Weighting your boat is a whole other beast that could easily have a 30 page manual written about it. On a basic level, just be sure that your wake is even from side to side. You don’t want one side to be clean and the other washed out. If that’s the case, have one of your passengers move to the side that’s washed out until the two sides are even.
Most people think that the bigger the wake, the better rider it’ll make you. While there’s no doubt that good riders will do anything to make their wake as big as possible, for beginners, a big wake can hurt more than it will help. When learning to jump, there are enough things to think about already, but if you’re only focusing on a huge wake and how high it’s going to send you, chances are you’ll screw something up on your approach. I always recommend starting with an empty boat and adding weight only when you’re comfortably and confidently clearing the wake every time.
When deciding how to weight your boat and where to put ballast (be it stock ballast or additional fat sacks), whether for wakeboarding or wakesurfing, I’d recommend starting with an empty boat and a lot of passengers. Start with everyone spread out and evenly distributed throughout the boat, and slowly ask one, then two, then three (and so on) people to shift to another spot in the boat. Have people shift from left to right and front to back until you have a super clean, really big wake on one side for surfing, or a super clean, even, consistent, and large wake for wakeboarding.
Doing this with people is a lot faster than having to fill and drain ballast over and over. Once you have an idea of where your weight is best distributed, remove the people, substitute ballast as best you can, and see where that leaves you. Then, if you want something even bigger, start adding people back in once ballast is filled and repeat the process of moving everyone around.
Just like the topic of speed, weighting a boat is different for every make, model, and year. What works for one boat doesn’t necessarily work as well for others. Some boats need more weight up front than others, and vice versa. For wakeboarding our Tige RZ2 has a bigger, cleaner wake with stock ballast than it does with a ton of extra ballast (one of the reasons I love the boat so much, and it’s a lot less expensive at the gas pump), while other boats need a lot more ballast than comes built into the boat.
There are plenty of other theories out there on the topic of dialing in your boat for wakeboarding or wakesurfing, but in my experience, all of the tips I just mentioned are the best place to start. Just remember that you should always be sure the rider is comfortable and that if something doesn’t seem to be working, it’s OK to play around with your setup a little bit to find something that will. Nothing will freak out a beginner more than towing them at 23 mph when they should be doing 18 mph, but you also don’t want to be the kid I had out for a lesson one time whose mom forced me to tow at 12 mph with huge goggles and a boxing helmet strapped to his head. There’s a line between playing it safe and trying to push yourself, and you’re not going to get better (or have fun) unless you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
For the full blog post on wakeboarding tips, check out the Evo Blog here.