Fat Sacs and wedges create the perfect wave
For wakesurfers, a good ride depends as much on having the right wave as it does the right board. Since we discussed boards last month, I thought I would add some pertinent information about waves /wakes for anyone who surfs – or wants to.
The “drive” or “push,” which propels the surfer forward, is dependent on the size and shape of the wave. The bigger the wave, the shorter the board can be that is ridden on it. If the wave is not large enough, the surfer will not receive the drive from the wave. The lighter the surfer, the smaller the board needed to maintain “float.” If the board is too small for the wake, the surfer will not receive the drive from the wave either.
So you have to have the right board for the wave/wake that the boat creates. Now unlike true surfers, who have different surfboards for different wave riding days, the wakesurfer tends to have one board to surf all boat wakes, big and small.
That means he has to create the type of wake he needs to surf. To do that, you have to weight the boat properly. Just because your boat came with an internal ballast system doesn’t mean you have what you need. Even with a maximum load of people, the surfer will likely have to work twice as hard than he would if the boat was weighted properly.
I have two words for you: Fat Sac, which are weighted bags that help create the wake you need. Go buy them. But before you do, make sure you do your homework. I’m going to do some of it for you. There is more than you think to properly weighting your boat. If you get in touch with Mike Seipel at Barefoot International, the makers of Fat Sac. They will provide you with diagrams on weighting a V drive and a mid-engine boat as best you can per make and model. Some bags are specifically made for certain boats, while others are made for general use.
You do not want to overweight one spot, like the back corner on the side that you surf. If you want a good tall, long wave, you have to weight the entire boat, and load one side, not corner. For a general example for a V drive, I will use my boat, an Axis A-22. I fill the internal ballast system on the side I surf – the right side because I’m a goofy rider – and fill the center. The rear locker will be filled with an additional 1,100 pounds and the right seat will have about 600 pounds. The front will have another 1,000-plus pounds, about 600 of it in the middle of the front and the other 400 on the front side.
People in the boat obviously make a huge difference, but should be worked around your base. Fill the rear locker. However, make sure you don’t weight the boat and counter weight it with people on the other side. Once you’ve dialed in the wake, keep your passengers in one spot. Moving around hundreds of pounds makes big changes in a wake. Even a large cooler filled with water, ice and drinks can be used to weight (or counter weight) the boat and change the wake.
Here’s a safety tip. Do not load a side with ballasts and people and turn the boat to retrieve a down rider by turning into the weighted side. If the weight is on the right side, turn to the right. If you turn left, you are driving that weight into the water. The vents in the rear go under, the water draws in and you are in deep trouble (no pun intended). Instead, when the rider goes down, pull to idle and then turn to the weighted side. Unless the rider is hurt, take your time and ease back.
The wedge is an option on different boats and is a preference per rider. The wedge lowers the rear of the boat, forcing it into the water creating a bigger wake. Some boats have adjustable levels on the wedge and this can be used in conjunction with the weight to clean up the wave (eliminate white wash and giving a clean lip of the wake) I say it is preference because depending on the board you are on and the size rider you are AND the weight in the boat; the wedge can be helpful and the exact opposite if used incorrectly. Used correctly the wedge will make a wake bigger, not necessarily longer. This means you will not get as much drive from the very back of the wake that you may get from the longer wake.(small kid, on a board too long would be driven constantly to the transom/platform = not good. The wedge up would REDUCE this problem, not necessarily eliminate it.) There are too many variables to list here like rider weight and size of board combinations.. regardless, the wedge is a great option to have but is not an either or choice on water weight or using the wedge. You have to have weight in the boat and lots of it.
Stay warm out there.. see you in the water.
Lake Magazine – Novemeber – Behind the Boat