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Optimize Your Forward Drive Boat for Wakesurfing

Here are several ways to make boats powered by Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive surf even better.

Updated:

December 8, 2020
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Wakesurfing behind a Regal boat
With this 22-foot Regal LS2 Surf, we achieved great wakesurfing waves with the onboard ballast filled 100 percent, Regal’s surf-system tabs engaged, the drive trimmed up 3 degrees, and the speed between 10.5 and 11 mph. Tom King

Boats powered with Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive are already well-equipped for all your favorite watersports activities—even more so if paired with the Volvo Penta Watersports Control helm screens. With the forward-facing propellers, activities like wakesurfing, wakeboarding, tubing and even just swimming are much safer.

Not to mention, there are performance advantages across the board. That being said, it takes more than just a Forward Drive unit to create a great wakesurfing wake. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you optimize your Forward Drive boat for endless fun on the endless waves.

Ballast

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If your boat is equipped with built-in ballast tanks, the rule of thumb is to fill them all the way up for wakesurfing. Beyond that, -adding more ballast always helps. Consider adding an aftermarket ballast bag to the rear of the boat, or find two smaller bags—one for port and one for starboard. With wakesurfing, the goal is to create a wave with plenty of push to keep riders in the pocket with little to no effort. That means displacing as much water as possible, whether through ballast bags or extra friends on board (or both).

Ballast bags for your boat
Additional ballast will displace more water and help serve up bigger waves. Courtesy Eight 3, Leadwake

If the bigger ballast bags take up too much space for your liking, there are other options. Consider smaller, portable bags like Tidal Wake’s Water Weights. Each bag holds up to 50 pounds of water and is easily tucked away under seats. Or take a look at items from LeadWake. LeadWake bags take up much less space than water, but keep in mind the added weight if you’re towing for a long distance or plan on doing lots of cruising while on the water. Of course, -never exceed your boat’s -capacity rating.

Wakesurf Shaper

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If your boat is not equipped with a wakesurf tab, such as -Malibu’s Surf Gate -pictured on this -Chaparral, adding a wakesurf shaper is a must. There are several brands to choose from, including -Mission, Tidal Wake, Ronix, Roswell and more. All easily attach and detach to the side of the boat you’re not surfing on. By displacing the flow of the water away from the boat’s hull, these shapers help peak up the wakesurf wave on the opposite side. Moving the shaper forward or aft below the waterline will affect the wave, so try a few positions and compare the results.

Wakesurf shapers for the side of your boat
A wakesurf shaper placed on the side of your boat is an easy, hassle-free way to make bigger, cleaner waves. Courtesy Tidal Wake, Mission

Surf Tabs

You can really add to your boat’s wakesurfing prowess by adding aftermarket surf tabs to the transom of boats with Forward Drive. Wake Worx is the most recognized brand, creating systems already offered in boats such as Regal, Monterey, -Bryant and Four Winns, but others are available as well.

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Trim Techniques

Adjusting your drive’s trim can affect your boat’s wakesurf wave. There is no magical position because a wave’s characteristics can vary widely from one boat to another based on running surface, onboard load, water conditions and more. The general rule is to trim up and force the stern of the boat deeper into the water. From there, play with the trim to see what helps give it the most size and push while keeping the wave’s face as clean (no prop wash) as possible.

Surfing Speed

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Generally speaking, optimal wakesurf speeds are somewhere between 10 and 12 mph. Again, this will vary depending on boat model, ballast and water conditions, as well as the rider’s board type and riding preferences. As with trim, you should adjust the speed incrementally until the wave is as big and clean as possible. If you’re too slow, the wave will not have enough push, and you’ll notice lots of prop wash; too fast, and the wave will shrink down.

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