How To Read The Wake When Wakesurfing
It’s funny, you could watch a thousand YouTube videos on wakesurfing tricks, attend seminars and webinars, and earn a PhD – but if you can’t do something as simple as read the wake, then you’ll never even be able to make a turn.
Any seasoned wakesurfer will tell you how important reading the wake is. Not knowing how to read the wake is equivalent to not knowing how to turn your car’s headlights on at night. The road is going to be full of twists and turns, but you won’t be able to anticipate any of them.
Thankfully for you, we’re here to help. When you’re out on one of our boat rentals, you’ll be well-equipped to understand how to read the wake, as well as stand and maintain your balance on the board. But in the meantime, here’s a little guide on reading the wake and why it’s so important for success.
Note The Conditions
First off, before you even put one foot on the board, you need to recognise the water conditions. This means checking the intensity and the direction of the wind, and only getting into the water if you’re comfortable. On Lake Arenal, the water is normally calm and provides perfect conditions for watersports, but this isn’t going to be the same everywhere.
When you’re in the water, it’s important not to rush into things. One of the most common mistakes that beginners make is attempting to ride straight into the wake. But this is a sure-fire way to get a mouthful of lake water! Instead, you should pull yourself up onto the board and then drift out of the wake. Pull yourself firmly with your leading hand, and then make sure your feet are centred and balanced on the board.
When you have certified that your feet are not staggered, it’s time to straighten your back and read the wake again. Keep your eye on how the waves are breaking up behind the boat. On a smooth surface, the foam path will travel back several metres before dispersing, but if the wind is strong and the waves are a little rougher, the foam will break up almost immediately. Keep this in mind as you drift back toward the wake, and remember to keep your body straight, tall, and central on the board.
Pitch Your Board Down
When you’re getting closer to being directly behind the rear of the boat, push some pressure onto the balls of your feet. This will pitch the board ever so slightly up, which will help you cut over the first line of the wave and secure yourself into a central pocket.
After this is done, it’s time to reverse that. Instead of pitching your board up, pitch it down. This will ensure you’re putting pressure on the front foot, rather than the back. If you place your weight on your back foot, the physics of wakesurfing says that the board will go flat, and you will start losing the wave.
Stay In One Spot For a While
Now that you know the rhythm of the wake, you can start anticipating each wave and meet them with a weighted front foot. This will also encourage your hips to do the driving rather than your shoulders – which typically happens when you’re applying pressure to the wrong place and your body tries to compensate.
When you’re in a central pocket, it’s important to stay in one spot. Once again, a mistake that many beginners make is assuming they’re reading the wake correctly and jumping straight into their tricks. But you need to wait until you’re in control, you’re feeling comfortable, and you feel confident to start moving.
Communication is Key
It’s also important to remember the importance of the boat when grasping the wake. Every wakesurfer needs to know how to communicate with hand signals to their spotter, and the spotter can then communicate those signals to the driver. This will give them an indication of when you’re in control, and whether you want them to turn, accelerate, or slow down.
Each time this happens, the wake is going to break up and change slightly, so keep your mind focused and repeat the steps mentioned previously if you want to stay on the board. It might sound like a lot to think about, but once you’re on the water, you'll realise that reading the wake is as much about intuition as it is anything else. You need to feel the energy of the waves beneath your feet and respond to that energy. It’s easy when you’re out there, honest!