Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat?

Can you wakesurf behind any boat? Lots of people seem to think it’s impossible.

There are too many dangers involved with certain types of boats, which I guess is true to some degree.

But can you find a way to wakesurf behind any boat if you don’t have any other choice?

Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat?

Yes it’s possible to wakesurf behind any boat. But it’s only safe to wakesurf behind inboard boats where the propeller is hidden underneath the boat. It’s extremely unsafe to wakesurf behind outboard boats and you’ll always need to stay far away using a rope.

Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat Safely?

No it’s not possible to wakesurf behind any boat safely, so you should avoid doing it at all costs unless you have no other choice. We’ve just talked about the types of boats you should wakesurf behind safely, but we’re going to discuss the topic in much more detail right now.

So there are two great inboard boats you can surf behind safely on the best wakesurf boards without needing to worry. Here are the two boat setups you should focus on when wakesurfing:

  • Direct drives
  • V-drives

Direct drives – On direct drive boats the engine is positioned in the middle of the boat, so it minimizes the amount of wake produced.

V-drives – On V-drive boats the engine is positioned at the rear of the boat, so it creates a much bigger wake maximizing rider performance.

Direct drive and V-drive boats might create different sized wakes, but they do have one thing in common. The propeller in each boat is hidden underneath and can’t be reached easily. So even if you fall off your wakeboard a few feet from the boat you’re not going to hit it.

Wakesurfing Boats With Visible Propellers

Even though you can technically wakesurf on boats with visible propellers you should stay away from them if possible. Smart surfers wouldn’t even use them to wakesurf using a long rope. Here are two types of boats with motors you should stay away from at all times:

  • Outboards
  • Stern drives

Outboards – You’ve probably seen outboard boats before because they’re pretty common. They are boats with an engine and propeller on the outside of the boat, so it’s very easy to come into contact with propellers.

Stern drives – Inboard/outboard (stern drive) boats combine power on the inside with drive on the outside, so even though the engine is inside the boat the propeller is too easy to come into contact with.

Do you enjoy taking chances with your life? I think most people who continue to wakesurf behind outboard boats do so because they don’t appreciate the dangers of riding a wake 10 feet away from a propeller. As long as you don’t go too close everything is okay, right?

Well here are a couple of excellent reasons why you shouldn't take any chances for the sake of a good wake:

  • Pumping the board
  • Mechanical failure

Pumping the board – When you’re riding up and down the waves it’s easy to create lots of forward velocity. Some wakesurfers even do this once they’ve finished a session when they want to get back on the boat. I don’t think you would do it on purpose when using an outboard boat.

But you’ve got to admit you could accidentally create enough speed to catch up to the boat where you could be in an extremely compromising position. One wrong move and your life would be over. Wakesurfers ride on wakes too close to boats to take any chances whatsoever.

Mechanical failure – This is probably the most dangerous scenario because you have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. What would you do if the boat you were surfing behind suddenly started to slow down? What if you didn’t even notice what was happening right away?

You could be too busy doing spins and jumps to realize you were approaching a visible propeller at high speed. How often do boats suffer from mechanical failure when you’re wakesurfing? Maybe not much, but that’s still too often to take chances with your life.

There are three things you need to avoid when wakesurfing, which is why direct drive and V-drive boats are favored:

  • Death
  • Sliced limbs
  • Exhaust fumes

Death – Speaks for itself.

Sliced limbs – If your arms or legs go anywhere near a boat propeller you can slice yourself up pretty bad. It’s not going to take much to take off your entire arm or leg. Even if your body doesn’t end up too close to the propeller you can still end up with a few fingers missing.

Exhaust fumes – When an exhaust protrudes from the back of the boat anyone wakesurfing directly behind it will inhale lots of nasty fumes. Even though it won’t necessarily cause immediate damage it’s going to affect you in the long term if you’re inhaling exhaust fumes all the time.

Wakesurfing Behind An Outboard Boat Safely

When you’re wakesurfing behind direct drive and V-drive boats it’s normal to stay within 10 feet of the boat where the wake is ideal. You might find yourself getting closer and moving away throughout your time in the water, but you never really stray out of the area.

Anyone who insists on wakesurfing with an outboard boat must use a rope so they can stay at least 15 to 30 feet away from the boat at all times. If you begin to creep closer to the boat you must do everything in your power to avoid it, which could even include bailing.

You’ll only be going around 10 to 15 miles per hour when wakesurfing, so bailing into the water is no big deal. Wakeboarders generally move at speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour if you need something to compare it to, so bailing is an attractive option vs getting close to the boat.

As long as the drive is trimmed up a little you’ll have okay 3 foot waves around 30 feet away from the boat. Nothing like the wakes created using direct drive and V-drive boats, but you won’t be risking your life.

How To Create Bigger Wakes On Inboard Boats

Boats create a disturbance in the water when they pass through it at high speed. When boats are sitting deeper in the water they create a bigger wake you’ll be able to surf. Maybe if you go wakesurfing with other people there will be enough weight on your boat to create wakes.

In most cases, you’ll need to design the perfect wake using a couple of methods. Let’s discuss them so you’ll know how to achieve the perfect wake every time you want to go wakeboarding:

  • Ballast bags
  • Wake shaper

Ballast bags – Ballast tanks are compartments inside boats that hold water and heavy objects to improve stability. Now you can get ballast bags to help weigh down your boat in the right places. You’ll have flexibility distributing the weight exactly where you want.

The positions you place the ballast bags will depend entirely on the wakesurfing boat you’re using, but most of the weight will usually go on the rear corner where you want to surf the wake. The ballast bags can hold over a thousand pounds in water and come in different sizes.

Wake shaper – If you want the best waves possible wake shapers are also an essential tool to use. It’s basically a small device that you attach to the boat on the opposite side you want to create a great wake. It usually attaches through suction cups and floats around if it falls off.

A wake shaper is designed in a way that it creates perfectly shaped wakes when it displaces water, so the name says it all. Some of the designs are better than others and new models are coming out all the time, but they’re all designed to do the exact same thing.

Can You Wakesurf On Any Boat Type?

Hopefully you’ve figured out some boat types are going to be better than others for wakesurfing. Sporting and cruising boats are capable of creating good wakes because they’re hydrodynamic and lightweight. Boats need to displace water while moving fast at the same time.

Racing boats aren’t good at towing wakesurfers so you would never be able to get into position. Pontoon boats are so slow you won’t be able to build up enough speed to wakesurf. And some boats will be so large it’s pointless even trying to wakesurf behind them.

Maybe you’ll need to rent a boat to go wakesurfing, or perhaps you’re thinking of buying one pretty soon. As long as the boat can create a wake even if you need to use ballast bags and a wake shaper, you only need to make sure it’s a direct drive or V-drive inboard model.

Can You Wakesurf Behind Any Boat?

You can wakesurf behind more or less any boat as long as it’s heavy and fast enough. But that doesn’t mean you should because some are unsafe to wakesurf behind. Hopefully you’re smart enough to stay away from boats with a propeller even if it’s covered by a swim platform.