Learning How to Surf a Boat Wake.
No paddling. No motor. Just Mother Nature hooking me up with a free ride. That has been the draw for me. Whether catching a wave at the beach. Paddling into a downwind bump. Or snagging that wake as the boat passes by.
It all started on a freshwater lake. Years ago I dabbled in wakesurfing, well before I even knew what an SUP was. As I started stand up paddling, as boats would pass by I would try to catch the wakes. But I was unsuccessful.
As I started paddling longer boards I noticed it was a bit easier to catch these waves. But a bit more challenging to maneuver once on them. Keep in mind this back in 2012, planning hull 14' paddleboards did not exist and we were still experimenting with shapes and sizes of boards.
Today is a different story. We have so many different boards available. And all of them have made catching waves a lot easier. However it can still be a daunting task as a waist high wake passes by and tosses us off balance. These tips can help set us up for success and feel that glide, no matter the body of water we are on.
1. Let the first wake roll by. What does this mean. As we paddle and the boat passes by we want the wave to move in front of us. As it does the tail of the board will begin to pick up and the nose pointing down. As if we were going down a hill. This moment is where we start to paddle. Good, efficient strokes. As we begin momentum the board heads toward the back of the wake. That is exactly what we want. Chase that wake.
2. As we are chasing the wake in front of us. The nose may start to push water. If so we need to slide our feet back. The movements do not need to be big or aggressive. Go slow and small.
3. Once we are feeling a bit of the glide we want to point the nose of the board toward the boat. This will put us in the trough and suddenly gaining speed. This is wakesurfing.
4. Start small. The big wakes are fun. But can be humbling. Start by catch smaller boat wakes that pass by. In this scenario we can actually let 3 or 4 waves go by before paddling in. We move faster than them, so we quickly pass them.
Keep in mind not all boaters are keen to this. Most in my experience are. But know the audience. Also if someone is pulling a wakesurfer, tuber or anyone behind the boat. Be mindful. And safe. The boards do accelerate and if we do not feel comfortable with our skills, we should stay away from people.
This is my favorite way to bring the feeling of surfing to our flatwater playgrounds!