Create the Perfect Wave, Everytime.
Not satisfied with your current wakesurf wave? Spending way too much time at the start of each session trying to get the wave right? Tired of messing with ballast weights and locations trying to get the wave “just right” only to have that same strategy fail horribly the next time out? Or maybe your wave is good, but you need it to be even better as your surfers level up and want to try new tricks? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to consider buying a wakesurf shaper.
You’ve got the best boards, the gnarliest crew, and the sendiest attitude, all you’re missing is a kickass wave! In this article, I’ll walk through how a wakesurf shaper could be just what you need to get you there.
What is a Wakesurf Shaper?
A wakesurf shaper – also known as a “wakesurf wedge” – is a removable device that you add to the side of your wakesurf boat to improve the quality of your wave. The wakesurf shaper creates the optimal conditions so that you can create the best possible wave behind your boat. Obviously every boat is different, and each boat’s specific design dictates the quality, size, and shape of the wave that it makes. However, the function of the wakesurf shaper is to give your boat the optimal conditions to create its best wave.
Have an older wakesurf boat that you’d love to upgrade but the budget isn’t there? A wakesurf shaper could be just what you need to get that top-of-the-line wakesurf boat wave, while spending a very small fraction of the price of a new boat. When used properly, wakesurf wedges help to create a longer, cleaner, more powerful wave. They can even create a wave without ballasts – although ballasts definitely make it bigger and better.
How do Wakesurf Shapers work?
Magic! Well, not quite. To understand how wakesurf shapers work we need to first understand the flow of water coming off the back of the boat.
While the boat drives, there are two streams that come off the back of the boat, one on either side. These streams are relatively smooth (aka laminar) on their own. However, without a wake shaper, the two streams coming off the back of the boat collide together to create undesirable turbulence. You know the white wash you see off the back of the boat? That’s turbulence showing its true colors. And in wakesurfing – as with most things – turbulence is not our friend.
When you add a wakesurf wedge to one side of the boat, this disrupts the laminar flow and makes it much more turbulent, but also much weaker. The wakesurf shaper effectively eliminates the power of the flow on that side of the boat. As a result, there is no collision of two streams behind the boat. In turn, the stream coming off the surf side wave cleans itself up. As pressurized water comes out, uninterrupted, from under the bottom of the hull it results in a smoother, longer, and more powerful wave.
The Benefits of Using a Wakesurf Wedge
A quick search for a wakesurf wedge and you’ll learn that these devices cost a few hundred dollars. While that may seem like a lot for a piece of plastic with some suction cups on it, consider that there are many benefits that will save you time, effort, and frustration. Plus, if you look at it as a way to upgrade your old wakesurf boat instead of buying a new one, it could be saving you big money. Here are the key benefits of using a wakesurf shaper:
- Spend less time messing around with the boat. And spend more time actually surfing! We’ve all been there. Messing around with ballast weights and positions, orchestrating our kids and parents into different positions around the boat, all in an attempt to improve the wave, but to no avail. “But it doesn’t make sense…This setup worked great yesterday! Here Tommy, let’s see if you holding these towels helps fix the wave.” With a wake shaper, after the first time out you’ll have locked in your ballast parameters for getting the optimal wave, everytime.
- Easily swap between goofy and regular surfers. If you hang with a mix of goofy and regular surfers, switching the boat to accommodate everyone’s dexterousness can be a buzzkill. With a wakesurf shaper, easily unsuction the device from one side of the device and pop it onto the other side. Goofy surfer wants to go next? Put it on the port side. Oh wait now he doesn’t want to go and it’s time for a Regular surfer to go? No problem, pop it back over to the starboard side in seconds. No need to change over ballast tanks or transfer fat sacks. Easy peasy.
- Get a better wave on a consistent basis. It sucks when the wave is no good. Nobody wants to surf first because they know their turn will be used to try and get the wave right. The wave is choppy or weak or short and isn’t very fun to surf. Surfers keep losing the wave, causing you to have to constantly turn around and pick them up. With a wake shaper, give your boat the best chance at producing it’s best possible wave. Your surfers will thank you!
- No need to list/lean the boat. In an attempt to improve the wave, drivers will often lean the boat heavily to one side by loading up all the ballast tanks on one side. This puts axial torque on the boat and the boat propeller, which can lead to issues over time.
What is the best Wakesurf Shaper for my boat?
There are several great wakesurf shapers on the market that would help your boat create a great wave on a consistent basis. However, the most crucial thing to check before buying is that the wedge you are looking at is compatible with the hull of your boat. You see, the attachment point of each wedge – which is most often suction cups – requires a particular surface area. If the hull of your boat doesn’t have a correspondingly sized flat surface in the mounting location, well then that shaper is not going to be any good to you.
In my opinion, the best wakesurf shaper on the market is the 2020 Mission Delta 2.0. It is the one that has produced amazing results for us and the one that we currently use on our 2004 Malibu Wakesetter. It’s been a game-changer!
Once you’ve found your match, your work is not quite done. You still need to determine the new optimal parameters for your boat before you can experience eternal wave making bliss.
Getting the best out of your Wake Shaper
As mentioned in the first section, the shape and size of the wave will be determined by three parameters: hull design, ballast amount and distribution, and boat speed. The wakesurf shaper’s role is to allow your boat to create the best possible wave, given these characteristics.
While there isn’t anything you can do about the hull design of your boat, you can use the first couple of surfs with your wakesurf wedge to experiment with different ballast distributions and boat speeds. Once you nail these down, write them down and stick to them. While there may be some adjustments required from time to time, these are a great starting point for every surf session.
Here are some tips for getting started with your wakesurf shaper:
- Read the guidelines on cruising speed and ballast weight for your specific wedge. They will typically give you a starting point for each parameter, and how to adjust.
- Weight the boat evenly to begin with. You may have to adjust to roughly 60-40 weight distribution to the side of the surfer, but you shouldn’t have to go beyond that. You’ll probably find that, on the whole, you don’t need anywhere near as much ballast weight as you used to need without the wedge.
- Understand that you need a certain level of depth in the water for the wakesurf shaper to work properly, and that the depth that you are at can greatly influence the wave if you are in shallow waters (less than 25 feet deep).
- If you experiment with different setups and still think that your wave could be better, I’d recommend talking to the company representatives. They are extremely knowledgeable about what works for their product and they probably have specific recommendations for your particular boat model. They know best.
Overall, getting a wakesurf wedge has been a game-changer for us. We’re consistently surfing a better wave, spending less time with ballast distribution witchcraft and instead spending that time shralping the gnar. If you’re looking to level up your wakesurfing experience with a better wave and more efficient sessions, I’d highly recommend exploring a wakesurf wedge as an option.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about anything I talked about above, or wakesurfing in general. Also, would love to hear how the wedge works out for you!
Looking to level up your wakesurf board game as well? Check out our guide to the best wakesurf boards. We’ve found some screaming deals on some gnarly boards.