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Our library of free diagrams, guides and how-tos includes all of the information you need to get the best wake out of your boat.
Experience the difference a WakeMAKERS.com custom ballast bag can make. Each one of these custom ballast bags were crafted to our customer's specific measurements and finished to our precise standards. Optimize the space without the waste. Not only do you choose the size, shape, and capacity of your custom sac but you also get to choose choices how many ports are installed, and where they are located. That makes integrating your custom wakeboard ballast bag into any system easy and pain free.
We wanted to develop the definitive guide to adding ballast to your boat to build a better wake. Whether you're interested in wakeboarding, wakesurfing or both, the information included here will give you all of the knowledge you need to have the best experience possible behind your boat.
In order to get a better wake from your boat, regardless of what type of boat you have, you need to add additional weight. Extra weight results in a bigger wake and can also be used sculpt the shape of the wake.
At WakeMAKERS, we think about wake quality as a function of two characteristics:
- Size: The physical size of the wake; bigger means more energy, which is good for both wakeboarding and wakesurfing.
- Shape: The shape of the wake is just as important as the size, and requires attention in order to maintain the correct shape while increasing the size.
Wake Size + Wake Shape = Wake Quality
Adding additional weight to your boat, whether it’s in the form of ballast, people or even gas in the fuel tank makes the boat sit lower in the water. A lower ride height means the hull is displacing more water, which will result in a larger wake as the boat drives though the water.
Your requirements for wake size will depend on a host of factors, such as:
- Desired wake size: Just how big do you want the wake to be?
- Space requirements: How much room are you willing to give up in the boat for ballast?
- Comfort level: How much ballast are you willing to run in the boat?
- Activity: Are you primarily wakeboarding, surfing or both wakesurfing and wakeboarding?
For example, if you need to have a certain amount of interior storage space available that will limit the total amount of additional ballast you can place in your boat.
The bigger wake you want, the more hull displacement, and therefore additional ballast you need. Anywhere you place additional weight in the boat will increase the displacement of the hull. That means for wake size the location of the ballast is completely trivial, put the weight anywhere in the boat you want.
The second equally important, and often ignored, component of wake quality is the shape of the wake. Whereas ballast location in the boat plays no role in determining the size of the wake, wake shape is completely dependent upon where the weight is placed.
In general, here is an outline of how weight placement will impact wake shape:
- Wakeboarding: Weight in the rear of the boat will result in a wake that is more vertical, with a shorter and steeper face. Too much weight in the rear can cause the wake to “roll” or “crumble” over on itself.Conversely, moving the distribution of weight more towards the bow of the boat will make a more mellow wake, with a longer transition from the trough at the bottom to the peak at the top.
Unless you are currently not happy with the wake shape (too steep or too rampy) stick to a 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution for any additional ballast you add. You may have heard of the “60/40” rule or other recommendations for adding additional weight, but as generalizations they are wrong. In most cases we do not want to change the shape of the wake; correct shape is one of the reasons we spend more money on watersports tow boats, we just want to make the wake bigger. That means evenly weighting the entire hull of the boat, which means the wetted surface of the boat will be the same, it will just displace more water.
There are other advantages to an evenly weighted boat, like being easier to drive, maintaining efficiency of the drive train by reducing prop shaft angle for better acceleration and fuel economy, etc.
If you want a steeper wake with a more abrupt pop, move the bias of weight towards the rear of the boat more. On the other hand, if you want to tame some of the steepness that is inherent with your boat’s wake, or if you’re having trouble with the wake crumbling, shift weight forward in the boat.
- Wakesurfing: Adding weight in the rear of the boat for wakesurfing results in a tall wake that has a lot of energy, but doesn’t extend very far back behind the boat. You MUST start with weight in the rear of the boat to have a wake with enough “push” or energy to be able to support a rider with the rope.Additional weight in the front of the boat will lead to a wake that extends further back behind the boat, but will also remove some of the height or energy from the wake. The goal is to have the longest wake possible, while still maintaining enough weight to “push” a rider without the rope.
Almost universally adding weight to a boat for wakesurfing will be done in the following manner. Start with weight in the rear corner of the boat on the side you will be surfing on, and move forward in the boat from there. The bias of weight to the surf side (port side of the boat for regular riders, starboard side of the boat for goofy riders) is required to make a “clean” surf wake on just one side of the boat. Starting in the rear will provide enough “push” to support a rider without the rope, which is the whole goal. From there, put as much weight in the front of the boat, still on the surf side, as you can without removing too much push.
The heavier the rider or the smaller the board, the more rear weight you’ll need. Lighter riders, or riding a very fast surfboard will allow you to run more weight in the front of the boat for a longer wake.
How-To: Fill and Drain Additional Ballast in Your Boat
Now that we know why and where to add ballast, the next step is to figure out how to actually fill and drain that additional weight. There are many reasons, such as rider skill level, activity, efficiency, why you’ll want to be able to add or remove ballast from the boat quickly and easily. Ultimately the best method of getting weight into and out of the boat will depend in your specific needs. At WakeMAKERS we classify three different methods for filling and draining weight:
Portable Pump Factory Integration Complete Ballast System The go to solution for filling and draining wakeboard ballast, a portable pump offers great speed for not much money, but requires more work to use. Exclusive to WakeMAKERS, this option allows you to control additional ballast capacity using the same system that came built into your boat. Great value, and very convenient, this is a great option for fully automated ballast without spending a lot. The Porsche of the ballast industry, this option gives you the most speed, convenience, performance and flexibility, but does not come cheap, and requires installation. Pros: Highest speed, Inexpensive, Zero installation, Works with any boat Pros: Extremely convenient, Moderate speed, Inexpensive, Easy installation, Completely automated Pros: Extremely convenient, High speed, Works with any boat, Completely automated Cons: Manual Process (boat must be stopped for filling and draining) Cons: Slower, Requires factory system Cons: More expensive, Medium Installation Shop for Bag/Pump Combos» Shop for Factory Integrations» Shop for Complete Systems»
Again, which option makes the most sense will depend on your specific needs as far as speed, convenience and price are concerned. You can always start out using a portable pump, and then move to a fully integrated solution in the future.
WakeMAKERS is excited to introduce Eight.3, a new wakeboard ballast bag and pump brand brought to us by the great people at Square One Distribution (Ronix/Radar). Whether you're a wakesurfer or wakeboarder, Eight.3 has the speed you need to spend more time behind the boat and less time filling up your ballast bags.
The Eight.3 3700GPH submersible pump fills and drains 3 times faster than the other leading ballast pumps on the market. It's little brother the 3000GPH submersible pump is no slouch either. With a bag fill rate of 417 pounds per minute, your boat will be weighted perfectly in a matter of minutes.
Both of the Eight.3 Submersible Pumps are designed to work with the 400, 800, and 1100lb. Telescope CTN Bags. The unique telescoping dry chamber gives you enough space to quickly and easily drop the Eight.3 Sub. Pump into the bag for lightening fast drain times. You can forget about dealing with air locking or re-priming and the unique trapezoidal shape helps reduce bag roll and keep your sacs right where you want them to be.
- 4 Ports ( 1 high velocity port) (1 fill/vent port) (2 drain ports)
- Available in Grey/Scuderia or Black/Juice
- Fits in Most V-Drive Lockers
- 1" Diameter Threaded Fill/Drain Ports
- Laser Cut 26 Gauge Heavy Duty PVC Materials
- High Strength Welded Seams
Eight.3 Ballast Pump 3000GPH $149.99
The Eight.3 Sub. Pump delivers a bag fill rate of 417 pounds per minute for fast filling and draining of the Eight.3 Telescoping Ballast Bags. This system easily plugs into your cigarette lighter with its 12ft. power cord. 10 feet of 1-1/2" heavy duty hose gives you plenty of length to drop the pump over the side of your boat.
