If you are new to water sports, you might hear the words wakesurfing and wakeboarding and wonder if they are the same thing. While wakesurfung is similar to wakeboarding in some ways, there are several major differences in terms of equipment, method and technique. Even seasoned wakeboarders need to bear these differences in mind when they decide to try wakesurfing, but don’t worry, we at Wake UP! Wakesurfing Koh Phangan are here to help you get up and riding in no time.
The most obvious difference between wakeboarding and wakesurfing is the method. In wakeboarding, the rider is pulled by the boat via a tow rope while a wakesurfer only uses a tow rope to get them started on the wave. Once a wakesurfer is up and on the wake, they drop the rope and ride freely on the wave, much like ocean surfing. Look! No hands!
Wakesurfing is popular with surfers because the wave doesn’t just end and wash you up on the shore after those exhilarating few moments. An ocean wave usually lasts for between 5 and 30 seconds, then the surfer has to paddle back out to catch the next one. A wakesurfer can ride for as long as the boat keeps providing the wave, or as long as they can stay up. Despite all this, it was a long time before wakesurfing became a distinct sport in its own right. Until the 80’s and 90’s, wakesurfing was very much a fun experiment by ocean surfers. Over time, it has evolved and become a hugely popular sport outside of traditional surfing. The other advantage is that you don’t actually need to be near the sea to do it. Many wakesurfing spots are inland in lakes. We just happen to be lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful, warm, azure waters here so wakesurfing in Koh Phangan is enjoyed right off the stunning sandy beaches.
We have two boats at Wake Up! Both are suitable for wakeboarding but we favour the MasterCraft for wakesurfing- not just because it has a cool name either. MasterCraft is the most well recognised (and popular) brand for wakesurfing, water skiing and wakeboarding. As well as good quality and high-performance, an important thing to look out for is a boat that can be weighted heavily towards the back. The weight helps create the wake and we do this with ballast in the form of water in the onboard ballast system and extra containers filled with sand to create a nice fat wave.
Another nice little difference is that compared to wakeboarding, wakesurfing happens much closer to the boat. This makes it more sociable as your friends can sit at the back of the boat and chat to you while you ride- hopefully with words of encouragement, but that depends on the friends.
Wakesurfing continues to grow in popularity as more people realise how much fun it is and how easy it is to get up and riding if you have a little professional tuition. If you would like to try wakesurfing in Koh Phangan, contact us to make a booking or to find out more. We are happy to answer any questions and look forward to hearing from you.
PS- Watch this space for the next article in which we explain some of the basics on wakesurfing techniques!
- The Difference Between different Water Sports: Wakeboard & Wakesurf
- Ever wanted to try wakeboarding?
- Aren’t they pretty much the same thing?
- Keep reading for an introduction to these two unique water sports!
- How to Wakesurf: A Step-by-Step Beginners Guide
- LEARN HOW TO WAKESURF
- SHOW YOUR FRIENDS HOW TO WAKESURF
- No Need to Toss the Rope Right Away
- Don’t Rush It … The Wave Won’t Close-Out
- Lean into the Wake
- Don’t Fear the Swim Step (Nor the Prop)
- Have a Reliable Person Pull the Line in ASAP
- Articles and News
- You will need an inboard boat
- You Need a Rope
- Surf Boards and Wakesurfing Boards
- How to Get Up
- Positioning your Feet
- Top Speed
- Wakesurfing Is the Water Sport You Need to Try Before Summer Ends
The Difference Between different Water Sports: Wakeboard & Wakesurf
Ever wanted to try wakeboarding?
Aren’t they pretty much the same thing?
Keep reading for an introduction to these two unique water sports!
Wakeboarding evolved from a combination of various sports, namely water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing.
This sport involves coasting on the waves created by the wake of a speedboat. These waves mimic real ocean waves, big enough to ride and even do tricks upon! The rider is towed along behind the boat with a connecting rope.
By far our most popular water sports option, wakeboarding is essentially like wakesurfing, but with a few main differences.
Instead of throwing the connecting rope back to the boat after finding his or her balance as in wakesurfing, riders hold on to the rope to be kept in tow of the speedboat pulling them along.
Due to the specific type of board used in this sport, holding on to the rope is the only way to keep afloat.
Another difference is that wakeboards have boots attached that riders stay strapped into, allowing them to reach faster speeds and greater heights.
