Motorboat for creating waves

1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 3 days ago #38589 by tova
Often during the summer period, there are a lot of days with no wind where I live.
On those days I would like to have a small motorboat that can deliver good enough waves so I can hang after the boat easy. When I tried hanging after motorboats on Surfski events the boats where often too weak and did not create good enough waves.

What is the smallest boat you would recommend for this?

Any help is much appreciated.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #38591 by robin.mousley
This is Quite a tricky question to answer... 

The heavier the boat the better, but you should be able to ride even quite small wakes.  (After all, it's possible even to slipstream other surfskis!)

The easiest boat by far for wake-riding that I've ever come across is a big tourist catamaran here in Cape Town! 

Doesn't answer you question though - sorry! 

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: tova

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 3 days ago #38593 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Motorboat for creating waves
As rob says you can draft almost any boat. But how big does it have to be to be useful or fun...? if you have a cooperative lead boat - that is, a boat that is producing its ideal surfing wave, you can get away with a pretty small boat.

There were many small aluminum fishing boats on a reservoir I used to live nearby. They were only 16-20 feet long and quite light, but when they were just below plane, ~8-9mph, if they sped up slowly enough for me to stay on their first wave, I could surf them at 8-9mph with only moderate effort.

Any sort of speed boat will also work, although I find ski boats produce a wave that is hard to ride. I think this is because they sit low relative to their length, so they produce waves that are both short and steep. Steep is good, but short is too short in my experience.

Now my favorite boats to draft are the sailboats I can find. Since they have a Displacement hull they produce an ideal wave to surf. I often surf them in the ocean during their races, using them to pull me up wind, then using them to speed-boost me so I can catch short runs of groundswell on the downwind.

The key, more than the exact type of boat, is having a pilot that knows how to drive for you. They need to speed up slowly enough that you can stay on the first wave. If you lose the first wave, your paddling effort goes up a lot. Same for 3rd or 4th wave. On first wave you can not paddle or only hit a few strokes occasionally to adjust wave position. 2nd wave you're paddling almost constantly, 3rd wave your struggling to keep up, 4th wave you've lost the ride.

It also helps if your chosen boat planes out at ~12-15mph. That way, the stern will be fully buried pre-planing (with the bow high in the air) at about 8-12mph which is ideal surfing speed. Really, p[laning speed and waterline length are the characteristics to look at if you're buying a boat specifically for surfing. Draft also helps, but IMO is probably secondary to LWL and planing speed.

For reference, on wealthy lake with lots of big boats, the very first time I paddled a ski was with fellow surfskiier Zach Handler. We started following a 50' big cabin cruiser out of the marina and they took an interest in our funny long boat. We told them we were trying to draft them and they (awesomely) asked how fast we wanted to go. We said 'until we stop pointing up'. They took off slowly and we maintained first wave, surfed them at 12-13mph all they way out to the island a couple miles away. I was immediately hooked. 

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas, tova

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 3 days ago #38595 by Epicpaddler
Excellent question.

Since we don't have many downwind days where I paddle, if I want to surf I have to ride boat wakes. Many times the powerboats are going full throttle which makes for challenging waves to catch and surf. When they slow down to the 6mph no wake zones I can hop on their wake and surf nicely. I hopped on a sailboat motoring out into a 10-15 mph breeze yesterday and he pulled me along nicely (until i got hit by a tone of powerboat waves from both sides- then I got dumped while the skipper of the sailboat was videotaping me). 
The following user(s) said Thank You: tova

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 3 days ago #38596 by waverider
I think you need a heavy boat so it doesnt get up on the plane too early, so having weight (safely) in a smallish boat might help improve its wake ability.  Wake board riders choose boats especially designed for creating wakes.

Boats such as coast guard, water police, and pilot boats often chuck up sizeable wakes at low speeds. As mentioned also sail boats as they dont get up on the plane due to their keel weighing them down

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 2 days ago #38607 by zachhandler
I have spent a significant portion of my surfski career surfing motor boat waves. There is a lake near me that is congested with fancy motorboats in the summer and I go there with the express purpose of surfing boat wakes. Holiday weekends are the best. Most days people start filming me with their cell phones and every now and then people toss me cans of beer. 

There are better and worse boats to surf. Old wooden motorboats with square sterns and vertical transoms (Chris-Craft is a good example in the US) are the best. There are old fiberglass boats that have that same shape and are great to ride. More modern hulls are more fuel efficient and generate smaller wakes. Wake boats are not as good as you would think, but sometimes the pilots are happy to give a surfski a ride as they understand the thrill that we are after. Regarding size a 15 foot boat can leave an ok wake if it is loaded full of people but generally 20 ft and up are the ones that create massive wakes. As MCImes said, the best waves are created at speeds just below where the motorboat starts to plane, I would say 8-11 mph with 10 being perfect. 12 mph is a very hard wave to stay on. 

If there are lots of boats cruising where you paddle then you might not need to have your own motorboat. Just ride random boats. There are 2 ways to catch wakes, one is to start behind the boat when it is slow, and paddle behind it as it builds speed. When I want to do that I hang out at narrow channel where all the boat traffic has to slow to 5mph to get through. If the people in the boat show interest in you then can chat them up and they might be happy to to drive the exact speed you want. it gives then something to look at for 10 minutes while they drink beer. 

