What Makes a Great Wakesurf Session?
A great wakesurf session is more than just a rip behind the boat. It's involves everything from the wakesurf boat to the driver to the board. In this article, you will learn everything involved in how to make a great wakesurf session so that you'll be carving on the lake all summer long.
Keep reading to learn all about:
• What Makes a Great Wakesurf Boat?
• Types of Waves
• Wakesurf Innovation, Convenience & Technology
• How To Wakesurf
• Wakesurf Boat Driving Tips
• How to Get Up on a Wakesurf Board
• Picking the Best Wakesurf Board for You
What Makes a Great Wakesurf Boat?
A great surf boat is multifaceted. It’s not enough to just produce a great wakesurf wave, the boat needs to be a Swiss Army knife with all sorts of capabilities that range from comfort to convenience to performance to technology. Malibu has spent tens of thousands of hours honing in the perfect balance of all these elements to make the best wakesurf boats in the world.
Comfort, convenience, luxury and technology are all important elements in a surf boat, but the single most important element is performance. And Malibu has that in spades. It all starts with Surf Gate, Malibu’s patented wakesurf technology that allows you to create a wave on either side of the boat with the touch of a button. You don’t have to displace crew and move weight from side to side, Surf Gate allows you to generate a world-class wave on either side with the boat while staying evenly weighted. In most cases, your evenly weighted setup similar to your wakeboard weight setup will work as a great starting point for your surf setup, so the convenience factor is off the charts. Another great thing about Malibu’s surf system is it combines with several different surf innovations to make an infinitely customizable wave. For example, your wakeboard weighting setup might be really close to your surf setup, but not exact. Malibu makes it simple to tweak your wave’s pitch and drive with ballast and Power Wedge III.
Steeper Wave = Tighter Pocket
Longer Wave = Huge Pocket
More Drive = Steeper Wave
Less Drive = Mellow Wave
Convenience & Technology
Malibu Command Center
Less Setup, More Surf
Wakesurf Board Racks
Malibu Comfort & Luxury
HOW TO WAKESURF
Wakesurf Boat Driving Tips
Wakesurfing is one of the most rewarding watersports out there. It’s low impact, fairly easy to learn and there are an almost unlimited number of tricks to keep you challenged and engaged. Wakesurfing is one of the few sports in the world that’s just as fun for a teenager as it is for a grandparent, and the whole family can get involved. Here are some tips to jumpstart your wakesurf career and make this the best summer ever. Let’s start with driving.
Driving for wakesurfing can feel a little intimidating at first, but it becomes second nature after a short time. The main thing to think about is always safety. Keep your rider in view at all times and make sure you keep a safe distance between the boat and the surfer when you’re circling around to pick them up after they fall. It’s also good to keep in mind that your boat has a lot of power and there’s no reason to use it all to pull the rider up. More on that later. Stay at least 200 feet away from docks, other boats and stationary objects while underway, and keep enough Coast Guard-approved PFDs in the boat for all passengers. Kids under 12 need to wear theirs at all times. You also need a throwable flotation device and some states require a watersports flag as a visual indicator your rider has fallen. If you’re on a busy waterway, tell your rider to hold their board up vertically so they are more visible to other boats when they fall.
How to Set Up the Boat to Surf
Malibu makes setting up a surf wave incredibly easy. There are two ways to do it. The first way is to navigate to the presets screen on the 12” display. From there, select “Surf Left” or “Surf Right”, press “Load” and the boat will do the rest. If you want to dig in and set your boat up manually, just select “Surf Left” or “Surf Right” in the upper right-hand corner of the 12”, engage cruise control and set your speed to somewhere between 10.6 and 11.4. Shorter boats can be at the lower side of that speed range whereas longer boats will need to be on the higher side. The last two steps are to fill ballast and set Power Wedge III to the desired level. How do you know which side your rider wants to surf? A great way for beginners to tell which foot they should have forward is to stand behind them and lightly push them forward so they have to take a step. Whichever foot they step forward with first is a good indication of which foot forward they will have while wakesurfing. The rider should have their toes facing the wave for beginners, so for example, a left-foot-forward rider (called regular foot) will start out surfing on the left side of the boat from the perspective of someone driving. In this case you will hit the “Surf Left” button. If your rider is right-foot-forward (called “goofy foot”), just hit “Surf Right.” Malibu makes it that easy. The boat will take care of filling the ballast, dialing in speed control and setting Power Wedge III and Surf Gate to deploy. Now it’s time to find some deep water.
