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Cars / Yachts

What’s The Best Water Depth For Wake Surfing?

Understanding the science behind the wake can help you get bigger, more exhilarating rides.

Dec 15, 2022 | By LUXUO

Wake surfing is an exhilarating sport, combining the excitement of surfing with the speed of a wake boat. But many don’t realise the complexities that go into creating the perfect wake, including the effect depth of the water has on your ride. If the water is too shallow, your wake will generally be smaller, which is why most wake surfing enthusiasts prefer to stay in deeper waters.

Ideally, staying in water over 20 feet deep will provide the best wake surfing experience. While you will almost notice that the more shallow the water, the smaller your wake, it is possible to wake surf in virtually any depth, with some finding success in depths as little as five to seven feet.

While you can wake surf in shallow water, there’s a higher chance that you will be unable to fill your ballast fully due to the propeller laying low in the water. Since it’s so close to the bottom, the chances of your propeller becoming tangled in the vegetation or striking a rock are significantly higher, which can result in damage or costly repairs. Fortunately, for those who enjoy shallow waters or don’t have a deeper option available, choosing wake surf boats with a jet-propellent can help eliminate these issues.

Wake surfing is a fascinating sport with many factors that go into increasing the wake’s size, apart from just the water’s depth. Understanding the science behind the wake can help you get bigger, more exhilarating rides.

Why Does Deeper Water Produce A Larger Wake?

Although it may seem complicated at first, wake size and shape are very simple to understand. When a wake is formed, it creates a symmetrical wave under the water, which is identical to the one above. In shallow water, this under-surface wave is cut off, stopping it from reaching its full size. Since the wave above is directly proportional to the one below, it creates a smaller wake. In other words, the wake above is smaller in shallow waters because the wave below is cut short.

The deeper the water, the more room the entire wake has to form, allowing it to swell to its full potential and giving you a more exciting ride!

Does Speed And Depth Affect Wake Size?

Speed does have a direct effect on wake size, which is why the recommended speed is between 10 and 13 mph. In deeper water, this speed is ideal; however, in shallow water, you will need to go at a slower speed and increase the weight at the rear of the boat to create a large enough wake to ride. The issue that arises with the need to weigh down the back of the boat in shallower water is that it increases the chances of kicking up sand or bottoming out, which could have disastrous effects at even slow speeds.

How Does The Bottom Of The Water Affect The Wake?

You may not realise how significantly the bottom of the water impacts the wake, but it has a direct effect on its shape and size. If the bottom is soft and predominantly weeds and muck, it will cause the wake to have a poor formation and stay smaller. However, a harder surface with compacted sand or rocks will result in a bigger, well-formed wake. The deeper the water, the less consequential the composition of the bottom becomes since the wake has plenty of room to form fully without obstruction.

How Does Water Depth Impact The Hulls Affect On Wake?

Another contributing factor that many people don’t often consider is the hull’s effect on wake. Boats with longer, more slender hulls will create a smaller wake than those with a wider, shorter variety. This difference is due to “displacement theory,” which explains that the more water the boat moves or “displaces,” the larger the wake it will create. When wake surf boats with wider hulls are in deeper water, it creates the ideal scenario for a well-formed, more substantial wake.

Additionally, wake surf boats with a flatter hull, as opposed to ones that are V-shaped, work better in shallow water, creating a small but noticeable improvement in the wake size.

How Does Wake Surfing In Deeper Protect The Environment?

It comes as no surprise that the heavier the rear of the boat, the deeper the propellers go into the water. Combined with the propeller’s downward trajectory for the ultimate wake, and you can quickly see why shallow water is not ideal for this exciting sport. When wake surfing in shallow water, it’s not uncommon to churn up so much sand that the whole area becomes brown and discoloured, which has a harmful effect on the vegetation and wildlife. In high-traffic areas, it’s not uncommon for vegetation to die out completely, creating a watery desert where lush greenery once grew. Staying in deeper water will protect the environment and help reduce vegetation loss while limiting the impact on fish and other animals living in the area. It can also reduce pollution that occurs when impacted trash and materials are dredged up, reintroducing them into the ecosystem.

How Can I Wake Responsibly?

There’s no doubt that wake surfing is one of the world’s greatest sports, but it can negatively impact the environment. Sticking to deeper waters not only creates a larger, more rideable wake but also helps limit waterway damage. Along with choosing deeper water when wake surfing, you should avoid multiple passes in the same location and avoid throwing trash overboard to help keep the water cleaner so you can enjoy wake surfing for years to come. Wake Responsibly is a campaign seeking to educate boaters on the importance of courteous behaviours to help ensure the water is enjoyable and safe for all.

If you’re ready to take your wake surfing to the next level, Supra Boats has the premium, powerful wake surf boats you need to make a splash. With four stunning models to choose from, there’s a boat to satisfy the most dedicated wake surfer. When power and quality matter, Supra Boats delivers. 

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