Mar 07

Wakesurf boat wake length

We’ve received a few responses from folks off line not quite following our effective pocket length conversation, so we thought we’d spend a few moments talking about it.

First off, ocean waves break and the pocket follows that breaking wave, but the length of the wave itself is fixed. It’s determined by all manner of things like ocean bottom in that location, the shore, etc. Lets say that as you look out at the wave you can see it’s 1,000 feet long from end to end. It will never grow from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet in length, at least not on that day or that set. It breaks and closes out.

Boat wakes don’t do that. If you had a 4 mile space in front of you on the lake and didn’t fall, that would be the length of your “wave”. If you consider turning and heading back acceptable, make it 8 miles. 🙂 Anyway, you get the idea, we are moving over ground and so is the boat usually at some set speed, like 11 mph. Even if you just stand there, you’re covering ground at 11mph. As you lean forward or pump, your speed increases above that of the boat wake and you catch up to the boat. You’re traveling forward on that “wave” or in the pocket. But technically, if you could do all of your tricks in one spot, your effective wave length is that 4 miles. Also, the pocket itself is closing out. It never really ends, but it’s sort of moving forward at 11 mph also.  If you aren’t moving forward at 11 mph, you fade out the back.

Here is a fun depection of the concept.

pocket length

As you move forward, so does your wave, forever.  Well at least within a relative range.  You have to factor in gas and shoreline, but it’s a variable length constrained by external factors.

Now for some pictures! Here is a picture of James Walker on his Flyboy and you can see the path that his board took as he drove forward. He was able to catch up with the boat and then basically over take it, so he had to turn down the wake and into the flats.

New Camera Wakesurfing 232

Here is James highest speed obtained and recorded during the speed tests. You can see he and his Flyboy are capable of developing almost twice the speed of the boat and the result is that he had to slide down into the flats. James and his Flyboy on the Supreme V226 wake are capable of developing a speed over land of 21.08 mph!


Being able to generate speed faster than the wakesurf boat is certainly fun, but guess what? We run out of wake! So are you saying, what a minute! Yesterday you tried to convince me that your pocket length was 80 feet long! It still is, but the faster your board goes in relation to the boat speed the shorter the effective length is.

What we are talking about is the speed differential.

While speed is really fun, most of our wakesurf boats really can’t develop a solid surf wake beyond about 12 mph. We aren’t talking about the occassional boat that does 15, the vast majority of boats surf around the 11 mph range. Is a wakesurf board capable of 30 mph useful? Not in and of itself, because we just don’t have the elapsed time to make that useful. What is useful would be the ability to accelerate to that speed instantly.

Right? You’re about to get sucked into the curl, what do you need? Obviously to get out of there, so we need a board that can generate speed quickly, that can instantly develop enough speed to overcome the speed differential and go forward.

But that acceleration doesn’t really need to be up to 30 mph, it just needs to be at slightly above the speed of the boat.

Let’s take an example. When you are fading back and losing the wake, you’re still moving forward. Even when you are turned backwards, your butt towards the wakesurf boat, you’re momentum and speed is still going forward. BUT what happens is that your speed forward drops to below the speed of the wake. So lets use that 11 mph boat speed, when you are only going 10 mph forward, you are effectively going out the back.

What do you need to keep from going out the back? If you are traveling at 10 and the boat is at 11, probably just a shade over 11, and then you’ll catch back up. BUT here is the catch, you need it to be NOW and in whatever wake condition is available. If you can instantly change your forward speed from 10 to 11, you are now traveling with the wake and are no longer fading backwards.

So what’s really important, at least in terms of surface recovery? INSTANT acceleration.  The ability of your board to change from 10 mph to 11 mph with you on it, instantly.

We’ll talk more about that wakesurf research in the future, but we wanted to leave you with that nugget to ponder.

Thanks so much for following along, we appreciate it!

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