How Wakesurfing Works

Wakesurfing Boats

Wakesurfing boats are specifically weighted to maximize wake. These weights can be made of heavy lead or fat sacs, water-filled ballast bags, and they're used to tilt the boat to one side. Some boats are weighted so much -- and consequently sag so much in the back -- that they look as if they're about to sink into the lake.

Besides being weighted to one side, wakesurfing boats have a swim deck, a small platform at the rear of the boat that a spotter stands on to watch the surfer and to pull in the rope after he or she lets go. The swim deck also provides more protection for the surfer; along with the rudder, it's one more barrier between the surfer and the propeller.

Some wakesurfing boats are known for the quality of waves they create. In fact, one wakesurfer claims that his $50,000 boat creates a practically unending wave, the only limit to riding it being a surfer's stamina [source: Regenold].

Wakesurfing can also be done with large boats, such as yachts, but the process is more difficult -- they take longer to gather speed, and they're less maneuverable, which means it takes longer to circle back and pick up fallen surfers. Because of their M-shaped hulls, these large boats also create different kinds of wakes than smaller boats, so the surfer will have to adapt accordingly. Surfers must stay a safe distance from these boats -- they often have exposed propellers. But the advantages of wakesurfing with large boats include being able to wakesurf in tandem with another rider and surfing on larger wakes that are more akin to real waves.