It’s best to wakesurf in at least 12 feet of water. More is better. When you have less water underneath you, the boat will not generate a fully formed wave. If you have shallow spots in your waterway, you’ll notice the wave dropping out and losing size and push so it’s best to stay in deep water at all times.
Choose Your Line
When you’re looking for a wakesurf spot, find somewhere that has enough depth and is relatively calm. It doesn’t have to be glass calm, but less wind is typically better. You’ll drive in a straight line while surfing, so find a spot that has enough space for a good run. Also, if another boat is “running the line” you’re looking at, it’s typically courteous to either go in the same direction they are or find a different spot. Although it’s not always possible, ideally it’s a good idea to avoid going perpendicular to another boat’s watersports line.
Prep Your Rider
It’s good practice to go over a few signals with your rider so you’re on the same page when they get in the water. Some of the most common are to say “hit it” when the rider is ready to get up (“go” sounds too much like “no”), to signal with a fist on the top of the head when you’re ready to be done, and to wave to signal you’re okay after you fall. Designate someone in the boat as the spotter as well as the rope tender. The spotter will tell you when the rider is down and the rope tender will throw the rider the rope as you circle back around after they fall; the rope tender should throw the rope alongside the rider, never directly at them. Once the rider is up and surfing the wave, the rope tender should pull the rope in.
When your rider is in the water with a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket on and the handle in their hand, wait until they get situated before moving the boat. Many surfers like to start out on their backs with the board on their heels so it may take them a minute to get into the right position. When they’re ready, they will signal you. Lift the neutral lock on the throttle and slowly push it forward to get a little tension in the line. Try not to jerk the handle from their hands or accelerate too quickly. You can anchor your forearm on the armrest to get more incremental throttle movements. As the rider is slowly being pulled forward, gently ease the throttle forward until they get on top of the board. The boat’s speed control will kick in at a certain point and your main job will be to watch for traffic and obstacles in front of you while your observer watches the rider. It can be tempting to watch the action, but never drive facing the rider. Instead, always face forward and glance occasionally in the mirror for the rider while relying on your spotter for information as well. If your boat is equipped with a rear-facing camera, you can pull that up on the main Malibu Command Center screen and watch the rider from there as well.
Chances are, there are going to be a lot of these at first so you’ll get some practice. When the rider falls, gradually pull the throttle back to neutral and start to turn in the opposite direction of the wave. Give the boat a little bump in reverse until the wave passes you, then slowly circle back around to the rider, keeping them on the driver’s side at all times. Have the rope tender toss the line to the rider and they’re ready to try again.
When your rider throws the rope to the other side of the wave, the rope tender should pull the line back into the boat so the rider has no chance of falling onto it.
If your rider wants to transfer from side to side, Malibu’s Surf Band takes care of all the work. You just drive the boat and the rider will push the button when they are ready to transfer. The boat’s surf horns will emit three beeps before the system transfers, letting the rider know exactly when to time their hop over the wave to the other side. It’s that simple. They can also slightly adjust the speed up and down, tweak the Power Wedge III setting and even turn the tower speaker volume up without you having to do a thing. When the rider has pressed the transfer button, an alert will pop up on the Malibu Command Center letting the driver know the transfer is about to happen.
How to Get Up on a Wakesurf Board
Getting up on a wakesurf board can feel a little intimidating at first, but it’s just like riding a bike—once you have it you have it for life. Here are some quick wakesurfing tips to get you started out right.
Goofy or Regular
If you don’t know which foot forward you ride, have someone gently push you from behind. Whichever foot you step forward with first is a probably the foot you will have forward when you ride. Start out surfing the side that has your toes pointing at the wave. Left foot forward is “regular” and right foot forward is “goofy.”