These differences make wakeboarding much easier to learn for most people.
Try wakeboarding with us!
We have 2-hour, 3-hour, and 4-hour rentals available.
Some packages can service up to 8 people, so bring your friends!
Just like wakeboarding, wakesurfing involves surfing in the wake of a speedboat, atop the waves created by the boat.
Initially, the speedboat pulls the rider out of the water as he or she holds on to the connecting rope.
Once the rider starts riding comfortably, he or she throws the rope back onto the boat, leaving his or her hands completely free!
This sport can be a bit more challenging to pick up at first, especially as riders aren’t attached by boots to the board itself. (The advantage in this is having more freedom for maneuvering and performing tricks.)
Not to worry, however; our boat crews are very friendly and helpful in teaching the basics!
Check out one of our wakesurfing packages for a private session in the gorgeous countryside of Hong Kong: Sai Kung!
How to Wakesurf: A Step-by-Step Beginners Guide
I am so excited to see you are interested in learning how to wakesurf! Amongst my friends, wakesurfing is growing quickly. The falls are less harsh than that of wakeboarding along with the energy expended during riding allowing for a full day out on the water.
Getting behind the boat on a wakesurf board the first time is intimidating, especially when you notice that it has no bindings. What the fudge!? Brah, it’s a mini surfboard. Of course, there are no bindings! No worries, I’ve got you covered. My friend Alie (the gal photographed below) and I are pros at getting newbies up and surfing the first day out behind a boat.
LEARN HOW TO WAKESURF
Once you have found a riding crew with a proper boat to surf behind you can begin the adventure! Not sure how to meet other wakesurfers? Check out my tips to get an invite onto a wake boat.
There are multiple techniques you can use to learn how to wakesurf. I will be discussing my personal favorite, which seems to be a foolproof method so far. This technique has been successful for first-timers along with those who have tried wakesurfing previously and were still struggling to stand up.
Step 1: Determine Your Stance
Your stance refers to which foot you will have at the front of the board. Left foot forward is referred to as “regular” whereas the right foot forward is “goofy”. Generally, if you are right-handed your left foot will be forward, but this is not always true.
Alie (pictured throughout this post) is a goofy rider and I am a regular rider so we make a great team in teaching.
Determine your riding stance before riding by doing a “pull test”. Have your friend take both your hands in theirs and slowly pull you towards them allowing yourself to fall forward. Whatever foot reflexes out to catch yourself will be the foot you place at the front of the board. Yes, it’s that simple!
Step 2: Get Set Up With Your Board
To start, you will use whatever surfboard is available to you. If you do have the choice, I would recommend beginning on what is called a “hybrid” style board. These boards are larger in the surface area making it easier and less intimidating to stand up. Also, it will allow you to find your surf style and which type of board will work best for you.
Jump into the water and position yourself on the proper side of the boat for your wakesurfing stance. Regular riders should be on the left, goofy riders will ride the right. Place both your feet on top of the board. Grab the rope with one hand and point your toes to the sky.
Get ready to stand sideways!
Step 3: Flip the Board up to Your Feet
When the driver sees that your ready have them put the boat in gear without any gas. This will give you a slight continuous tug in the water. Use your hand and push the edge of the board closest to you under the water.
This will flip the board up to your feet and you should now be in a crouched position (as if you were doing a squat). The wakesurf board will feel like it is suction cupped to your feet.
Place both hands back on the handle (or knot) and yell “Go!”.
NOTE: Alie and I both prefer to reach between our feet to flip the board. This is close to the handle so we can easily grab it once the board is suctioned to our feet. When newbies use their heals to flip the board to their feet, they tend to lose balance. This causes either a face-plant due to the sudden pull of the boat or falling backward for overcompensating the boats pull. Choose which method works best for you.
Step 4: Stand Up
Use your legs to stand up. It is a common misconception you are using your biceps to pull you out. Let the boat do its job in pulling you out of the water, you just need to squat up to a standing position. Work those legs and that butt and you should be able to pop right out of the water!
Step 5: Get Outside the Wake
Once standing, exit the wake as quickly as possible. Shift your weight slightly to your heels while keeping your board pointing to the outside edge of the wake. You will find yourself going that direction between that and the pull of the boat so don’t let go!
That is unless you fall, then let go immediately.
