smaller than wakesurf boards – between 4.2 to 4.8 feet.
Wakesurfers, on the other hand, lack the straps that the wakeboard has — you ride the board like a surfer would. The ropes you hold on to while wakesurfing are around 20 feet long and shorter than a rope used for wakeboarding, which are usually between 52 to 78 feet in length. The principal is much the same however — a motorboat pulls the wakesurfer on a small surfboard (usually about five feet in length) and the surfer rides the wake of the boat.
Why Do You Need a Ballast System?
When it comes to wakeboards, the wakeboard ballast refers to the mass kept on a boat that sends the hull deeper in the water, changing how big the wake is and what shape it takes. The aerator pump system is the most common type of ballast system, pushing water in just one direction. It’s one of the least expensive options on the market, but you need to account for more space on the boat for the aerator pump to work.
The impeller pump ballast system is more automatic and the pumps can fill and drain through the same part of the ballast tank. This is more space efficient — important if you have a smaller boat — and are a bit easier to install. A timer will shut the pump off if the tank gets too full or empties completely.
For wakesurfing, considering where to put your ballast can also make a huge difference — and remember that people can add to the ballast, with their cumulative weight! You’ll want to figure out the right ballast configuration for your boat. Experts also recommend surfing in deeper water — anything from eight to 10 feet will provide a better wake. So if you’re in the market for a motorboat in order to wakesurf or wakeboard, you now understand the answer to the question: Why do you need a ballast system?”
The more powerful the ballast, the bigger the wakes and the more satisfying the ride!
Where Can I Learn to Wakesurf or Wakeboard?
Most areas that are close to the water will have places that offer lessons for a small fee. Alternatively, friends and family who are more experienced or who have wakeboarded or wakesurfed before may be able to offer advice, suggestions, and tutorials. Once you’ve got the basic hang of it, it’s trial and error — and really finding your feet! Like with many things in life, practice makes perfect.
Have a blast this summer with a big wake thanks to your new ballast system. You might find yourself surprised at the difference it can make in your ride. Swap wakeboarding or wakesurfing tips with your friends and family and hang on for the ride!