Ballast Guide for Wake Makers

Posted by SkiSafe         1

Over the past few years, wake surfing has exploded in the wake boat community, becoming as popular as wakeboarding and water skiing. With this increased interest in wake surfing, there have been a ton of theories circling around the community on how to generate the best wake. Many of these approaches are actually dangerous to the boat and will not give you a good wake. We wanted to dedicate this guide to creating the perfect wake in a safe way.

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THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE THEORY

Essentially the heavier the boat, the lower it will sit in the water, creating a better wake. In more detailed terms, the boat is displacing space that would otherwise be occupied by the water. The volume being occupied by the boat is known as the displacement of the hull. This number is determined by a variety of things, such as gross boat weight, surface area, and more. Overall, the lower the boat is sitting, the more water the boat’s hull is displacing.

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THE PROBLEM

An increase in boat weight does lead to an increase in wake size. When purchasing a wakeboarding boat, most will come with a fully functioning ballast system that will help with wake surfing. However, many wake makers will try to increase the boat’s weight beyond this ballast system and beyond the maximum weight capacity. This is a bad idea and can make your boat more vulnerable to sinking.

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THE SOLUTION

Making the perfect wake involves many more factors than simply increasing weight. While it is true that more weight will increase the wake-size, it is important to apply that in moderation. Many will throw extra bags, equipment, or people on the boat to increase weight. This is a dangerous solution that can lead to a weight exceeding what the craft can safely handle. Add weight economically and do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Aside from wake-size, the shape of the wake is also important. The shape will be determined by the configuration of the ballast throughout your boat. Experiment with the configuration until you find the perfect combination for your specific vessel. As an overall rule-of-thumb you can follow these guidelines:

  • Increased weight added to the back of the boat = increased height and decreased length.
  • Increased weight added to the front of the boat = decreased height and increased length.

You can play around with the placement of your ballast. Remember that every boat is different and a certain configuration may create the perfect wake for one type of boat but not another. There is no simple formula to the perfect wake, however many wake makers recommend a 60/40 ratio for configuring the weight between the back and front of the boat. You want to add more weight to the stern of the boat to create a sufficient wake, but not too much where the overall weight of the boat is at an extreme unbalance. The 60/40 ratio is a good starting point to follow.   

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WAKESURF INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY

Newer wake board boats, post 2012, have wake surf systems that automatically add an even amount of weight to both sides of the craft. The technology allows boaters to switch the side of the wake with a single-button. With this ability to evenly balance the boat, you can fill more of the bags, resulting in a bigger wake.

If you have an older boat, you can still experience a wake surf system. Many of these systems can be installed on older boats. Here are some popular options:

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SAFETY TIPS 

  • Surf in deeper waters. Anything over 8’ in depth will make for the best wake surf conditions.
  • Drain your ballast before putting the boat back on your lift or trailer.
  • Don’t add too much weight to the boat’s stern or side.
  • Never, never, never exceed your boat’s maximum weight capacity, according to the manufacturer, no matter how big a wake you might be able to make.

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Jack

Jack
08/13/2019

If you are the driver, watch where you are driving, not the surfer. You have an observer for that.
If you are the driver, stay away from pontoon boats and sailboats because your wake can swamp a boat.
If you are the driver, stay a good distance from shore because your wake can damage boats that are moored or tied to docks, and the wake can cause erosion of the shoreline.

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