REMEMBER: Which side of the wake you are on will be determined by your stance. If you have a regular stance (left foot forward), you will aim to the left side of the boat. If you have a goofy stance (right foot forward), you will cruise on over to the right.
Step 6: Find “The Pocket”
Once outside the wake, climb up the rope pulling yourself closer to the boat. DO NOT wrap the rope around your hand, fingers, arm or any other part of your body, let it hang to the side. Get into the heart of the wave to find the “pocket” where you will feel the wave will begin to push you forward without help from the boat. You will visually see this when you have consistent slack in the rope.
Make sure you are comfortable in your stance on the board, sometimes your feet may move during standing up or you didn’t have them placed in quite the right spots from the start. Use your toes by curling them to ever so gently scoot your feet around the wakesurf board.
As your surfing and balance improve, you will find it easier to walk around the board.
Step 7: DTR! (Drop The Rope)
Once you are riding with consistent slack in the rope, you are ready to drop the rope! This may not happen your first few times riding. Don’t get discouraged, once you find that “pocket” you will be able to find it again quickly and work your way towards dropping that rope.
The pocket will vary depending on the boat you are riding behind. You will find some boats have a pocket just a couple of feet from the platform, others are farther back.
TIP: If you are uncomfortable or find yourself losing your balance when tossing the rope into the boat you can drop it to the side and have someone pull it in for you.
You are now wakesurfing! Once you start getting comfortable you will find yourself trying jumps and spins or fun poses such as the fire hydrant on the board.
Remember, be a polite guest on every boat. For some tips check out my post: The Do’s & Don’ts of Being a Boat Guest. Stay hydrated and fueled with these great boating snacks too!
Please let me know if this helped you on your first time learning how to wakesurf by commenting below. Surf’s up, good luck!
SHOW YOUR FRIENDS HOW TO WAKESURF
What’s better than #wakelife with your bestie!? Don’t keep this a secret, spread the love by sharing these images on Pinterest.
A long list of options keeps everyone (it has seating for 18) on the XT25 happy and comfortable: heated seats and heater hoses for those getting wet, a rearview camera and a dual-screen dash for for the driver, and for the partiers, hidden coolers under the seats and Bluetooth connectivity for music.
No Need to Toss the Rope Right Away
Keeping a hand on the tow rope, even with full slack, helps if you make a slight mistake and need to correct. Photo: Brady Ferdig
Once you’ve created the wake that suits your preference, it’s time to surf. Get a good feel for the board and the wave before you toss the rope back to your buddies. If it’s your first time surfing behind a boat without a rope, then it might take a few turns to get a feel for the sweet spot. It’s important to be able to identify where the power source of the wake is, so just hold onto the rope until you’ve found your position.
Don’t Rush It … The Wave Won’t Close-Out
Get a good feel for the sweet spot before you attempt to pump out to the shoulder. Photo: Brady Ferdig
Once you find that sweet spot in the wake, there’s really no need to pump your way down the line. This is something that was kind of strange to get used to. Surfing in the ocean, I typically get to my feet and immediately try to pump down the line to generate speed on the wave.
Wakesurfing is different in the fact that the speed is always there, you just have to slot your board with the right trim to really feel it. However, if you do feel yourself starting to slip behind the sweet spot, a couple of quick pumps will propel you right back into the power source where you need to be.
Lean into the Wake
Find that trim, and get a feel for the pocket on your toe side. Photo: Brady Ferdig
If you’re surfing frontside, lean on your toes to get that trim you need. Again, as a surfer it might feel a little odd to constantly be trimming up into the wave without ever easing back, but if you lean out toward open water, your momentum could propel you out into flat water where there’s no energy to keep you going.
And you don’t need a specialized board in order to properly wakesurf. You can certainly pack a board form your own personal quiver (which is something that our whole crew all agreed might be the way to go on the next excursion). A surfboard that’s short and wide with a decent amount of volume would likely be the ticket, and certainly feel more familiar to avid surfers.
Don’t Fear the Swim Step (Nor the Prop)
It looks so close, but no need to sketch out about the prop/swim step. Photo: Katie Rodriguez
This was probably the most difficult thing for me to get used to. The swim step and prop are only feet away from you. If you get just the right trim, you can quite literally speed up right into the rear end of the boat.
This can seem a bit sketchy at first, but as soon as you realize that there’s no way to actually slam into the boat or the propeller (the boat is moving much quicker than you are, and the prop is much further underneath than where the swim step is), it eases any worries and let’s you concentrate on your surfing.
