Wakesurfing

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In the guess-what-I-did-last-night file, here’s a kicker: I went surfing behind a speedboat. No, this isn’t wakeboarding. Look close. This is surfing. On a wake. There’s no rope connecting the surfer to the boat. The wake mimics the look and feel of an actual ocean wave, except here you can keep going forever. . .

I met up with Todd Zaugg, a former-pro kneeboarder/water skier in Independence, Minn., who’s been bitten lately by the wakesurfing bug. Zaugg’s souped-up motorboat—can you say 435 horses?—pulled me and five other surfers ‘round in circles on a chilly local lake.

To be sure, in this sport you start with a tow rope to get up. But once you’re balanced and in the groove, surfers simply toss the line into a handler at the stern, thus cutting any power connection between themselves and the boat.

(Above: Todd Zaugg is the pro)

Experienced wakesurfers can cut and dip and slice for five minutes at a time or much longer. They can surf way back on the wake—up to 25 feet behind the boat—and then speed right back up toward the rear of the ship, almost nosing the speeding craft.

I was able to get up easily on a 6-foot board. And surfing with rope in hand was no issue. But learning to stick to the wake took some getting used to, and after about five minutes of wobbling I threw the line and rode alone for a whole 10 or 15 seconds before being pulled back to crash into the cold watery depths.

Though I usually don’t write about anything with motors, all in all I’d have to call wakesurfing a highly-recommended outdoors sport. Try it if you can, but be sure to use the proper equipment (i.e., a specialized boat), as wakesurfers ride close to the stern and an entanglement with a spinning prop is a real danger with the wrong type of craft.

(Above: T.C. Worley surfin’ clean)

Zaugg’s boat, a Correct Craft Air Nautique, has a prop that’s far underneath, keeping it clean out of the way. There’s also large water bladders and lead weights in his boat that pitch it at a weird angle through the water to create a large wake-wave.

For a bit more on wakeboarding, try this Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakesurfing

(Above: T.C. Worley eating it)

(Above: Stephen Regenold hangin’ 10)

By
Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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