The other way to catch a boat wake is with a high speed assault. Find a boat going about the right speed and distance from you that looks like it has a good wake. You will learn to recognize what is good and what isn't. You then need to put yourself on a collision course with the motorboat. You are on a collision course if the angle between you and the motorboat is not changing. for example, if 12:00 is straight ahead imagine the motorboat is ahead and to the right at 2:00. If as you paddle towards the boat it remains at 2:00 then you will collide with it. You can adjust speed and direction to maintain collision course. Then it gets a bit psychological. If the boat thinks they will hit you, they will veer away and you will not catch it. So you have to look innocent and harmless. What I do is set myself on a collision course with a spot just behind the motorboat. I paddle at an easy pace, maybe 6 mph. I have relaxed body language. The motorboat sees that I am no threat. Then as I am getting closer to the boat, at some point I accelerate to maybe 8.5 mph and simultaneously change my coarse to be on a collision course with the middle of the boat. The motorboat is caught off guard as they had no idea a kayak could move that fast. Usually I do this late enough that the motorboat cannot react by changing course. Be careful not to aim too far forward; if you do so the boat will get spooked and turn away. Finally I sprint violently and pierce over the foaming boat wake just behind the motor. A quick turn is required as I cross the wake. The goal is to be on first wave. The subsequent waves are smaller and much harder to ride. 

The best boats to ride are often wealthy retired guys. Those guys are entertained by the spectacle, and secure in their place in life so they do not feel their manliness is under attack . Younger guys, say 45 and under, often feel threatened by the presence of an athletic guy riding their wash. This is especially true if they have women on board. If I sense that the pilot of the boat does not want me there I abort the mission immediately. Not worth antagonizing anybody and not worth getting surfskis kicked off the lake. Sometimes I can see by the body language 100 yards away that they guys does not want me on his wake and will just accelerate and turn away if I get close. 

There are risks to this game. I have never had a problem or even a close call, but I paddle with eyes on the back of my head and wear high visibility clothing and pfd.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas, tova

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 2 days ago #38610 by Impala
Replied by Impala on topic Motorboat for creating waves
"There are risks to this game. I have never had a problem or even a close call, but I paddle with eyes on the back of my head and wear high visibility clothing and pfd."

Living by river far from the sea, if I want to ride a wave, I have to catch freight barge wakes. The waves these barges produce usually are not big, at least not since designs became more efficient and speeds dropped to save fuel (apparently). Waves definitely have become smaller during the last two decades. So finding an infrequent barge making a decent wave is not easy from the outset. 

First I try to skim the bow waves, but as these usually move in a relatively steep angle to the direction of the barge, they are often hard to hold on. Another problem is that skippers lose sight of you once you ride their sidewaves too closely, start panicking and rat you to the river police. Two years I was stopped by the water cops, and they ordered me to stop riding barge wakes beside or close to the stern of the ship -  which practically is prohibiting riding wakes at all, as stern wakes further aft are rarely powerful enough to keep you on without racing your brains out. So finding a wealthy, relaxed pensioner on big funboat to give me a ride is something that indeed crossed my mind. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 1 day ago #38611 by robin.mousley

Two years I was stopped by the water cops, and they ordered me to stop riding barge wakes beside or close to the stern of the ship

An advantage of living in a third world country is that we get to do these kinds of things pretty much without hindrance.  We have no limits on how far offshore we can go, what kind of weather we can go out in - or what wakes we can ride. 

(Of course that means that as a community we have to try to self-police and stop our buddies from doing things that are truly silly.  But we really appreciate the freedoms that we do have.)

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 1 day ago - 1 week 1 day ago #38612 by zachhandler
I once approached a large barge (several barges being pushed by a tug actually) to ride wake. I was completely under control and a very safe distance away. But the captain of the tug did not know that, and he did not have full visibility of me at all times. He was absolutely livid. He came out on the deck of the tug and yelled at me in a booming voice until he was out of earshot. His tirade was full of expletives and raw deep felt passion, and I’ll never forget it.

The basic deal is that barge captains are like railroad engineers. They are driving this monstrous thing that does not turn or stop quickly. Every now and then they run over and kill people through absolutely no fault of their own; often the victim was suicidal. But despite their lack of fault, the pilot suffers the psychological consequence of PTSD for the rest of their life. It is a wound to their soul that often cannot be healed. That is not something I would wish on anyone. So I have become much more sensitive to the perspective of these barge captains. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 week 1 hour ago #38623 by Impala
Replied by Impala on topic Motorboat for creating waves
Zach, I fully understand that barge captains become nervous when they lose sight of you. But as these vessels nowadays can travel on autopilot mode for quite some time, there is no reason for them not to get out the bridge and look out for you. Your captain did that, and I'd rather endure his yelling than getting reported to state authorities without knowing by whom and why. 

Still, we barge surfers have to behave in a way that does not threaten the barge! I think my occasional mistake was to travel too closely right beside the stern of vessels, where the wave is more pronounced. I thought the distance safe enough,  but did not consider that the barge, if it turns, has to do that by swaying the stern - and I would get swiftly swept over in an instant. Or the captain runs the risk of beaching his vessel in a river bend. Therefore I would recommend to stay behind barges in a spot where you can be seen - that was my takeaway from that incident. As long as I do that, I catch fewer waves, but can stay in business. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

5 days 10 hours ago #38633 by zachhandler
I am jealous Impala. I wish I lived in a place with barge traffic! Or regular downwind opportunities for that matter…

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

Aided remount? (10 Posts)

1 day 13 hours ago
rhainan's Avatar

Epic Pro Grip (2 Posts)

1 day 23 hours ago
Protected by R Antispam