How to Surf Behind a Boat (Wakeboarding & Wakesurfing)

Surf Behind a Boat (Wakeboarding & Wakesurfing)

You probably had a lot of fun as a kid getting towed behind a boat on an inner tube, and maybe you also learned to use a kneeboard or water skis. But that’s not all there is!

These days, there are also some other watersports you can try when you’re out on the lake, which were inspired by ocean surfing: wakeboarding and wakesurfing.

If you don’t live near an ocean, this may be your best opportunity to surf close to home.

Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are similar in that they both feel a little bit like ocean surfing, but they are different. While a wakeboarder is towed behind a boat for the entire ride, in wakesurfing you only use the tow rope to get up on the board – and then let go and ride the wave.

One benefit of surfing on a lake instead of on ocean waves: Whether you’re wakeboarding or wakesurfing, you get a longer ride.

Of course, the biggest challenge for a beginner is learning how to get up on the wakesurfing board. Just like with water skis, it can take a little bit of practice. But once you get the hang of it, both can be a lot of fun!

One consideration is the kind of boat you use. In theory you can surf behind a lot of different boats, but specialized surf boats make it a lot easier. They’re designed to create a wake that’s ideal for surfing, with weight in the back and an ability to control the direction of the wave without anyone having to move around on the boat.

Carefree Boat Club has specialized surf boats available to members on all three lakes in the area: South Holston, Watauga, and Boone.

Here are some tips to remember when you’re learning how to get up (and stay up!) on the wakesurfing board:

  1. Know which foot you want to put toward the front of the board. Most people surf with their left foot forward, but some find the right easier.
  2. Get in the water and position yourself with both feet on the board, on the left or right depending which foot will be forward. Grab the tow rope and get ready!
  3. When you’re ready, have the person driving the boat put it in gear without any gas. This should give you just enough tug in the water to get situated on the board. Push the edge of the board closest to you under the water to flip it up to your feet; you should now be in a crouched position.
  4. Once you yell “go!” and the boat starts moving, use your legs to slowly stand up from the squat and let the boat help pull you out of the water. Hold on tight!
  5. Get outside the wake as soon as you can, shifting your weight slightly to your heels with your board pointing to the outside of the wake. If you’ve got your left foot forward, point to the left side of the boat; if you’ve got your right foot forward, point to the right side.
  6. Remember that for safety you should never to wrap the tow rope around your hand, your arm, or any part of your body; if you fall, you need to be able to let go immediately.
  7. If you’re wakesurfing, the final step is to find the “pocket” by pulling yourself closer to the boat with the rope until you feel the wave pushing you forward; you’ll know you’re in the right spot when you have consistent slack in the rope. You can now drop the rope and continue to surf behind the boat.
  8. If you don’t get up on the board on the first try, it’s ok; most people don’t. Keep trying! Once you get the hang of it, wakeboarding and wakesurfing are water sports you can enjoy for many years to come.