What to Know About Wakeboarding Versus Wakesurfing

Wakeboard boat ballast system

If you live or vacation near the water, you’ve probably seen people go flying by “surfing” while attached to a boat. Wakeboarding and wakesurfing has become increasingly popular in recent years — indeed, in 2015, over three million people wakeboarded in just the United States alone. And given that almost 13 million households have a boat in their possession, that number stands to increase. If you’re just getting into wakeboarding or wakesurfing, you probably are looking for wakesurfing or wakeboarding tips. You may wonder, for example, why a bigger wake is better or how to create a bigger wake in the first place. Practice does make perfect, so the ultimate advice is to try, try, try again! But below, you can also learn about the difference between wakesurfing and wakeboarding, why a bigger wake is better, and some other tips and tricks of the sport.

What’s the Difference Between Wakeboarding and Wakesurfing?

Wakeboarding and wakesurfing may look similar at first glance and though they both utilize a board and the wake and waves to stay afloat, there are some important differences. Below are the three biggest differences.

Wakeboarding is perhaps most similar to snowboarding, while wakesurfing perhaps most resembles surfing. Wakeboarders use boots that are connected to the board to stay on the board, whereas wakesurfers treat their board like a surfboard, standing without the help of the boots.

Wakeboarders need to hang onto the rope that connects them to the motorboat to keep their ride going, but with wakesurfing, you can let go of the rope once you’ve gotten the control and balance you need. You can then start to surf the waves the boat makes.

Wakesurfing boards also tend to be larger than a wakeboard. The average wakesurfing board is about five feet long, whereas the average wakeboard is between 4.2-4.8 feet in length.

Here’s Why a Bigger Wake Is Better
Many people wonder why a bigger wake is better and the answer is that it isn’t always. A bigger wake can be more important for wakesurfers, especially if you’re hoping to do some tricks on the waves. The bigger the wake, the more opportunity you have. Alternatively, a bigger wake for wakeboarders means you can launch yourself to truly impressive heights.

A bigger wake is most important for those looking to turn a few tricks and who need the momentum and height to achieve them. For beginners, just learning, a smaller wake is probably going to be the most helpful.

However, if you’re looking for a bigger wake, you’ll need to add more weight to your boat. This can be achieved a couple of different ways. You can add more ballast or guests to the boat (and sometimes even something like adding extra gas to the tank will work). The ultimate goal is to have the boat lower in the water, which will make the hull shift more water, giving you a bigger wake. It’s also important to take into consideration where you’re placing the weight in your boat, as that will vary the type of wake you get.

What Else Can You Share With Me For Successful Wakeboarding/Wakesurfing?

If you’re just starting to wakeboard, use a shorter rope for better success. You’ll want to start with the foot you usually lead with and don’t be afraid to stay low to the board to begin. Don’t be afraid to take your time until you find your balance — there’s no rush!

If you want to wakesurf properly, you’ll need the right equipment — a wakesurfing rope and board. Don’t try to use wakeboarding equipment just because you have it. Similarly, you’ll want to take the amount of ballast and the speed the boat is going into consideration. Have the boat start off slowly so you can get your balance and come to a standing position. The ideal positioning is to keep your feet shoulder-width apart; moving your weight to the front foot will make you go faster, while leaning back onto your back foot will “stop” you.

Try out two increasingly popular water sports this summer — don’t be afraid to dive right in!

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