For this month’s Outdoor UAE, we wanted to share our experience on what wakesurfing is, how you can ride an endless wave, and the equipment you’ll need.
What is wake surfing?
Wakesurfing is riding the wave that a boat makes directly behind it. It’s done very close to the back of a boat and the best waves are made by specialized boats. You cannot do it with a boat that has an outboard engine. This is a safety issue as the propeller is dangerously close to the rider. The waves can be manipulated with extra weight or “ballast” to weigh the boat down and create a bigger, cleaner wave.
Our boat at Fahrenheit is an AXIS A24 which is way bigger than your standard wakeboat. This tends to be smaller (21 or 22ft and narrower) and it has specialized paddles on the side to create a wake on either side of the boat at the touch of a button. Various other manufacturers like Malibu and Epic also have similar set-ups and can offer good wakes.
The result is massive waist to chest high waves of 2 – 3 metres off the back of the boat. Perfect, as this sport is all about the quality and size of the wake.
The boat travels at half the speed of wakeboarding (around 11mph) so there are no speedy and nasty wipeouts – it’s gentle and fun.
The skill is not too difficult to learn. It’s easy for both guys and girls,and you’ll get up and be riding in about 10 – 30 minutes on your first go, depending on your skill level. Once you master the skills you can ride without a rope for as long as your legs will hold out which can give you a fully surfable wave for 1 – 4 minutes (or more!).
It’s also very social as most boats will carry passengers and remember: the more passengers you have, the better the waves so always bring your mates! Most of the wakeboats also have the riders close enough to give high fives and you can sit on the back of the boat while they ride and hoot ‘n holler!
Our boat has a tower of speakers so you can jam your tunes on while you ride. A lot of companies will allow you to bring your own music so check that when you book. Most groups can accommodate 2 – 6 riders in an hour depending on how long you want to ride for. Most companies will also give you better deals to book for more hours, so go with friends and get a cheaper deal.
How do you do it?
The boards used for wakesurfing are like tiny surfboards as standard surfboards are too big and bulky. Boards range from 4ft to 5ft in length and tend to have smaller and limited fins too. Some are surfboard shapes and others are like skimboard styles. There are hybrids which are a combination of the two, and even rounder longer boards intended to have a similar feel to longboard surfboards. Board choice is up to the rider on what style you like.
The ride starts in the water with a rope like a wakeboard and you place your feet on the board with the board just floating on the water’s surface. There are other ways to start like standing and sinking the board and jumping off the back of the boat but these are more advanced and the easiest is as mentioned.
The boat then takes off and pulls the rider up, and after around 20 seconds the wave starts to form as the boat reaches its peak speed.
You can ride with the rope if you want or when you get to know where the “sweet spot” is then you can throw the rope back in the boat and ride without it.
The best boats make a really good clean wake and its best to either go early in the morning when it’s very flat and still or avoid high traffic areas like Marina and Palm where there are big bumps and lots of other boats. Our picks of companies and locations are:
Fahrenheit Beachsports in Jumeirah – we have a really good boat and private bay and are at a licensed venue www.fahrenheitbeachsports.com
Xtreme Wake in Ghantoot – they have good boats and a good location www.xtremewakeuae.com
Eywoa in Abu Dhabi – they have a good boat and great spaces to ride www.eywoa.com/wakesurf-uae
All in all, it’s a very fun sport that is growing in the UAE in popularity and there are some great areas to do it. Get out there and give it a go!
Words + Photos by: Carl de Villiers