When it comes to the wake control systems, each company has its own wrinkle.
• Malibu/Axis Malibu’s Integrated Surf Platform starts with side gates vertically mounted to the stern. They are hydraulically driven and divert water to shape the wake. If the driver engages the Surf Gate on the port side, it affects the opposite side of the boat.
For example, when we were out on Bob Baiguy’s Axis T22, he was surfing and tapped his head to let the driver know he wanted to switch sides. A flip of a toggle at the helm engaged the appropriate gate, and the wake shape switched.
At the helm, the driver of a Malibu or Axis controls the Surf Gate, the Wedge and the amount of ballast. Presets for different riders can be used. For its Command Center, Malibu works with Medallion Instruments. On upper-end Malibu models, drivers have an aft-facing camera that helps them keep an eye on the surfer without having to look up at a windshield-mounted mirror. The driver also can adjust the height of the bucket seat with the push of a button.
Malibu is one of a few companies that offers Surf Band, a remote control worn on the surfer’s wrist that controls the wake and boat speed, as well as the stereo volume.
• MasterCraft On MasterCraft boats, there’s only one person in control of the functions: the driver. MasterCraft’s Gen 2 Surf System uses ballast, tabs designed exclusively for its boats by Lenco Marine and software from Murphy Enovations to set the wake size and shape with the push of a button. On the X-Star, there’s a new addition to the ballast system: a horseshoe-shaped reservoir called the Switchback ballast tank. It fills to about 75 percent, and when devices are deployed to make the boat heel slightly, the water naturally shifts to the side needed to make the adjustment.
The driver has four choices on the MasterCraft touch screen: Surf Right, Surf Left, and Mellow or Steep for wake height. The XT and X series boats have two helm configurations — one with a smaller screen with embedded profiles plus analog gauges, and a more upscale dual-screen setup. The XT series is designed to surf, board and ski. The X series is surf-centric, while the NXT is more entry level.
“You still need to keep the base of general recreation in mind,” Povlin says. “That’s why we call them surf-centric, not surf-specific.”
MasterCraft says its three-rudder steering system, Dockstar, makes it easier to back a boat to the dock. In addition to the rudder abaft the propeller, two more rudders are forward of the prop.
• Correct Craft (Nautique, Centurion, Ski Supreme) For its Nautique wakesurfing models, Correct Craft employs ballast and wave-shaping devices in the Nautique Surf System. The driver can switch the wake from one side of the boat to the other without shifting weight, and the system can shape the wave. NSS consists of port and starboard WavePlate interceptors that redirect water from the hull surface, and a control system integrated into the LINC Panoray 12.4-inch touch screen. The Nautique Configurable Running Surface consists of transom-mounted hardware and a control system integrated with the touch screen.
NSS utilizes six set points for the WavePlate and Nautique Configurable Running Surface. This provides 36 combinations per wave side that will fine-tune wave height, shape and length.
As NSS has evolved, Correct Craft has redesigned its hulls to better integrate the technology. For example, the wake and surf hulls are engineered to generate less lift. Some of these elements include a kinked keel with a sharp bow entry that transitions to a flatter aft section, and variable planing surfaces that have different bottom shapes in sections of the boat to create wakes and aid in planing.
“Our customers should be able to hop in the driver’s seat, choose an activity and rider preferences, and go,” says Shawn Perry, content strategist for Nautique. Frequent adjustments such as speed control and ballast configuration have quick menus and icons on the LINC Panoray screen. The Helm Command rotary dial is placed where the driver’s throttle arm rests and provides control of the touch screen.
When a Nautique model is equipped with optional Surf Select, the rider has a key fob to switch sides on the wave. There’s also a smartwatch app that lets the rider change NCRS and NSS settings, and set speed and stereo volume.
• Skier’s Choice (Supra and Moomba) Supra and Moomba boats use the AutoWake system. “It’s the only system on the market that can react to the boat’s current state and the only system that can predict where the boat’s future state will be in relation to the dynamic pitch and roll of the boat,” says April Fields, marketing manager for Skier’s Choice.
If a passenger gets up and moves in the boat, Fields says, AutoWake compensates for the change in the location of the ballast. The system includes a display that shows the driver and rider up-to-the-minute ballast levels and how they can be adjusted for better surfing. “If your ideal wake is made of an amplitude of 100 percent and it is only showing 70 percent, you know you will need more people or more ballast to reach your ideal amount of displacement,” Fields says. “Amplitude Display is something unique to the AutoWake system.”
At the helm, Supra uses a Vision Touch Dash to provide information about on-board functions on a single screen. Owners can also opt for conventional analog gauges. The Supra Swell system is designed to provide tall waves with long pockets and push on both sides. The driver can adjust the AutoWake settings and shift between rider profiles to adjust the wake’s size and shape.
• Tige Boats Tige is a veteran towboat manufacturer and was one of the first to utilize a trim-tab-like device to shape the water abaft the boat. The TAPS 3 system uses three tabs plus ballast to create wakes. Retract the tabs, and the boats make wakes suitable for slalom skiing.
• Bryant Boats All Bryant Boats with the surf designation are equipped with Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive, designed for surfing. Bryant builds ballast into its hulls with a subfloor system and uses WakeWorks tabs to tailor the wake for riders. When surfing, the 17-inch tabs extend deeper into the water than when they’re used conventionally to balance a boat or compensate for loads.
• Chaparral Boats On its Surf models, Chaparral also uses the Forward Drive and licenses Malibu’s transom-mounted Surf Gate for wake shaping.
• Cobalt Boats Cobalt uses Forward Drive, and the company’s TruWave surf system uses built-in ballast tanks and Surf Tabs designed specifically for surfing. If the boat accelerates to faster than 14 mph, the tabs automatically retract. The system is built into Cobalt’s Glass Dash, which includes a Garmin chart plotter. Cobalt boats also have speed control. Regal uses a system similar to Cobalt’s.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue.