Wake boarding is a relatively new water sport that is both fun and challenging. While the sport is a mixture of surfing and ski boarding, it has developed its own techniques, gear, and maneuvers. One of the first things that wakeboarders need to figure out is why do you need a ballast system, and how that system works. There are many ways of creating a wake and no hard and fast rules about how to add ballast. Creating the perfect wake is very much a matter if individual choice.
A new and challenging water sport
Water sports like waterskiing, surfing and wakesurfing are a popular way to spend time on the water while giving your spirit of adventure free rein. As of 2016, about 13.8% of the U.S population participates in water sports. Among Millennials, the number is higher and 19.6% of this demographic participates in water sports.
One of the most challenging and exciting water sports is wakeboarding. Wakeboarding is a relatively new watersport, but has a core of dedicated followers. It was developed in the late 1970s, as a combination of ski boarding and waterskiing. By 2015, the number of wakeboarders has risen to about 2.5 million in the U.S. alone.
Boats and gear
Wakeboarding is like wake surfing but uses a much smaller board. Wakeboards can measure between 4.2 and 4.6 feet in length. Wakeboards are made of buoyant materials that will float. They typically have a core made of foam, honeycomb, or wood surrounded by fiberglass. Bindings and fins are attached with metal screws.
Wake boarding ropes too are different from wakesurfing ropes. They are usually longer and the ideal length is somewhere between 52 and 78 feet. Wake surfing ropes are usually about 20 feet in length. Just as important as finding the right gear is finding the right boat.
Why do you need a ballast system?
While there are 12.7 million households in the U.S. that own a boat, you can’t just head off with any boat that you can find. First of all, for safety reasons, it must be a boat with an inboard engine. An outboard engine or any boat with an external propeller cannot be used for wakeboarding. This is an essential safety rule. Then the boat needs a ballast system, which is how the wake is produced.
What does a ballast system do? In general, adding to the weight in the front of the boat creates a wake that is shorter but longer. Adding more weight to the back of the boat reverses this and creates a wake that is longer but has less height. Adding weight to one side or another creates more of a wake on that side. Some boat manufacturers now produce wakeboarding-specific boats that come with a factory-installed ballast system. Other ways to add ballast are adding passengers, ballast bags, and wake shapers to the boat.
There are no hard and fast rules for how to create the ideal wake, and most people find their optimum set up through a process of trial and error. Once you’ve figured out why do you need a ballast system and how it works, you’re ready to take the show out on the road. Or on the water, in this case.