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Conceived by surfers in the 1950s and 1960s, wakesurfing has taken water sports by storm. It has quickly become one of the most popular sports behind a boat. But only in the last decade has boat and board designs allowed wakesurfing to reach new heights by developing advancements like wake shapers and ballast tanks. Even with the perfect wake surf boat, there are factors to consider. Creating a killer surf wave for your boat is all about finding balance. There’s ballast weight, boat speed, surf systems, and water depth all to take into consideration—and sometimes less is more. This article outlines key elements that make an excellent wake surf wave:

Ballast: The Key to Creating a Surf Wave

Weight is what creates the wave. Too much weight sinks your boat (clearly), and too little doesn’t create any wave. Before the days of surf systems and boat ballast, creating a surf wave involved stacking six friends on one side of a boat to make ballast. The bigger your friends, the better the ballast. No friends? No problem. Wake surfers would throw in some lead bags or ballast bags to weigh down the boat. But at last, boat manufacturers realized a better way to create a surf wave, and built-in fillable hard tanks and ballast bags were born. As the boats have gotten bigger and can hold more weight, the waves have increased in height, become longer, and more versatile.

Speed: Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow

Think of it as the sweet spot. By going too fast, the wave doesn’t have time to generate and washes out. By going too slow, the wave crumbles away. Typically, a boat speed of about 10 to 12 mph creates a perfect wave for most surfers. Some bigger/heavier adults may need a slightly faster speed, and smaller kids may need a slightly slower speed.

Water Depth: Big Lakes, Big Waves

Once a boat is weighed down by ballast, bags, passengers, or all of the above, the water underneath is dispersed outward. Overall, the deeper the body of water, the better. When there’s deeper water, more can be dispersed, creating a larger and more solid wave. In shallow water, waves tend to disappear because there isn’t enough water to support the wave, so it’s much softer. Typically, a minimum depth of about 10 to 15 feet is when solid waves start to form.

Surf Systems: Technological Advancements Meet Towboats

Most modern towboats are equipped with a surf system including all MasterCrafts, except for the ProStar which is designed for skiing. But no worries! If you are looking to surf behind a boat with no surf system, such as an older direct drive or v drive, we got you covered.

With MasterCraft’s SurfStar, forming an epic wakesurfing wave is simple. One-button control gives drivers control over all the variables (ballast, speed, and shaping device angles). Users can pick the best wave for them, and then the ballast fills, the surf tabs deploy, and cruise control sets the speed automatically. Once each rider finds the perfect balance of all the factors, MasterCraft drivers can save the setting as a personalized surf profile.

Most wakesurf boats have surf systems, but unfortunately, they don’t use surf tabs to make an adjustable wave. What does that mean for you? There’s not nearly enough customization for beginners or kids. On the other hand, MasterCraft’s SurfStar System can customize the perfect wave for you and your family. Read more about it here.

Now that You Have the Perfect Wave…

We want everyone to love wakesurfing as much as we do, but that requires a little bit of boating etiquette. We know you love your new sound system, but nobody else loves it quite as much as you. No wake zones? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. Staying 200-feet from the shoreline is also important. Everyone deserves to have a solid day on the water, so don’t be that guy.


We hope this has given you a better understanding of wake surfing waves and that you’re ready to find the perfect balance. As always, please contact your local Action Water Sports with any questions. We’re always here to help!


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