How Much Ballast Is Needed For Wakesurfing?

Sep 30, 2021 | Ballast

Wakesurfing is an increasingly popular sport and it’s super fun having the ability to ride waves freely, behind a boat on the lake. The problem is how do you get the right amount of ballast to set the perfect wave for wake surfing? Here are some tips that will help you find out how much ballast you need for wake surfing.

How Much Ballast for Wakesurfing? – Content Summary

The right amount of ballast needed for wake surfing depends on your boat, but you should start with a 750lb bag in the rear, and some smaller bags in the front to stabilize the wave. Fill each bag up slowly and see how the wake responds to your boat.

The best way to create the perfect wake surfing wave is by using ballast weight to shape your wave.

Adding more weight to the rear of the boat will make a taller wave. Adding more weight to the front will make a longer wave.

A good rule of thumb is to add 60% of your weight to the rear, and 40% of your extra weight to the front of the boat for a smooth, clean wave that’s long and tall enough for surfing.

If you have absolutely no additional weight to your boat, start by adding a 750lb ballast bag to the rear of your boat. Then add smaller bags to the front to help even out the wave.

The only way to know for sure what is best for your boat is to experiment with your weight distribution. You can add extra people to your boat in the front and rear to see how that helps as well.

The Physics – How To Create The Perfect Wave

boat water

A stock boat without any ballast is unlikely to create a strong wake surf wave because it’s not heavy enough to displace enough water.

The amount of water displacement will ultimately depend on the weight of your boat. This is where ballast comes into play.

The more weight you have in the front of your boat the LONGER your wave will be.

The more weight in the back of your boat the TALLER your wave will be.

Evenly distributing weight with ballast will allow you to create a wake that is perfect for you.

More Rear Weight Equals Taller Wave

taller wake with rear ballast weight

As you can see in the picture above, adding 100% of your ballast weight to the rear of the boat will create a larger wave that is shorter in length. So, if you are looking for a taller wave you can add some ballast bags to the rear of your boat.

A taller wave doesn’t necessarily mean a better wave though and could create some choppy water. The best wave for wake surfing is tall enough to ride, but also smooth and longer in length for more riding area. So how do you create the perfect wave? Even weight throughout the boat is the answer.

More Front Weight Equals Longer Wave

adding front ballast weight causes longer and smoother wakesurfing wave

Most newer boats have automatic ballast controls, so you won’t have to buy ballast bags, as they already have built-in ballast throughout the boat. For older boats, you can still create an awesome wake by adding extra weight. A good rule of thumb for creating a good wake is 60% rear weight and 40% front weight.

Always be cautious about how much weight you plan to add because you don’t want to capsize or sink your boat by overdoing it.

How To Create Weight Without Ballast Bags

People can help add weight to shape your wave. If you have a group of people out on the boat you can have people in your group move to different parts of the boat to help shape the wave. For example, let’s say you want your wake to be taller.

For a Taller wake, move people to the back of the boat, on the side you want the wave to be.

For a Shorter but longer wake, move people to the front or center of the boat on the side that you want your wake to be.

Where To Add Ballast & What Is The Best Ballast Placement?

You should add ballast to the rear and front of your boat. You can also add ballast to the center of the boat, as most modern boats have an even ballast distribution.

Work With Your Boat’s Weight Capacity

To increase the effectiveness of ballast, you should use as much weight as possible. This means that if your boat has a maximum capacity of 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and you can only load it with 100 pounds (45 kg), then this is better than loading up your boat with 150 lbs (68kg). If you are trying to achieve maximum stability, you should try to use all the weight capacity of your boat.

What Type Of Ballast To Use?

The most important thing is not where to add ballast or what type of ballast material are you using, but rather how much have you added. The more load on your boat, the more stable it will be when in motion and stationary. If you fill your boat with sand, it will be less effective than if you used water as ballast.

How To Fill and Drain Additional Ballast in Your Boat?

Every brand has its own integration system however most will be pretty similar.

Filling your ballast bag.

When you’re ready to fill up your ballast bags for wake surfing start by placing the bag in the location you want to add your weight. Plugin the fill connection at the end of the hose into the fill hole on your bag. Make sure the host is firmly locked into place.

Next, take your ballast pump and place it in the water over the side of your boat. Once it’s fully emerged in water take your extension cord and plug it into the electrical adapter of your boat.

Once your bag is almost full, make sure to burp your bag of any extra air built up in the bag. You can burp your ballast bag by loosening the air release plug located on the top of the bag.

Draining your ballast bag.

To drain your ballast bag you’ll place the pump into the fill hole on the top of your ballast bag with the hose over the side of your boat. You’ll simply repeat the steps above to get the water pumped from in the bag back out into the water.

Does Boat Speed Affect Wake Surf Wave?

While there are a lot of factors that make a boat wake, one important aspect is the speed at which it travels. The bow wave from the front end of your vessel will increase in size as you go faster and create more impact on the water below.

What is the ideal speed for wake surfing?

The ideal speed for wake surfing is 10-15 mph.

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