Surfing Minnesota Lakes
Last year I discovered a new love during the summer. No, not a man, a new type of board!…shocker. In all honesty, I have ridden this board once, maybe twice each season the two summers prior but it was rare someone had this type of board or a boat (hint hint) that could properly support it. Finally, last season I found a crew in which we all together became a bit obsessed. What is it? It’s a Wakesurf board!
Here in Minnesota we don’t have the large crashing waves the oceans offer. Instead, we must create our own. With the popularity of this sport, multiple boating companies have severely stepped up their game in the last few years to create the best wake for riders to surf. For those whom already have wakeboarding boats and can’t invest in a new one yet, you can rig it with the use of an external ballast, or multiple to create a wake tall enough and long enough for your rider. A great resource about ballast placement can be found on WakeMakers.com: Ballast 101: Basics of Adding a Ballast to Your Boat
The Wakesurf Board
Getting behind the boat with this unique board the first time can be intimidating, especially when you see that it’s fairly short and has no bindings. What the fudge!? Brah, it’s a surfboard of course there are no bindings!
There are three styles of wakesurf boards: surf, hybrid and the skim board. The surf style board is easiest to learn on as they are larger and have three fins so they provide greater stability for beginning riders. Hybrids are generally a stable board as well, they will not be as large as a surf but some styles have interchangeable fins which will determine the stability of a board. This board in my experience has been the most popular and what I myself learned on. This isn’t to say you can’t learn on a skim, but if you have little to no background with board sports I would advise not to so you can have a more relaxing, fun, and most likely longer ride.
Learning To Surf
Once you have found a ride crew and a proper boat to surf behind you can begin your latest adventure!
There are multiple techniques you can use to stand up on a surf. I will be discussing my personal preference, which seems to be a fool proof method so far for those whom I’ve taught and those whom have learned previously but were still struggling. I taught them my method and they were up in no time! Follow these step by step instructions below:
Step 1: Determine Your Stance
Your stance is which foot you will have forward. Left foot forward is referred to as regular stance whereas right foot forward is goofy stance. Generally, if you are right handed your left foot will be forward but this is not always true. You can determine this by doing the “pull test”. Have someone take both your hands in theirs and slowly pull you forward. Whatever foot reflexes out to catch yourself will be the foot you place at the front of the board.
Step 2: Set Up With Your Board
Get into the water and position yourself on the proper side of the boat for your stance. Regular riders should be on the left, goofy riders will ride the right side. Place your feet on top of the board and rope in hand with your toes pointed up to the sky.
The driver will put the boat in gear giving you a tug pull through the water. Use one hand to push the edge of the board closest to you under the water. If successful, you will immediately notice the board feels like it is sticking to your feet. You should be in a squatting position in the water. Return your hand to the handle and yell “Go!”.
NOTE: I usually reach for the board in between my feet and give it a push. This is close to the handle so I can easily grab it once my board has been flipped up. I prefer this method because when people use their heals to push the board underwater they generally end up losing their balance and falling backwards.
Step 3: Stand Up
Stand up like your doing a squat! It is a common misconception you are using your biceps to pull you out. Let the boat do it’s job in pulling you out of the water, you just need to squat up to a standing position. Work those legs and that butt!
Step 4: Get Outside the Wake
Once standing you need to exit the wake as quickly as possible. You will shift your weight slightly to the heels of your feet pointing your board to the edge of the wake. You will find yourself going that direction between that and the pull of the boat so don’t let go!
NOTE: Which side of the wake you are on will be determined by your stance. If you have a regular stance, you will aim to the left side of the boat. If you have a goofy stance, you will cruise on over to the right.
Step 5: Find the Pocket
Now that you are outside of the wake you will “climb” up the rope pulling yourself towards the boat and into the heart of the wave finding the pocket. This pocket is where will feel the wave begin to push your board forward rather than the rope and boat pulling you. This will also be visible to the passengers as you will notice a consistent slack in the rope.
TIP: Your feet may not be in quite the right position. Use your toes by curling them to ever so gently scoot your feet into a comfortable position. Below is a sample of my stance. Please note how far back on the board I am.
Step 6: Let Go
Once you are riding with consistent slack in the rope you are ready to TOSS THE ROPE! This may not happen at all your first few times riding. Don’t get discouraged, once you find that pocket your first time you will know and be able to find it again very quickly.
TIP: If you are uncomfortable or find yourself losing your balance when tossing the rope into the boat you can simply drop it to the side and your awesome crew can pull it in for you! I did this for several months. Now, I am to the level where I surf up to the back of the boat and drop it off then ride back out and surf the sick wake!
Step 7: Enjoy the Ride
Ride that wave and have fun! Once you start getting comfortable you will find yourself trying jumps and spins or fun poses on the board.
Surf’s up and I’m out, good luck!
This post has been re-written since it was first published as I have grown as a writer and blogger. Want to see where I started? Check out my original post here –> How to Stand Up on a Wakesurf Your First Time