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Man riding on a wakesurf board behind a boat

How to Set Up and Weight Your Boat for Wakesurfing

The popularity of wakesurfing is rapidly growing and it has become one of the most challenging watersports behind a boat. Many people believed that a surfboard could be used to ride behind a boat, even though it was originally created by surfers in the 60s and 70s. The evolution of wakesurfing has reached new heights only since the past ten years. Boat manufacturers now make boats for wakesurfing. No matter what boat you drive, it is important to set up your boat for wakesurfing. 

(check out our selection of wakesurfers here)

How to weight your boat for wakesurfing

It is important to first understand how the perfect wake is created. The boat's movement through water creates a wake. The boat's hull moves water around, displaces water and then returns the water to its original state. The constant flow of water creates a "endless" wave that moves in the boat's direction. A general rule of thumb is that if the weight of the boat is higher in the front, it creates a shorter wake in height and a longer wake in width. The reverse is true if the weight is lower in the back. Wakesurfing is only possible on one side. You can increase the weight of the boat on one side to increase the wake size.

Ballast For Wakesurfing

To create the perfect wakesurf wave, you will need to add weight to your boat. Ballast can be in many forms: ballast tanks that are integrated into your boat's hull, ballast bags that you fill up with water, and even physical weights.

Factory Ballast

Factory ballast systems are available for wakeboarding and wakesurfing boats. These systems allow you to fill and change ballast as you go. Some boats don't require any extra ballast. However, even though the factory ballasts are sufficient to make a great wakesurfing wave, they may not be enough. You might need to add ballast weight to make a wake large enough and consistent enough for wakesurfing behind.


Be mindful of the natural ballast you will be bringing with you, before you load your boat up with ballast bags and fatsacks. The simplest way to move your weight around is by moving people in the boat. There's no lifting or pumping required. Moving all passengers to the surf side can help shift weight and clear up the boat. There is no one right way to arrange passengers on a boat. You can experiment with placements and come up with your own solutions. Remember that people must always be seated in safe and comfortable places so they don't fall out of the boat. You are the captain, so it may take time to find the right places to seat people.

Wakesurfing Ballast Bags

Addition ballast bags A boat that is properly sized will sit lower in water, particularly on the side where you'll be surfing. Ballast bags (fat bags) can make a big difference in the wake and how your boat drives. Before you invest in ballast bags, you should determine how much you need and where. To maximize wakesurfing's potential, the bulk of the ballast should be in the back corner. The front will have smaller amounts to help lengthen the wake. Ballast should never be hauled on a boat. Extra weight in your trailer can cause problems with road handling, fuel consumption, tire wear, and even failure of the trailer bearings.

Every boat is different. It may take some time to find the right spots. Once you have, you will be able to create a larger wake that's easier for surfers. Keep in mind each rider's preference. For example, surf-style surfing is more flatter than skim-style.

Wake Shapers

When used with ballast, wake shapers can be the best and easiest way to increase your boat's wake. They are also very easy to use. Their angled shape allows water to be displaced from your boat's stern by attaching to it via suction cups or Velcro. It is possible to make mistakes when placing your wake shaper. It's easy to move the placement of your wake shaper to one side or the other.

What types of boats are available for wakesurfing?

You don't have to buy a wakesurf board just because you want one. You should only wakesurf with inboard V-drive or direct drive boats. Because the propeller is located under the boat, it is less likely to come in contact with the rider than onboard wakeboard boats.

A wakesurfer who is riding behind an outboard or I/O boat can be exposed to the propeller and could cause serious injury or even death. You, your friends, your parents, the sport, and your pretty face are all better off not wakesurfing behind a boat that has an exposed propeller.

Be aware that not all wakeboards are built to perform at their best. A propellert that is specifically designed for wakesurfing should be one of your first steps in upgrading your boat. For more information, call the manufacturer (you will need your elevation). You may also need to modify your engine. The oil pan may be on its side for prolonged periods of time, so the engine might appear to be low on oil. You'll waste gas and not get the best out of your boat.

Ballast Setup for V-Drive Boats vs Direct Drive

Direct Drive

Direct drive boats have their engine in the middle of the boat. This means that the majority of its weight is concentrated in the middle. To add weight to your boat's back, you will need to place ballast bags on the side you are wakesurfing. Image from Fat Sac

Direct Drive diagram for wakesurfing weight placement


The engine of a V-drive boat is located near the rear. The engine will be near the rear of your boat. You should weigh the side you want to wakesurf on. Next, you will need to add less weight under the seats or the seats on the side that you are going wakesurfing on. To get a lift, keep the rub rail high above the water. Then you can experiment. Image from Fat Sac

V Drive diagram for wakesurfing weight placement

Boards and Ropes

There are many riding styles today. Most major manufacturers of wakeboards also offer a range of wakesurf boards. The first step in wakesurfing is to find the right board. Like any other water sport there is equipment specifically designed for wakesurfing. 

We recommend that you invest in a high-quality wakesurf rope. Traditional wakeboarding ropes can be either long or thin. Wakesurf ropes are thicker and more maneuverable than traditional wakeboarding ropes. Many wakesurf ropes have additional knots and grips that allow the rider to use as much or as little rope as they like when positioning themselves on the wake. The rope can pose a safety hazard if it is not used correctly.

Boat Speed for Wakesurfing

Wakesurfing boat speed will depend on the make and model of the boat and the amount of ballast. However, good waves can reach around 10 mph, while professional surfers can achieve speeds of around 12.5. Surf-style boards are faster than skim-style boards at 1.5 mph. You should accelerate slower when pulling a wakesurfer. Start slow, then slowly increase in speed. Ideal for starting, you will want a wave that is about a thigh high with no whitewater on the lips.

Safety of Wakesurfing

Safety is the foundation of all water sports. You can avoid many problems by learning the basics. Some states don't require you to use a life vest Some laws don't require the use of a mirror, or even a third person to observe while you are waterskiing or wakesurfing. It is important to know the laws, but it is also necessary to think beyond them in order for your friends and loved ones to be safe. Get the safety accessories you need, such as life vests. A flag and possibly wakeboard helmets This is especially important for children. 

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