“Wake surfing can be a lot of fun if you have the right tender. The wake needs to be sharp, crisp and have a nice angle of attack,” explains Captain Carl Sputh of popular charter motoryacht Starfire.
With the changing age profile of owners, captains now need to ensure they can offer a variety of water sports activities for a wide range of age groups. One that appears to be on the increase is that of wake surfing, so much so that in 2014 superyacht tender manufacturer MasterCraft launched its Gen 2 Surf System, which creates the ideal wake for the activity, something that’s particularly important in this particular sport.
“The wake needs to be sharp, crisp and have a nice angle of attack; about eight to 10 knots is typically a good speed, and a nice wake is about 1m-plus,” explains Captain Sputh, who offers advice for those without a machine to create the perfect wake. “Getting the right wake is not just about putting weight in the stern, as many people think. You may have to also weight the bow, midships or port and starboard quarters to achieve a clean, long wake,” he explains. “Next time you go out, move bodies around the boat by having people sit in different areas and pay close attention to how the wake changes.” And how do you know when you’ve got it right? “When you have a smooth high wake with no whitewater,” says the captain.
There are of course some serious safety considerations “Wake surding behind an outboard boat or inboard/outboard boat exposes the rider to the propeller, which can lead to serious injury or worse. So the absolute rule is, never wake surf behind a boat with an exposed propeller,” warns Michael Hardicker, managing director at MasterCraft Boats UK.
"The absolute rule is, never wake surf behind a boat with an exposed propeller.”
And let’s not forget the etiquette of watersports. “You need to remember there are other boats in the anchorage that are going to be very unhappy with your waist-high rollers destroying their swim decks and toys,” warns Captain Sputh. “Don’t forget, you are responsible for your wake!”
Key differences between wake surfing and wake boarding, from MasterCraft Boats UK:
A wake surf board is a hybrid of a traditional short board surfboard and a wakeboard. Most of the wakeboard manufacturers offer a line of surfing boards these days.
You will need a wake surf rope. Traditional wakeboarding ropes are long and thin. The thicker and shorter design of wake surf ropes makes manouvering much easier for the rider. Wake surf ropes will often have extra knots and grips throughout the rope, allowing the wake surfer to use as much or as little of the rope as they want when positioning themselves on the wake.
When pulling up a wake surfer, you should accelerate more slowly than when pulling a wakeboarder. Boat speed will vary with make, model, and amount of weight, but usually good waves form at around 10 mph. Start slowly and make small incremental increases.