How Wakesurfing Works

Wakesurfing Safety

Wakesurfing boats must have inboard motors, rather than outboard motors with exposed propellers, to prevent the surfer from being injured. An inboard motor is located farther forward on the boat under the stern, and the motor is usually located a few feet in front of the rudder. And while the boat should be heavily weighted to boost wake, it shouldn't be weighted beyond the maximum load designated by the boat's manufacturer.

As with all water sports, wakesurfers should wear personal flotation devices. In fact, a PFD may be required by law in your state.

A proper rope is key for wakesurfing -- surfers typically use thick ropes, which are sometimes knotted to improve grip. The rope doesn't have to have a handle, but if it does, it should be smaller than the handle on a wakeboarding rope to prevent it from getting caught on the board.

When someone is wakesurfing, boaters often put a flag up to signal that someone is in the water -- the flag warns other boats not to get too close and to look for people in the water.

Because wakesurfing boats travel at low speeds, it's possible for carbon monoxide to pool in the air around the swim deck, so boaters should be careful about congregating in that area for extended periods of time. If you experience a headache or dizziness, inform the other boaters and leave the area.

For more information on wakesurfing, see the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Patoski, Joe Nick. "Catching a Break: Surf City Texas." Dallas Morning News. April 4, 2004.
  • Physics Central. "Science of Surfing." APS Physics. Sept. 1, 2009.
  • Regenold, Stephen. "Wakesurfing: Following the Boat Without a Rope." NY Times. Aug. 17, 2007.
  • Wakesurfing Magazine. "Big Boat Wakesurfing." Winter 2009.
  • "Wakesurfing."
  • "Getting Started Wakesurfing."
  • "How to Wakesurf 101: Practice Safe Wakesurfing Pt. 1." July 13, 2009.
  • WaterSki Magazine. "8 Must-Know Wakesurfing Tips." Oct. 7, 2009.