Have a Reliable Person Pull the Line in ASAP
Once you toss the rope, it’s key to have someone on deck to pull it away from you. Photo: Brady Ferdig
If you really get the hang of it, then tossing the rope back into the boat all on your own is typically pretty easy. However, sometimes the surfer would toss the rope and it wouldn’t quite make it back into the boat. In these instances, the rope would bounce around in the wake, and even sometimes get tangled up in the surfer’s feet. This is where a reliable buddy standing by to pull that rope in immediately is key.
At the end of the day, our forearms felt like noodles and our quads were burning … but we all had great big smiles on our faces. In wakesurfing, the key in many ways was not to overthink it. Of course, it helped to have a boat that did most of the thinking for us.
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Articles and News
Wakesurfing is a sport that has become increasingly popular in the recent years.
It started with a couple of daredevils goofing around with boards tied to their boats and has become an exciting new watersport that is a cross between wakeboarding and surfing.
Here are some wakesurfing basics:
You will need an inboard boat
If you have a boat with an outboard engine, an engine which is mounted externally to the back of the boat, wakesurfing is not an option.
In order to ride the wake, a surfer must stay near the back of the boat, and should the rider fall, they may go towards the vessel.
Because of the danger presented by outboard motors, which do not feature protected fan blades, it is not safe to wakesurf with one.
You Need a Rope
You can’t wakesurf with just any rope, but one that “wakesurf specific”.
Wakesurfing can be dangerous when pulled by a with a thin rope which can cause nasty rope burns.
Handles on such ropes can also be quite large. Surfers do not want to run the risk of getting hit with one should it fly off the rope or come down on them when the rider goes down.
Wakesurfers should look at using thicker ropes with small handles such as the ones featured here.
Surf Boards and Wakesurfing Boards
People use to wakesurf with regular surfboards, but now there are many companies who make specific boards for wakesurfing.
Note however, that regular surfboards are not a non-option. The only major differences include the length of the board, fin sizes and buoyancy.
How to Get Up
Getting up on the board is not as difficult as it looks.
You should simply relax and lay back while placing your feet loosely on the wakesurf board. Make sure your knees are bent and start moving slowly at 2 mph, this will give you the chance to dial in.
Keep your arms straight, and try to pull yourself up.
Imagine that you’re on the floor, and someone is trying to pull you up. Simultaneously press down with you feet, and point the board in the direction of travel as you come out of the water.
Once you are up and comfortable, you can then toss the rope back to the boat or have someone pull the rope back in.
The momentum of the wake will keep propelling you forward at the same speed as the boat.
Positioning your Feet
An important question here is to what is the right width for your stance.
Usually it’s about shoulder width, but your feet can be anywhere from six to 18 inches, depending on height. Practice is the best way to find your sweet spot.
You can accelerate by shifting your weight to your front foot, and you can brake by shifting your weight to your back foot. The same applies when you shift yourself forward or backward.
Feet positioning is important because when you start doing tricks, you will need to learn to balance yourself with your feet.
The speed of the boat depends on the experience of the wakesurfer.
Beginners should start out at about 9 mph and can go as fast as 14 mph, but this depends on the amount of ballast, the hull, the boat and of course, the surfer.
Glenn S. Phillips
Glenn S. Phillips is the CEO of Lake Homes Realty. He is also an author and speaker. When not thinking about real estate and technology, he periodically plays his ugly tuba (complete with a bullet hole), enjoys exploring cognitive thinking, and prefers dark chocolate.
Tagged as: lake fun, lake life, wake boarding, wakeboarding, wakesurf basics, wakesurf for beginners, wakesurfing
Wakesurfing Is the Water Sport You Need to Try Before Summer Ends
Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images
No ocean, no problem. Thanks to the popularity of wakesurfing, some of the country’s hottest surf destinations are in landlocked states. Mellow falls (and yes, there will certainly be falls), a relatively easy learning curve, and the social aspect of wakesurfing all contribute to its reputation as one of the country’s fastest-growing water sports, says Larry Meddock, chairman of the Water Sports Association Industry in Orlando, FL.
What Is Wakesurfing?
