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An example of someone wakesurfing.

Wakesurfing (similar to, but not the same sport as, wakeboarding) is a water sport in which a surfer trails behind a wakeboard boat, surfing the boat's wake without being directly pulled by the boat.[1] The wake from the boat mimics the look and feel of an actual ocean wave. After getting up on the wave by use of a tow rope, wakesurfers drop the rope, and ride the steep face below the wave's peak in a fashion reminiscent of ocean surfing. Wakesurfers generally use special boards, usually five feet or shorter. An ocean wave that provides a ride of 5 seconds to 30 seconds, because the wave ends. Wakesurfers can ride boat wakes for much longer times, because the wave is virtually perpetual.


The origins of wakesurfing are somewhat disputed with multiple people and companies claiming to be at the genesis of the sport. Footage from the 1950s and 1960s shows ocean surfers experimenting with regular surfboards behind motor boats, but at the time it was more of a gimmick than a serious attempt to develop a new genre of surfing.[2] Nevertheless, the sport never really separated itself and remained a quirky appendage of ocean surfing until wakeboarding began to grow in popularity beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a result of technology to increase the size of wakeboarding wakes, the opportunity to reintroduce wakesurfing to the mass market was seized upon by several sport pioneers, including but not limited to Tim Lopes, Jerry Price, Jeff Page, Rick Lee, Mark Sher, and others. The first US design patent for a wakesurf was granted to Alfonso Corona in 1997.

Boat setup[edit]

Inboard ski/wakeboard boats are the most popular choice for this sport as the propeller is under the boat, and are less likely to make contact with the rider. Owners of inboard boats place ballast, such as water, lead weights, concrete, or other heavy objects in different sections of the boat in order to weight the boat down and create a larger wake. The best weight configuration for wakesurfing is to place the majority of the weight near the back corner side on the side you're surfing on.[3] The deeper the boat is in the water, the bigger the wake will be overall. In addition, you will want to place a larger amount at the stern of the boat on the side which the rider is riding. This will ramp the wake up on the side the rider is riding and washout the opposite side.[4] A rope length of 8 to 10 feet is recommended. Wakesurf intended ropes are generally 20 feet long, making it ideal for boats that have a tower set up. Long ski and wakeboard ropes can become hazardous for wakesurfing because it usually involves winding up the rope or tying unnecessary knots. See [1]

How to wakesurf[edit]

The wakesurfer typically begins by sitting in the water with the wakesurf board and rope in hand on the side of the wake they intend to surf. Other variations of the start exist but are either much more difficult or may present risk of injury. To begin the wakesurfer will place his feet on top of the floating board about shoulder width apart, with the bottoms of his feet facing the boat, and one or two hands on the rope, which is draped over the center of the board between the feet. The boat will then move forward slightly to take the slack out of the rope and maintain this slow forward motion to allow the surfer to feel the pull and pressure. At this point the surfer pushes down with his heels on the edge of the board, which brings the board in contact with the soles of his feet. Sometimes it is helpful to reach back behind the legs with the off hand and push down on the edge of the board between the feet to bring it upright. Once the board is in contact with the soles of the feet, the surfer then gives the signal to pull them up. The surfer simultaneously stands up and turns the front of the board in the direction of travel. Surfers who prefer to ride “goofy” foot will put their right foot forward, while “regular” foot riders will put their left foot forward. The next consideration may require some experimentation, but the surfer must decide to ride “toeside” or “heelside”, meaning they must choose the side of the wake they want to ride on. Most beginning surfers prefer to ride toeside or facing the wake. The boat accelerates at a moderate pace until the target speed is reached, somewhere between 9 to 12 miles per hour. The exact speed is determined by the shape, pitch, and length of the desired wake. Once the target speed is reached, the surfer will modulate fore/aft pressure on the board to find the “sweet spot” in the wake where the rope goes slack and is no longer needed. When the surfer is comfortable, they toss the rope in the boat or to the opposite side of the wake for retrieval by those in the boat.[5]

Trick list[edit]

Wakesurfing is still a sport in its infancy and new tricks are constantly being developed. There is a wide variety of tricks possible in wakesurfing. Here is a list of the most well-known tricks, though it is not exhaustive, and the World Wakesurfing Association no longer prints a trick list.

Pumping- turning up and down the face of the wake to gain speed.

Stalling- Applying pressure to your back foot to slow down or “stall”.

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

Lip slide- Just like a floater but the board is sideways.

Spray- gouging into the face of the wake to create the water under you to explode and spray.

Fire Hydrant- Placing one hand on the board and taking your front foot off.

Posing- doing hand and body positions while riding for cool style points.

Hang 5– Rider extends front foot (toes) over front of 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 in to 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 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 end of 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 the blind direction.

180 air- doing and air and spinning a 180 in the air and landing in with a switch stance.

180 shuv-it– spinning just the board 180 under your feet and landing with the board “backwards”.

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

360 shuv-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 shuv-it only the rider spins a 180 at the same time the board does a 360.


A variation of this sport is tanker surfing. In the Gulf of Mexico, surfers follow large tanker ships and surf on the waves they create. The wakes created by these large ships can be a mile long, providing a great ride for surfers. See Tanker Surfing.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2013, Canadian musician Chris Hau recorded a video in which he played a song on an acoustic guitar while wakesurfing.[6][7]



External links[edit]