The Ultimate Wake

Bring the Ocean to the Lake: Wake Guide

A wave can be tailored according to your preference by shifting, adding or subtracting weight in the boat.  For example, if you want a lippy, peaky wave width more vertical height and a sweet spot that’s smaller and closer to the boat, then add a bunch of weight to the stern.  On the other hand, if you want a lengthy, pushy wave that has a longer sweet spot, then add weight to the front of the boat.  Of course, you’ve got to get your boat’s “lean” on.  That means putting virtually all the weight on one side of the boat – usually the port side because of the standard prop rotations.  “I come from a surfing background, so the bigger the better,” says Chase Hazen.  “I like waves with a good lip on them.  You don’t get that extra pop from a mushy wave.  And the longer the better.”

Driving It right
A lot of people think that the driver has to be in a constant left-hand or turn or they won’t be able to keep the wave, but the fact is that with proper weighting and speed (anywhere between 10 and 15 mph), your boat with generate its best wave with a straight trajectory, making rivers and narrow lake completely surfable.  “The biggest thing with driving is picking a spot across the lake and going as straight as possible toward it,” says Worlds skim-style champion Drew Danielo.  “If you turn one way or the other, it affects the wake negatively and you’ll never get yo7ur best wave.”  If you need more convincing, consider that the 2011 World Wake Surfing Championships tournament was held on the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona with a straight-line course and the best riders in the world having the best rides of their lives.

Your quiver should be filled with every style and size of board you need to get the job done.  In other works, if you choose to do both surf-style and skim-style , you need two very different types of boards.  Do your research and find the board or boards that will allow you to grow and progress from just pumping the wake to boosting huge front side airs and everything in between.  “I like to ride longboards here and there – usually a mini long board, like a 5’0” – and it’s super fun,” Hazen says. “You can get up on the nose and stall there.  I bounce back and forth between that and my surf style to mix things up.”

The Sweet Spot
Having trouble staying with the wave? The key is transferring weight subtly between the nose and heel of your board, and it’s done with your hips. When you move your hips toward the tail of the board, it’s just like tapping the brakes, and it will push you farther back on the wave.  Conversely, shifting your hips toward the nose will give you more speed and send you forward toward the swim platform.  If you’re just learning how to wakesurf, get comfortable in the sweet spot before you let go of the handle.  Danielo says, “Once the rope is slack, you know you’re good to go.”

Deep Water
No matter how much weight you throw in your boat and how carefully you position it, you’ll never have a championship wake unless you’re riding on a deep lake.  Without a deep lake, your boat can’t displace water properly, and you’ll end up with a smaller, mushier wake with less pushing power.  So how deep is deep enough? “Over 15 works, around 20 feet is perfect,” Hazen says. “After 40 feet it’s not any different, but I’ve found a 40 to be ideal.”  Not convinced? Try it.  You’ll feel the difference as soon as you hit a shallow spot on your lake and your wake drops in size and power.

As with any water sports, the key is really to have the right crew, helping by pulling you, coaching, filming and even queuing up your favourite song when it’s crunch time.  Pick positive, fun people who contribute not only in trick tips but also in gas.  And remember, while having a huge crew is great, the more riders you have in the boat, the less time you have to ride, so choose wisely. “Your crew makes it fun,” says 2010 Worlds surf-style champ James Walker. “If you can’t have fun with people you’re riding with, it’s not even worth being on the water.  Also, my boat runs on gas, not thank-you’s, and my buddies all contribute.

Courtesy of Wakeboarding Magazine, March 2012