Attach the rope to the tower’s main tow point in the middle. If the tower is equipped with side tower points, you can place the rope on whichever side you want to surf. This is another innovation from Malibu to make wakesurfing easier. The side tow points help get you outside the wave so you can learn in clean water, and they can make a world of difference on a beginner’s learning curve.
When you’re all geared up with your US Coast Guard-approved life jacket, board and handle, hop in the water and swim away from the platform. Start lying on your back with your heels on the board and the edge of the board facing the back of the boat. As you say “hit it,” the driver will gradually ease the throttle forward and tension the line. At the same time, push your heels down so your feet land in the center of the board. The tension of the boat pulling you forward will drive the board into your feet. While this is happening, bend your knees and let the boat do the work as it pulls you on top of the board. The tendency is to stiffen your legs and try to muscle yourself on top of the board, but the boat is always going to win that game of tug of war. Instead, resist the urge and keep your legs bent with your heels as close to your butt as possible. Don’t stand up too soon; you can ride all around the lake crouched down like this but if you try to stand up too soon you’ll most likely fall. This whole process sounds complicated, but it becomes second nature in no time.
After you’re on top of the board, turn the nose toward the back of the boat and put some weight on your heels so you end up leaning against the boat’s pull and staying out of the wave. Now you can stand up, but keep your knees slightly bent and your core flexed in an athletic stance.
Getting Into the Pocket
When you’re feeling more comfortable riding, gradually start to turn into the wave by putting more pressure on your toes. Keep the handle at your forward hip as you make the turn so your board’s tip faces the back of the boat. When you get into the wave, let go with your back hand and start to move around until you feel the wave start to push you. When that happens, move your weight backward to slow down. When you have weight on your back foot, you’re hitting your wakesurf board’s brakes, and when you lean forward you’re hitting the accelerator. When you feel comfortable, throw the handle across to the other side of the wave and let the power of the wave keep you going!
Picking the Best Wakesurf Board for You
What’s the Best Wakesurf Board?
Let’s just get this out of the way now: There is no best wakesurf board, it’s all about what works for you. A surf style board is just as good as a skim board and a hybrid shape is just as good as the other two, they just do different things for different riders. What’s the difference? Let’s talk it through.
Surf Style Wakesurf Boards
Surf style is more like a traditional ocean surfboard. While surf-style wakesurf boards have evolved quite a bit from the ocean, they keep the same spirit and a somewhat similar shape. In many cases they also have a similar construction style. Characteristics include a thick surface, more buoyancy and more fins that are curved like an ocean surfboard’s fins. Surf style is great for airing out and big, aggressive turns. They can feel a little squirrely to beginners, but that’s because they are so lively when you get them on an edge. That energy transfers over to sweeping bottom turns and pro-level airs that are hard to match on a skim board. A surf style wakesurf board will usually have a more locked in feel at the tail that can be hard to break loose until you know what you’re doing. The added tracking provided by the bigger fins can make it easier for beginners to get started because the board naturally wants to face its nose to the back of the boat. Brands include Ronix, Liquid Force, Hyperlite, Slingshot, Connelly (CWB) and more.
Skim Style Wakesurf Boards
Skim boards resemble the type of skim board you run and throw in front of you at the ocean. They have a very small fin (sometimes more than one), they’re thinner than surf style boards, and they love to spin. They can feel like you’re on ball bearings for beginners, but when you get around to learning 360s there’s no better platform. You can still air out, but it’s more difficult and probably not the best board to learn airs on. Brands include Ronix, Liquid Force, Hyperlite, Slingshot, Connelly (CWB) and more.
Hyrbid Style Wakesurf Boards
If there’s a compromise between a traditional skim and surf board, it’s the hybrid. It will take the best features of both boards and make a nice balance that can be a perfect all-around board for the whole boat. It’s never going to be quite as good as specific things as a dedicated surf or skim style, but for most people that’s okay. Look for plenty of buoyancy and the option to add multiple fins if you’re just starting out. For the bigger riders, look for a longer board so you don’t have to keep pumping to stay in the wave. The longer you go with the board, the more the nose should curl up so you don’t catch it on a steeper wave. Brands include Ronix, Liquid Force, Hyperlite, Slingshot, Connelly (CWB) and more .