Special delivery: Sign up for the free Boating email newsletter. Subscribe to Boating magazine for $14 for 1 year and receive 4 bonus digital issues.
Though not difficult to master, the traditional wakesurf start can be awkward. Surfers float in a reclined position before propping their heels atop the board in front. Once the boat accelerates, a slight push on the heels is all that’s required for the board to slap flat against the feet. But stay in this position too long and the board begins to plow, putting tremendous strain on the rider’s arms and shoulders. Eliminate this frustrating portion of the starting process by doing it like the pros and sink that board below the surface.
Sink or Swim
While it may seem counterintuitive, starting by standing atop a submerged board takes much of the strain out of the starting process. Rather than plow, the board mimics an airplane wing. As long as a rider’s toes are slightly higher than their heels, the board will “fly” to the surface with surprisingly little resistance.
The trick, of course, is to first master sinking the board and keeping yourself balanced atop its surface. With the boat’s engine off and the board floating 1 or 2 feet off the swim platform, practice by gently stepping or hopping off the platform onto the board and landing in the surfing position, feet spread more than shoulders’ width apart and centered. Don’t stand tall. Immediately go into a crouched, compact position, almost as if you were seated in a chair, with arms out for additional balance.
As in anything, practice makes perfect. A centered landing is a must. Lean too far forward or back and the board will likely kick out and begin to rise to the surface, dumping you forward or back in the process. But with a centered landing, some subtle shifts in balance and a little finesse, most riders will find they can maintain this crouched position and keep the board underfoot as it sinks slowly below the surface.
Read Next: Wakesurfing a Ski Boat
Gonna Fly Now
With balance dialed in, it’s time to fly. Step onto the board with rope in hand, allow the board to settle, then tilt it ever so slightly so that your toes are higher than your heels. Next, signal the driver to accelerate, and allow the board to begin to angle upward toward the surface. Like a traditional start, allow your knees to come into your chest, your bottom to the board’s trailing edge, and your body to roll slightly forward so your hips come under your shoulders. Don’t lean back. The less you do, the less pressure there is against your body. As the board planes atop the surface, allow it to cut away naturally from the boat in the direction of your forward foot. This will allow you to then stand already outside the wake, ready to surf.