boat checklist by Chris Ward

The Ultimate Pre-Wake Boating Checklist



Pre-launch: Your Boat




  1. Use boats with inboard motors (propulsion not visible / external from behind)


    1. Direct drive or v-drive

    2. Outboard motors present significant risk of getting caught + injured

    3. Sterndrive (performance style) boats can also work (if inboard)

  1. Use ballast to weigh the boat to create larger wakes

    1. Some boats are now designed specifically for wakesurfing

      1. Factory-added ballast systems built into the floor

      2. Pro wake boats may go out with heavy sacks for extra ballast

      3. Don’t exceed maximum manufacturer-specified weight

    2. Going out with passengers can provide additional weight

      1. Placement of passengers is key to optimal wake creation

      2. Placement will depend on the boat (see link)

  2. You can also use wake shapers to increase wake (see link in 2)

  3. Warning flag to attach to boat

    1. Notifies other boaters in case surfer is underwater / submerged

  4. Bring a spotter in addition to the driver / captain

    1. Maintains contact with surfer

    2. Can be more aware of hazards behind the boat near surfer

    3. Ensure proper placement in boat (see above)




Pre-launch: Wakesurfing Equipment




  1. Life jacket


    1. Make sure you pick one appropriately sized to your body

    2. USCG-approved

    3. Wake-specific jackets are generally lighter + more form-fitting

  1. Rope + handle

    1. Handle not necessary, but likely to be helpful for the less experienced

    2. Shorter ropes are better for beginners (30-50 feet in length)

    3. Other guides recommend 65 feet for beginners (need guidance here)

    4. Wider handles are easier to use when performing tricks

    5. Handle ergonomics + comfort are key for a good ride

    6. Thicker ropes give greater maneuverability

  2. Wakeboard!

    1. Larger boards are better to accommodate beginners

    2. Smaller boards are more maneuverable for advanced tricks

    3. Larger wakes and/or smaller people are better suited to smaller boards

    4. Big beefy fellows and/or boats throwing smaller wakes should use big boards

    5. Define / explain shape types

      1. Surf

      2. Skim

      3. Hybrid

    6. Define / explain features

      1. Rocker

      2. Rails

    7. Attachments (define / explain)

      1. Foils

      2. Fins

      3. Bindings / boots (segue to next point, below)

    8. Wakeboard bindings / boots

      1. Not necessary (per pics) but helpful

      2. Need some clarity from alliancewake on necessity of boots

      3. Flex

      4. Fit

      5. Features

      6. Compatibility with board




Getting in the water: Surfer Basics




  1. Figure out footing


    1. Right vs. left (goofy)

  1. Ensure good condition of gear before getting in the water

  2. Learn hand signals for communication w/ spotter

  3. Wait until in deep water to get out of the boat and surf

  4. Know stances and weight distribution

  5. Know pre-surf position (sitting in water waiting to start)

  6. Know what to do when you fall

    1. Try to fall backwards to avoid hitting yourself with the board

    2. Raise board out of the water after fall to increase visibility to nearby boats

  7. Never get into the boat if the motor is on




Getting in the water: Driver Basics




  1. Only go out in clear daylight hours


    1. Return to dock/shore if rain is coming

    2. Same if it’s getting dark

  1. Avoid boating near other boats

  2. Check to ensure clear communication with your spotter

  3. Maintain a consistent low speed (14-20 mph)

    1. Go easy on throttle if towing a beginner

    2. Communication with spotter is essential to safe acceleration / deceleration

  4. Don’t get drunk


article by Chris Ward


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