Wakeboarding for Beginners

Ballast Positioning

Brad Dwyer
An article by Brad Dwyer
Published: February 14, 2007

Don't get me wrong, size matters (wake size you sicko!). But if you don't place your ballast correctly, you will end up with an uneven, foamy, shallowly-sloping wake. A misshappen wake will have serious consequences in the amount of pop you get.

So what can you do? Well, there are definitely some basics that are going to be beneficial for all boat makes and models (which is what we will focus on here). But mostly, you'll need to experiment to see what works best with your specific hull and boat layout. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Don't be afraid to mix it up every once in a while and try something new.

The first key to a good wake is balancing the weight on the port and starboard side. If there is too much weight on one side of the boat, one side of the wake will lose its edge and start to curl over. This is not good. Something to consider here is people. Consider their relative weights and jumble them around as needed. Remember to include yourself in the calculations.

It can also be useful to have a small weight that you can move left or right to make small tweaks. Fly High's Pro X Series Fat Brick is made for this. A bag of lead or shot also works quite well.

The second axis you need to think about is how to spread your weight from front to back (or fore and aft, bow to stern). The front to back distribution of weight effects the shape. More weight in the front makes your wake more "rampy" and abrupt, more in the back makes it "mellow" and smooth.

The more rampy your wake is, the more vertical pop it is going to give you. The more mellow it is, the more it will send you horizontally out into the flats. It's a trade-off of height to distance.

Most wakeboard boats come with a standard ballast configuration of two integrated ballast bags in the back and one larger bag in the middle in the ski locker.

This is an alright configuration to start with, but as you progress you will want to customize it. Putting more weight in the front will give you a cirsper, more rampy wake. More weight in the back will increase the overall size of the wake but without weight in the front to even it out it will not give you the defined shape you want.

In my Mastercraft X2, I added a Fly High Pro-X Series Integrated Bow Sac that tucks nicely under the bow seats. It transformed my good wake into a great one. Before that, we were using passengers as front ballast. That worked pretty well too. And the major advantage to that bag is that it doesn't take up any of my seating.

The thing you need to be careful about with weight in the bow is dipping it under. You need to be much more careful when you're just idling. It will take some practice, but one trick I've learned is to "power" over large waves. Just give it a little gas so that you lift your bow up and it doesn't get caught between the crests of the waves. Even then, you probably won't have a 100% success rate, so tell anyone sitting in the front to make sure they put their cell phones, cameras, etc in the glove box where they'll be safe from water damage.

If you do take on some water over the front, it shouldn't be too big of a deal (so long as you're not overloaded!). Just make sure you switch your bilge pump on if you don't have an automatic one.

But you'll have to experiment with what works best for you. Everyone I know runs a different setup. It all comes down to what works with your particular boat.

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