Wake Surfing - All There is to Know

Wake Surfing - All There Is to Know

For many Muskoka cottagers, water sports and activities are what makes going to the cottage such an exciting getaway. Whether you fancy tubing, water skiing or wakeboarding, summer days are made that much more enjoyable being towed behind a boat under the sun. While boating in Muskoka this past summer, you may have noticed people taking part in a relatively new water sport. Similar to wakeboarding, you would have seen people surfing a boat’s oversized wake without a rope. Introducing you to the phenomena known as wake surfing, this article gives you all there is to know about this up-and-coming water sport so you can spend your summer days testing it out.

While there is footage from the 1950’s and 60’s of ocean surfers riding surfboards behind motor boats, it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that the sport began to evolve. As the board length began to shrink over time, boards also began to have devices where riders could fasten their feet. 
Eventually tow ropes were added and the sport of wakeboarding was born. With wakeboarding came more advanced motor boats designed to produce larger wakes. Able to facilitate a rider trailing without a rope, these boats lead to the emergence of wake surfing. This sport requires less effort from riders, and is less dangerous with slower speeds and less air. Starting in the water, wake surfers get up onto the wake usually using a tow rope and when they are comfortably positioned on the wake they throw the rope to the boat. As this sport becomes increasingly popular, boards, boats and tricks are all evolving to make it as cutting-edge as possible.  

Boat Set-up 
Inboard ski/wakeboard boats are typically used for wake surfing because their propellers are beneath the boat and out of harm’s way. To be able to wake surf successfully, the wake of the boat must be maximized. People position ballasts, concrete and sandbags among other things in the back of the boat to do so. Whether a surfer surfs left foot forward or right foot forward dictates which side of the wake you want to be the largest. If you surf goofy or right foot forward, the left side of the wake is what you’ll surf and vice versa. Configuring the weight in the boat to the side the surfer is going to surf will wash out the other side and create an ideal wake size. Aside from the wake, you will need a rope ideally less than 20 feet that attaches to the boat’s tower. Proper wake surf boards are also highly recommended and cost anywhere between $250 and $1700.   

How to Wake Surf
Step 1: Before surfing make sure you know which way you surf. As previously mentioned, wake surfing is exactly like skateboarding and wakeboarding in that you either position your ‘regular’ (left) foot forward or you ‘goofy’ (right) foot forward. If you’re looking at the wake from the boat, you will surf on the right side of the wake if you surf regular and the left side of the wake if you surf goofy.  

Step 2: Now that you have all the necessary equipment and are familiar with which direction you should face, get in the water with your wake surf board. Place both heels shoulder width apart on top of the floating board with the soles of your feet facing the boat. Get somebody from inside the boat to throw you the rope that’s attached to the tower and hold it with both hands letting the rope drape between your legs on the middle of the board.  

Step 3: Once you are comfortable in this position, give the ok to the driver of the boat to speed up slightly. As the boat takes the slack out of the rope, the rider must press their heels into the edge of the board, which brings the bottoms of the feet in contact with the board. Drag behind the boat with your knees bent in this position until you are comfortable to continue onto the next step.  

Step 4: With your feet planted onto the board, your knees bent and the rope held between them, give a signal to the boat indicating to pull you up. It is important not to lean too far forward when being pulled up, as you will tumble face over board. Ensure your arms are slightly bent at the elbows so you can guide yourself up without falling. As you pull yourself up, simultaneously move your board so your dominant foot is facing forward into your surfing position. Boat speed usually shouldn’t exceed 9-12 mph for optimum wake size and shape.  

Step 5: Once you’re standing on the board being pulled by the boat, you must apply pressure between your front and back feet to find the ‘sweet spot’ of the wake. Otherwise known as the spot on the wake where you can surf without using a rope, once you find the sweet spot and feel comfortable with the slacked rope, toss the rope to the back of the boat or into the opposite side of the wake for retrieval and enjoy shredding the gnar!  

Tricks to Try
Cutbacks: carving off the lip of the wake with the board; the sharper the better.   

180/360 degree shuv it: spinning board either 180 degrees or 360 degrees beneath feet.

Pumping: applying pressure between feet in a pumping motion to regain wake position.  

Stalling: applying pressure to the back foot to stall and move further down the wake.  

Fire hydrant: placing one hand on the board and taking your front foot off.  

Switch stance: riding opposite foot forward.  

180/360/540/720 degree spin: spinning with the board while on the water or in the air.  

Wrap Up
Wake surfing is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family and doesn’t require a professional wakeboarder or surfer to get the hang of. Lifejackets should always be worn, especially with first timers. Be safe and have fun in Muskoka wake surfing this summer; let’s hope it’s a sunny one.    

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