How to Set-up and Weight Your Boat for Wakesurfing
Article By: Chris Bank
OK, it’s official – you made the plunge and cashed in your hard earned coins for a sweet wake-making surf machine!!! Now, it’s time to get it dialed in to serve up your ideal endless wave. But, how?? In this segment, we will discuss the basics of surf wake setups – wake creation, ballasting, speed, and adjustments.
First up – how do I create my surf wave? There are 2 primary approaches to surf wake creation: Listing and Delayed Convergence.
LISTING – In listing, the boat is “leaned over” by putting more ballast on the surf side of the boat. The uneven weight distribution will cause one side of the boat to ride lower in the water, creating a shortening effect to the wave on the weighted side. Listing may also be performed, or further enhanced, by using a trim-tab type system to create additional lean, for better effect.
DELAYED CONVERGENCE – Delayed convergence (DC) is the principle of elongating the non-surf side wake, thus creating a shortening effect on the surf side wake to create a surfable wave. Delayed convergence is generally executed by some type of apparatus located on the aft corner of the boat. The apparatus may swing/push/slide out, or may be mounted to that corner of the boat, opposite the desired surf wake side. In a DC setup, the boat is weighted flat or evenly, without list. Boat manufacturers with integrated DC systems provide the user the ability to quickly and easily transfer on the fly from goofy to regular surf sides, or to ride flat for wakeboarders.
Manufacture DC Set Ups
Aftermarket DC Products
Wakes are generated by the boat displacing water as it moves through it. The deeper the boat rides, the more water it will displace, therefore creating a larger wake in its path. So, if you want to make a bigger surf wave, then you’re going to need the boat to ride lower in the water. Many modern surf boats are designed to ride deeper in the water as a function of their hull design. Adding additional ballast is a way to accentuate the low ride of the boat, or to get a more buoyant craft to displace more water. The 2 most popular ways to ballast wake boats are: Adding water ballast into hard and/or soft internal tanks located within the boat and by using “hard” ballast such as lead/shot/steel ect.
OK – I have my ballast. Now, where do I put it for best effect? There are numerous ways to ballast your boat, and each boat is unique in what will net the best result. Here are a few simple steps to help you get started:
Ballast: Start your ballast process from the stern, and work your way forward. By adding weight to the rear of the boat, it will net the best “ride lowering” effect. Getting the stern low will assist in displacing the most water to create the biggest wake. Play around with various ballast configurations in the stern to see what works best for your boat. There is no replacement for dispacement.
Trimming: Next step -“Trimming” – Now that you have generated size from stern weight, you can begin to add forward ballast to help balance or “trim” the boat to add length to the wave face. Begin to add weight to find the point of “balance” in your wave. Too much stern ballast will create a tall, but short and washy wave. Too much forward ballast will take away from wake height, and may remove push power from that wave. Also, having a properly trimmed/balanced boat may improve fuel economy and overall drivability of the boat.
Speed: Ideal speed for wake surfing is unique to each boat, and how that boat is set up. Generally speaking, wake surfing is performed between 10-13mph. Slower speeds will create a shorter, steeper wake face. Faster speeds will elongate the wave, but may take away from its overall wake height. As you adjust ballast and wake setups, vary the speed a bit to determine what works best. Remember, just because your buddy’s boat produces a sweet wake at 11mph, does not mean that 11 is the ideal speed for your configuration. Unless you have calibrated GPS to track your speed, marine speedometers can vary greatly in their accuracy. Judge your wake by shape and size over speed.
Tweaks: The search for the perfect endless wave. Once you have your setup dialed in to your liking, you may want to play around with fine-tuning your wave. Satisfied with your overall wake size and length, but you see a bit of froth on the crest? Maybe add a touch of additional forward weight. Want to get just a touch more “push”? Perhaps add a little extra in the rear surf side corner of the boat. 25-50lbs of well-placed weight can make a noticeable difference in wake rideability.
Some boat manufacturers have additional remote or static hardware mounted on the hull that will allow the user some additional wake adjustability. If your boat is equipped with additional plates or dragging hardware, play around with small adjustments to determine their effect. These tools can also be handy in catering to the ability of the individual riders. As an example: adding a touch more pitch to the wave, or increasing how steep the wake face is, can add to the push of the wave and makes is easier for a novice rider to stay in the pocket.
Your boating forecast predicts big, clean, long wakes for days. Grab your boat and hit the lake!!