Can you Wakesurf Behind any Boat?

If you have never seen someone wake surf before, the first few times might intrigue you as well as confuse you. People wake surf when they want to ride the waves of the water but the waves are too calm to ride. Another popular sport using a boat is water skiing.

You are probably intrigued by the riders and wonder, “Can you wake surf behind any boat?” This is a very common question and you would be surprised how many people wonder the same thing.

Well let’s not drag this out any longer, let’s dive into the article.

What is “Wakesurfing”?

Wakesurfing is pretty similar to waterskiing. They both require a rider and a boat. Unlike water skiing, however, wake surfing does not require the rider to hold on to a tow rope the entire time.

The rider will only use the rope to help him or her get “started” riding the waves made by the boat, and once he or she has gotten the hang of it, the rider will drop the rope. Hence, they are surfing but with a little help from the boat.

Pretty simple, huh? If you want a more in-depth definition of what wake surfing is, here is how Wikipedia defines it:

Wakesurfing is a water sport in which a rider trails behind a boat, riding the boat’s wake without being directly pulled by the boat. After getting up on the wake, typically by use of a tow rope, the wake surfers will drop the rope, and ride the steep face below the wave’s peak in a fashion reminiscent of surfing.

Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat?

The short and simple answer is no. no, you cannot wake surf just any old boat.

This might be disappointing to hear for some people because it means if you do know you have the correct boat, then it means you cannot wake surf. However, we would suggest knowing this information as a good thing.

If you are using the “wrong” boat to wake surf with, you can injure yourself or those around you can get hurt. It is better to just rent the right boat than risk anyone’s safety, even your own, just for the heck of it.

According to Riding Board’s online article, they highly advise riders to be cautious about not wake surfing on just any boat. Here is their answer to the question, “Can you wake surf behind any boat”:

No. To stay safe, you should only wake surf behind a boat whose propeller is not exposed in the back. True wake surfing involves riding less than 10 feet behind the boat, so it should only be done behind an inboard or V-drive. Wakesurfing behind an outboard is very risky as you may hit the propeller.

So what kind of boats can you wake surf behind? Well, if you have an inboard of a V-drive boat you are good to go. If not, you can always rent one at the boat shops by the river. Since water skiing and wake surfing are very popular water activities (among children and adults alike), there will be plenty of boat shops that will have them available for rent.

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Here is a bit more information about which boats are safe to wake surf behind:

Inboard boats, including direct drives and V-drives, are the only types of boats you can safely wake surf behind. In both these types of boats, the engine and drive unit are placed inside the boat, and the propeller comes out under the hull in front of the transom.

In these types of boats, hitting the propeller is unlikely as it would involve reaching further forward and a few feet under the boat to get to the prop from the riding position.

As for outboard boats and stern drives-sometimes known as inboard/ outboards or often I/O-they are not suitable for wake surfing in these types of installation.

This is because the propeller as well as the exhaust sticks out of the back of the boat. This is very dangerous because it is too close to the rider in the back. That kind of mechanic is just asking for trouble, so please do not risk it.

Is Wakesurfing Dangerous?

If there was a way to play any sport and not get hurt, well…let’s just say you would see a lot more people being active. The truth of the matter is, there is risk involved with any sport, and anyone that says there is a zero percent chance of you getting hurt by playing a certain sport is not an honest person.

We will not lie to you. There is a risk of getting hurt if you choose to wake surf, but if done right, those chances are very slim. So no, wake surfing is not dangerous if you follow the safety procedures. Here are some tips to keep safe:

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  • Have everyone who is not riding sit inside the boat: while it might be fun to have your friend ride next to you or even behind you, it is not safe. If anything happens to the rider in front, the rider in the back will get hurt.
  • Use the right rope: while it may be tempting to use any old rope to tow, especially to save time and money, trust us when we say it is not worth it. Tow ropes are designed to be used for these types of activities.
  • Wear your lifejacket: now you might be rolling your eyes at this one because of course, you know that, but you would be surprised how many people know to wear a life jacket but simply choose not to. Why? They might be too bulky or they feel “cooler” without it, either way, it happens, and when an accident does occur that is when they regret it. Do not be one of those people, and put on a lifejacket.
  • Always bring a cell phone and make sure it is charged: when people wake surf they sometimes think it will only be for an hour or so and then all of a sudden, half a day has passed. There is nothing wrong with this but if family members or friends are expecting you for lunch or dinner, they might be worried. Giving them a quick call or text would ease a lot of worried minds.

The Final Takeaway | Is Wakesurfing for You or Do You Prefer Wakeboarding

Like any sport, whether it be on land, in water, or the air, there will always be risks.

Ask any athlete or even someone who just loves doing sports for fun, and they will tell you that they have at least had a minor injury. This is completely normal and with a sport like a wake surfing, the chances do increase.

This is because unlike waterskiing, there is nothing for the rider to hold on to. If he or she falls, then the rider falls. Most of the time the result is a few laughs and other times, maybe something more serious.

Maybe the boat had to suddenly stop for some reason or maybe another boat gets in the way. The truth of the matter is, even if you and your party are super safe, it is not to say that others will be.

We cannot control others, but we can do our best to be safe and always be aware of our surroundings.

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