Unlike wakeboarding in which the athlete rides on a short board and is towed by a rope behind a motorboat, in wakesurfing the athlete is riding on the wake created by the boat without being directly pulled by the boat itself. Naturally, most any motorboat is likely usable if you want to go wakeboarding. But is the same true for wakesurfing? Does it matter which boat you use to wakesurf? What boat can you wakesurf behind?
The short answer is yes, it matters. You cannot (and should not) wakesurf behind any boat.
The nature of the sport of wakesurfing determines what boat can be used safely. The surfer has to be sufficiently close to the boat (as little as 10 feet), unlike wakeboarding in which the surfer can be much further away (as much as 60-90 feet). So the boat you use to wakesurf must have a propeller that is not exposed in the back (outboard motor). It’s dangerous otherwise. We don’t need to go into a lot of detail but just consider what would happen if for some reason the boat rapidly slowed down but its blades were still spinning. Yikes.
What To look for
Any good wakesurfing boat should of course be inboard, and V-Drive specifically. (D-Drive is more well suited for waterskiing as there is significantly less wake.) Another very important element of a good boat for wakesurfing, that is to say one that creates waves big enough to surf on is a system of ballasts, such as water tanks or heavy objects in different sections of the boat, which weigh the boat down to create a larger wake.
Ideally, the best place to configure the weight is going to be on the back corner on the same side the athlete will be surfing. The deeper the boat is in the water the larger the wake will be. It’s also good for there to be some weight at the stern of the boat, again on the same side as the surfer will be on. This will help produce a better wake and simultaneously washout the opposite side. There are other boat features that are conducive to wakesurfing. For example, using wave plates that extend below the random or off to either side of the boat will divert and displace more water which creates larger more easily surfable waves. There are also various hull designs for boats that have wakesurfing in mind specifically.
If you’re new to wakesurfing, consider using a boat with a wakeboard tower. Naturally, you can use this to elevate the tow point of the rope, which helps to pull the surfer up for more airtime, but can also be used to help keep the surfer in the pocket of the wave without having to consider or worry about prop wash.
Before you go wakesurfing for the first time there’s certainly going to be a lot of things to consider. But one thing you should check before you agree to wakesurf behind someone else’s boat, for example, is make sure that the boat does not have an outboard motor.