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Can You Wake Surf Behind A Yacht?

Photo Credit: @kyle_fox

Although many wakeboarding boats can kick up a pretty large wake, it usually doesn’t compare to the massive wakes some yachts make. With a larger wake, it makes wake surfing so much easier and opens you up to many new tricks that are now possible.

But can you wake surf behind a yacht? Yes, you can wake surf behind a yacht, but it is only meant for very skilled wake surfers. The yacht has to be an inboard direct drive or an inboard V-drive. Also, the surfer should stay around 7 to 12 feet away from the stern of the boat.

Only skilled wake surfers should be attempting this. The surfer needs to stay farther away from the yacht than in a regular surf boat, which many beginners won’t be able to do. Also, the surfer usually needs to be taken by a jet ski into the wake because it’s very hard to pick up someone who has fallen with a yacht.

What’s an inboard direct drive and an inboard V-drive?

The inboard direct drive and V-drive are the only two propulsion types meant for wake surfing (also jet propulsion but no yachts are jet-powered). This means outboard and inboard/outboard (IO) engines cannot be surfed behind.

Inboard direct drive and V-drive engines typically have a shaft that comes from the hull of the boat that has a propeller at the end. A rutter is usually used for steering. excuse my awful artistic skill, but they look like this:

The propeller is far under the boat, which makes it very unlikely for a wake surfer to get injured by it. Outboard and inboard/outboard (IO) engines arent like this. Their propeller sticks out under the boat, which causes a great risk that the wake surfer could be injured by the propeller.

This is what an inboard/outboard (IO) looks like:

Most yachts have an inboard motor that will be ok for wake surfing, but there are a couple that have an inboard/outboard style. Make sure you know which engine type your yacht has before going wake surfing.

The importance of a jet ski

Although it is possible to start with a tow rope behind a yacht, it is very difficult to pick you up once you fall. This is why having a jet ski to pick you up is essential. The jet ski can then drive you back to the wake, and you have to let go of the tow rope to fling yourself back into the wake.

A beginner cannot do that! it takes practice and the ability to slow yourself down so you don’t fling into the back of the yacht. Check out the video below to see how these skilled surfers do it:

Advantages of yacht wake surfing

  • Multiple people on one wake
  • Bigger wake makes tricks much easier
  • Your pretty much the coolest on the lake

Disadvantages of yacht wake surfing

  • Yachts have release carbon monoxide so you need to stay farther back in the wake
  • Need a jet ski to pick surfers up
  • Not meant for beginners

How fast should you go while wake surfing behind a yacht?

Generally, you should go any faster than 13 mph when wake surfing, but that’s meant for wake surfing boats. Sometimes yachts have to go up to 18-23 mph to get an optimal wake size. Usually the bigger the yacht, the faster they need to go.

Should you use a wedge on a yacht?

Using a wedge can help make your wake bigger, but all of the ones currently on the market are not meant for yachts. Most swells aren’t made to withstand speeds any faster than 13 mph, so some yachts that need to go faster than that won’t be able to use them.

Also, a production wedge won’t make nearly the same impact on a yacht as it would on a wake surfing boat. They really aren’t worth the small advantage it would give. I have seen some custom-made wedges that are massive on yachts before that work pretty well.

Sam