Wakesurfing: The Ultimate “How-To” Wake Surf Guide

Aug 29, 2021 | How To Guides

Waking up early on the weekends to wake surf is a great way to start your day. It’s a sport that can be done in any body of water, and it has been around for a surprisingly long time (the 1920s to be exact). Then became popularized in the mid-60s by multiple surfboard companies who claimed to have made wake-specific boards. Wake surfing is an extreme sport that requires balance, strength, and coordination. This beginner-friendly guide will teach you all about wake surfing.


What Is Wakesurfing?

Wake surfing is a wakeless water sport that is a derivative of wakeboarding. The surfer starts off on the boat or in the water with a rope to position themselves close enough to the wake that the water carries them. Once in the wake, you can throw the rope and freely ride the waves solely off the momentum generated from the water.

The buoyancy of just a wakeboard or surfboard underfoot provides enough assistance to surf on mostly flat surfaces. Wakesurfing can generally be done with any surface standing in for an ocean wave: river waves, lake waves, or wakes created by motorboats.

In order to achieve momentum while wake surfing you should use your arm and leg muscles in coordination with rising up on your toes while crouching down (pushing off) with your back leg as required so that the momentum will carry you.

Wakesurf Essentials: What you need to get started.

  • Lake – Any open body of water is great for wake surfing. Come to Michigan and learn how to wake surf with the boys at Sol Surf Co.
  • Boat – A wake surf boat is shorter than a wakeboarding boat and has the wakeboards attached on one side. These boats typically have ballast tanks, which provide stability and allows you to control aspects of the wake that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to adjust. Although having these luxuries are nice, you can use any boat that generates even a wake. You don’t need an expensive boat to wake surf.
  • Wakesurf board – The wake surfing board is shorter and wider than a wakeboarding boat with the fins in the middle of the bottom creating more stability for standing on it.
  • Wakesurf rope – Wake surf rope is a line stretched between the wakeboarder and the wake on which they are surfing.

How To Get Up On A Wakesurf Board

Getting up on a wakesurf board is super easy. There are actually two different ways you can do it. Let’s break down both options.

Option one: Getting up from the boat.

To get up from the boat, place the front of the board on the step on the back of your wake boat.

Grab onto the rope and bend your knees with an athletic stance.

With the boat moving, press down on your back foot, dipping the back of the board into the water. Keeping your knees bent simply let the water pull you out away from the boat.

Option two: Getting up while in the water.

  1. While in the water sit down with your feet in front of you, and your chest pointing outward; engaging your core for stability.

2. With the board in front of you at your feet, place the heels of your left foot and right foot on the board so that it stays in front of you horizontally.

3. Now grab onto the rope with your hands and the rope between your knees.

4. Once you have a comfortable position, give your driver a thumbs up.

5. With your knees bent and core engaged let the boat pull you up.

It’s important to let the boat pull you up, so let the boat do all the work. Once you have a little bit of speed generated you can turn your hips and stand up on the board!

How to get up on a wake surf board

How to surf behind a boat?

Surfing behind a boat can be achieved with a wakesurf board. The wake surfboard is shorter and wider than a wakeboarding boat with the fins in the middle of the bottom creating more stability for standing on it.

You can either get up into place as described above or you can wait until your driver throttles up, which will create enough wake energy to push you onto your feet.

How does wake surfing work?

The Physics of Wakesurfing – A wake is generated by the boat as it moves through the water. The boat’s hull displaces the water and that water moves back up to where it was originally. This consistent water flow creates a wave that moves in the same direction as the boat.

The more weight you have in the front of the boat the longer the wave will be, but it will also be shorter in height. The opposite is true if you want a tall but shorter wake in length.

Can you Wakesurf behind any boat?

No, you can’t surf behind any boat. That’s because surfing behind boats with exposed propellers is dangerous. Technically it is possible to surf on any boat that creates a wake, but you’d be putting yourself at risk of hitting a propeller from a boat with a boat that has an outboard motor. You can, however, surf safely behind most inboard boats. Here are the best boats for wakesurfing:

Popular Wakesurfing boats. Finding the right boat.

MB boats, Malibu, and Centurion.

These boats have ballast tanks for stability and wake control, as well as everything else you need for watersports, especially wake surfing.

Sol Surf Co - Wakesurf boat

What is a Wakesurf boat?

A wakeboard boat is a boat that you wakeboard on. It is also known as wakesurfing boat. This type of wake boat has ballast tanks for weight control, which provide stability and allows you to control aspects of the wake that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to adjust.