Jokingly referred to as the “lazy man’s surfing,” the sport allows you to surf untethered in a speedboat’s wake as if riding a never-ending ocean wave. It doesn’t require the exhausting work of paddling. Surfers also don’t need to wait for Mother Nature to deliver a swell. Wakesurf-specific boats have onboard mechanisms that pump water into tanks that weigh down the boat and add to the wake to make it surfable. The propeller is also safely tucked under the boat and away from surfers. (Related: 7 Insane Water Sports You’ve Never Heard Of)
But don’t get wakesurfing confused with wakeboarding. The latter requires the rider to be strapped into boots and bindings, similar to a snowboard, and be towed up to 80 feet behind a speeding boat. Wakesurfing is slower and more minimalist: bare feet on the board, you lose the rope once you’re up, and you’re riding 10 feet from a slow-moving boat. Plus, “when you take a fall wakeboarding, it’s more like a crash,” says Dana Wyson Wright, a wakesurfer based in St. George, UT. “You can have whiplash for days.” But falling while wakesurfing feels like falling off of a paddleboard-“it doesn’t hurt,” she says.
There are two main styles of wakesurf boards. Surf-style boards have two to four fins and usually offer more stability for beginners. Skim or skate-style boards are smaller and have one or no fins and tend to be more maneuverable for tricks like 360s.
Getting up looks tricky, but the key is to relax and let the boat do the work, says Sean Cummings, a San Jose, CA–based professional wakesurfer. A life jacket (essential for safety but also helpful for beginners learning proper technique) will allow you to float in the water as you place your heels on the board and hold onto a tow rope. As the boat creates tension on the rope, the board will kind of suction to your feet, says Cummings. Once up, let go of the rope, and voilà. Got the hang of it? From there you can progress from riding to carving up and down the wave and even riding tandem.
Why You Should Try Wakesurfing
You don’t have to have any real watersport experience to try it.
Part of the sport’s appeal is its low impact. Surfers stand on the board behind a boat going about 10 miles per hour, roughly half the speed of what a boat towing a waterskier, wakeboarder, or tuber would be going.
Wyson Wright, who started wakesurfing in 2013, was hooked after her first time out. Now, the mother of two, who stayed out on the water during both of her pregnancies, takes her 4-year-old and 18-month-old on the board with her. Even her 60-year-old mom will take turns.
Getting more people into wakesurfing (and all water sports, for that matter) is an important goal for Wyson Wright. She says while many women might be first introduced to board sports by a brother, or guy friend, she wants to encourage them to not just be a cheerleader but to get out there on the water and try it themselves. “I love watching women who thought they’d never be able to get up suddenly start relaxing and having fun,” she says. “You feel like you can accomplish anything once you get over that first hurdle of getting up.” (Related: Epic Water Sports You’ll Want to Try and Four Women Who Crush Them)
You don’t have to leave your friends to enjoy it.
The close proximity wakesurfers have to their friends on the boat makes it easier to be encouraged, coached and cheered on. The rider can easily hear instructions for when to release the rope or how to position their feet. Constant feedback makes the learning much easier and ultimately makes the whole experience more fun.
“Even people who are intimidated end up getting up on the board and that gives them such confidence,” says Alex Quick, activities director at Blackberry Farm, a hotel in Walland, TN, that offers wakesurf instruction and an annual camp coached by professional athletes.
It connects the mind and body.
Shannon Paige Kenney, co-owner of Earth Yoga Boulder in Colorado, incorporates wakesurfing into her yoga teacher trainings to help students improve balance and focus, and overcome fear. “Learning something new as an adult is challenging and humbling,” she says. Following cues as you learn to wakesurf helps hone mind-body connection, she adds. “You can hear and understand the cues of ‘feet here’ and ‘heels down, toes up.’ All of those cues are simple, but in the newness of the activity we can have trouble communicating in our own body.”
It’s a killer workout.
Sure, wakesurfing is a lot of fun (even when you fall). But the sport is actually a really incredible workout, too. “It works muscles you don’t even know you had,” says Wyson Wright. “All of your tiny stabilizing muscles and muscles in your feet have to be engaged to keep you balanced on the board.” Your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves get worked, and as you progress, she says you’ll begin to use your upper body more. Professional surfers use it to practice new tricks and build muscle endurance, and even professional cyclists have embraced the sport as a fun way to cross train. In the summer, it’s way more fun than being stuck inside the gym.
Wakeboarding vs wake surfing
- By By Jen Murphy