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Wake Surfing vs Regular Surfing

wake surfing vs regular surfing

When comparing wake surfing vs regular surfing there are some important things to remember.

Wake surfing is when when a person uses the wake of a boat to ride a surfboard. Surfing is when a person uses ocean waves to ride a surfboard. While wake surfing and surfing seem very similar they are acutally very different in approach. Here are the similarities and differences between wake surfing vs regular surfing.


wake surfing vs regular surfing

A big difference between wake surfing and regular surfing is the size of board used to learn on. Longboard surfboards are the easiest when learning to surf.

When learning to surf, a big soft surfboard will give you the most stability and make it easier to catch and stand up on waves. Wake surfing however can be learned on a very small surfboard. This is because the rider uses a ski rope to get up on the surfboard. Once up the rider can let go of the rope and surf the wake that the boat creates. As long as the surfer does not fall, they can ride the surfboard for as long as the boat is moving forward. The constant wake that the boat creates mean that riders can use smaller surfboards. Ocean waves however, are very unpredictable and can be fast in some areas and slow down in other. The rider must choose the correct size surfboard to catch and ride the current surf conditions. If the surf is small the rider must use a bigger surfboard.


Wake surfing and ocean surfing are simliar in the stance you take. If you wake surf goofy, most likely you will surf goofy and vice versa. Most snowboarders will also surf the same way they snowboard.

The weight distribution onto your front and back foot are also very similar in wake surfing and surfing. If you put weight on your back foot you will slow down. Do this while looking and turing your shoulders to manuever the board back and forth. Leaning forward on your front foot will allow you to speed up. Lean to much though and you will fall. This is true with both surfing and wake surfing.


wake surfing vs regular surfing

Wake surfers use a rope to get to their feet. Once up, the rider can surf the wake of the boat.

Many wake surfers come to take surf lessons and are surprised by the size of the surfboard their instructor gives to them. “I wake surf back home on a 5ft surfboard, I dont want this big thing”, is a common reply to the longboard style surfboard used by many surf schools. However, one of the biggest differences between surfing and wake surfing is how you catch the wave. In wake surfing the rider gets to their feet by holding onto a ski rope and having a boat pull them up. Once up the rider can let got of the rope and surf the wake of the boat. Surfing requires the rider to use their arms to paddle themselves into the wave. This requires lots of speed and energy when first learning and can easily wear a beginner surfer out quickly. Longboard surfboards paddle faster and are more stable making it easier for beginner surfers to catch waves. Once up, standing on and riding the surfboard are very similar to wake surfing.

wake surfing vs regular surfing

Wake surfing allows surfers to practice surfing maneuver’s even when the ocean is flat.

One of the benefits of wake surfing is that people that do not live near the ocean can still experience the sensation of riding a wave. Another plus to wake surfing vs regular surfing is you don’t need waves to surf. Ocean surfing requires waves to surf and sometimes the ocean is flat. Since the boat produces a consistent and predictable wave that does not end, the rider can surf the wave indefinitely as long as they do not fall. For this reason, wake surfing can be a good way for experience surfers to practice maneuvers over and over again.

We love to hear from our readers. If you have any tips or personal experiences on wake surfing vs regular surfing please feel free to leave you feedback. Mahalo!



1 Response to "Wake Surfing vs Regular Surfing"

  1. Tyler Marshall says:

    Aloha! Great tips here! Plus it’s amazing to see how many surfers like John John Florence are in to wakesurfing too, check it out: http://boardersmag.com/articles/surfers-who-wakesurf

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