Is Wake Surfing Safe?

Wakesurfing Safety 101 – Potential Dangers

  • Propellers – Try to stay away from wakesurfing behind boats that have exposed propellers.
  • Running into the boat – Create a bigger wake so that you can increase the distance behind the boat

The bigger the wake that is generated by the boat the further one can go from the ship while still having a wonderful ride. The best way to increase your wakefulness is to increase your sleep levels.

Most Popular Wakesurfing Tricks

Sean Silveira

Popular Wakesurfing Tricks

  • Pumping – Turning up and down the face of the wake to gain speed.

• Stalling – Applying pressure to the back foot to slow down or “stall”.

• Floater – When a rider and board “floats” on top of the wake.

• Lipslide – Just like a floater, but the board is sideways.

• Spray – Gouging into the face of the wake to create the water under the rider to explode and spray.

• Fire hydrant – Placing one hand on the board and taking the front foot off.

• Posing – Doing hand and body positions while riding for cool style points.

• Hang 5 – Rider extends front foot (toes) over the front of the board.

• Rail grabs – Grabbing the board’s rail while the board is on the wake – one or both hands.

• Cutbacks – Bashing off the lip of the wake with the board – the more extreme and risky the better.

• Paddle back in – Going to the extreme rear of the wake, throwing down on the board, and paddling back into the power zone. This can also be done by pulling the outside rail of the board to bring it back to the power zone.

• Tubing it – Throwing down on the board and sliding back into the tube until covered up – the deeper the better, and then popping out and standing back up on the board.

• Switch stance – Riding with the opposite foot forward.

• 180 spin – Spinning 180 on the wake – Board and rider spin.

• Airs – Launching off the lip with the board into the air and landing back on the wake (toeside or heelside).

• One-hand grab air – Grabbing one rail of the board while the board is airborne above the wake.

• Double Grab Air – Grabbing both rails of the board while the board is airborne above the wake.

 Hang 10 – Rider extends both feet (toes) over the end of the board.

• 360 spin – Spinning 360 on the face of the wake – Board and rider spin.

• 540 spin – Rider spins continuously 1 1/2 times until he is riding switch stance forward.

• 720 spin – Rider spins continuously 2 complete 360′s.

• Air 180 – Doing an air while spinning 180 in the blind direction.

• 180 air – Doing and air and spinning a 180 in the air and landing in with a switch stance.

• 180 shove it – Spinning just the board 180 under your feet and landing with the board “backward”.

• 900 spin – Rider spins continuously 2 1/2 times until he is riding switch stance forward.

• 360 shove it – Same as a 180 but you spin the board a full 360 under your feet. Note: rider does not spin only the board spins.

• Big Spin – Same as a 360 shove-it, only the rider spins a 180 at the same time the board does a 360.

Common Questions

Is wake surfing easy?

Wake surfing is not difficult, but you might want to learn from a wake riding professional.

What is a wake in surfing?

A wake is created when a boat is pushed through the water. The wake is made up of waves from the wake of the boat. These waves can be up to 10 feet high. Wake surfers ride on top of these wakes and use their wakeboards, wakesurf boards, wake skis, wake snowboards, wake stand-up paddleboards, or surf skis to travel at high speeds behind a boat and perform various tricks on top of the wake.

Is Wakesurfing harder than surfing?

Wake surfing is not as hard as wakeboarding. You can wake surf in the same conditions that you would wakeboard in. However, it’s less physically demanding because you’re not being pulled by a rope the whole time.

Why is wake surfing so popular?

There are many reasons wake surfing is popular. First, wake surfing is a newer sport and became popular on popular social media channels as it has been included in many TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube reels. Wake surfing gives people the opportunity to jump off of waves that are literally taller than they are. It can be done in really any type of water there is; from saltwater to freshwater or in big waves to still waters.

Can you surf the wake of a boat?

Yes, surfing behind a boat is known as wakesurfing.

When did wake surfing become a thing?

It’s speculated that wakesurfing started in the 1920s and popularized in the mid-1960s when multiple surfboard companies claimed to have made wake-specific boards. Now popular social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram reels have made the sport more mainstream than ever.

How fast do you pull a Wakesurfer?

Typically when wake surfing you’re going between 18-20mph

Who is the best wake surfer?

Austin Keen was the number one ranked professional Wakesurfer of 2019.

Austin Keen, John Akerman, Noah Flegel, Drew Drennan, Jake Caster, Sean Silveira, Tommy C, Ryan Deese, Connor Burns.


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