Did you know that the first official wakeboarding competition was held in 1990 in Orlando, Florida? And the first US design patent for a wakesurf went to Alfonso Corona in 1997. Despite wakeboarding and wakesurfing having been around for a few decades, their popularity as water sports has continued to increase in the United States in recent years. Indeed, in 2015, over three million people wakeboarded in the United States and just under 20% of millennials do some kind of water based sport. One of the most important features in wakeboarding or wakesurfing is a big wake, and so many wakeboarding/wakesurfing enthusiasts are always looking for how to create a bigger wake. So let’s talk about the differences between wakeboarding and wakesurfing, why a bigger wake is important (and how to create a bigger wake), as well as what you need to get started.
What Do I Need to Wakesurf or Wakeboard?
For both wakesurfing and wakeboarding, you’ll need an inboard boat to tow you — and presumably, friends to drive the boat and offer encouragement. You may also be able to use their weight as extra ballast! You’ll also need either a surfboard or a wakeboard, depending on which activity you’re doing. Both will usually require a ballast system — it’s important for the wake — and either a wakesurfing or wakeboarding rope and handles. If you’re wakeboarding, you’ll need wakeboard bindings for your board, and you should always be wearing a life vest, even if you know how to swim.
There are also other specialized boat accessories, if you’re really into the sport, like ballast bags, wakesurf shapers, and ballast pumps, but if you’re just getting started, you’ll probably just be sticking to the basics.
Wakeboarding Vs. Wakesurfing
Wakeboarding probably most closely resembles snowboarding, whereas wakesurfing takes after regular surfing. The most noticeable difference is going to be how you position yourself on the board. With wakeboarding, you’ll be strapped into boots that are attached to the board, whereas wakesurfers can freely stand, as they might if they were surfing. Wakesurf boards tend to be a bit longer than wakeboarding boards which, boars are only between 4.2 and 4.8 feet in length.
Wakeboarders will need to be connected to the boat with a rope at all times, and though wakesurfers use a rope, they don’t need to hang onto it the whole time. Once they have control, they’ll let go and surf the waves that the boat creates. Wakeboarding ropes tend to be longer than those used for wakesurfing. Ideally, a wakeboard rope will be anywhere from 52 to 78 feet in length, whereas a wakesurf rope is usually only 20 feet in length.
Wakeboarders can generally go faster and go higher than wakesurfers, thanks to holding on to the rope, but wakesurfers can surf for longer periods of time, compared to regular surfing, because the boat is constantly creating new waves.
How to Create a Bigger Wake — and Why You Want To
One of the key things you need to create a bigger wake is a ballast system, which adds more weight to your boat, which puts the boat lower in the water. The lower the boat is in the water, the more water the hull displaces, creating a bigger wake. But it’s not all about how to create a bigger wake — you want to think about shape as well as size. Sure, a bigger wake means that there’s more momentum, but the shape can influence your ride. If the wake is too skinny or vertical, your wake might end up collapsing in on itself.
Some wakeboarding boats have a built in surf system that helps you adjust your boat’s weight. For those without that technology, portable ballasts or a complete ballast system you can purchase might be the answer.
If you’re just getting into the sport, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a sport that thousands of Americans enjoy every year. Get in on the fun and learn about the equipment you need, tips and techniques, and start practicing!