- Anti-Airlock Protection
- Heavy Duty Waterproof Construction
- Won't Burn Out When It Runs Dry
- Stainless Steel Shafts
- Rust & Corrosion Protection
Eight.3 Ballast Pump 3700GPH $159.99
With an incredible fill rate of 514 pounds per minute, the 3700GPH Submersible Pump will save you a ton of time. The fastest and most powerful pump on the market is finally on our shelves and ready to ship!
- Anti-Airlock Protection
- Heavy Duty Waterproof Construction
- Won't Burn Out When It Runs Dry
- Stainless Steel Shafts
- Rust & Corrosion Protection
- 3x Faster Than Any Competitors Pump
Skeptical about the Eight.3 Bags and Pumps? Watch this video showcasing the Eight.3 Telescope CTN 400 vs. Fly High 400 with Tsunami Pump.
2002 MasterCraft X30 Ballast Upgrade For Wakesurfing
We have had a lot of fun behind the early model MasterCraft X30 wakeboard boats. Since 2002 was the first year that MasterCraft added Jabsco Ballast pumps, it is important that you confirm that the system does not have the older aerator pumps. We have run into a fair amount of early model 2002's with the older system which we do have a solution for as well.
If your boat has the Jabsco ballast pump system you will want to remove the above the floor hard tanks in the rear compartments. Replace them with either the 750 lb. Fly High Fat Sacs or the 1100 lb. Fly High Jumbo Surf sacs. If you opt for the larger bags you will not get close to that capacity. You should be able to optimize the space with the Fat Sacs just like in the picture above. We have a ballast upgrade kit specifically for the 2002 MasterCraft boats that comes with all hoses and fittings needed to make the switch. The process will only take you about 15 minutes. http://www.wakemakers.com/mastercraft-tankbuster-ballst-system-upgrade.html
If you upgrade the rear lockers you will want to get some more weight up front as well to counter balance the load. We suggest adding the Fly High Integrated bow sac under the front seats. We can tie it into your factory KGB center ballast system. That should give you a realistic 400 to 450 lbs. up there. http://www.wakemakers.com/mastercraft-piggyback-bow-ballast-system.html
Let me explain what is going to happen when you make these simple changes. For one your wake will be bigger because you are displacing the hull deeper in the water. That is good but isn't everything. We want to build a great shape as well. When surfing you will fill the surf side and also add weight to the bow. This will give you a great wave with a ton of length. If you want the wave to be taller let a little water out of the bow. Your speed will probably go up to between 11 and 11.5 depending on how full the boat is. When wakeboarding you will want to fill the bow and KGB to 100%. The rear port bag should be filled to between 50% and 75% full and the starboard rear bag should be at around 50% capacity. This will give you a great distribution of weight and should create a very equal clean wake at between 65 and 75 feet back depending on how fast the rider likes to go.
This gallery includes all of the individual ballast system diagrams that we've ever generated in one convenient location. This is by no means a complete compilation of every possible layout, but it does cover most of the basics, and with a little creativity you should be able to tweak one of the below layouts to meet your needs. As always, if you have specific questions, feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help you out.
You can find all of the components listed in these diagrams in our Wakeboard Ballast Parts category.
Basic Aerator Pump System
Aerator Pump System Shared Drain / Vent Thru-Hull Using Vented Loop Anti Siphon Valve On Fill Line (Below Waterline Ballast Bag)
Aerator Pump System Shared Drain / Vent Thru-Hull Using Check Valve On Fill Line (Above Waterline Ballast Bag)
Dual Aerator Pump System Single Intake
Basic Johnson Impeller Pump System
Jabsco Impeller Pump System (Drains above the water line)
Jabsco Impeller Pump System With Shared Vent/Drain Port (Drains above the water line)
2008 Malibu VLX Super Piggy Back With Auxiliary Drain Pump on the Fly High Enzo Sac (Shares Factory Vent/Drain Ports)
Johnson Ultra Ballast Impeller Pump System (Drains above the water line)
Often customers ask us how they can add a reversible pump to the existing factory MUX switch in a 2007 or newer Malibu boat. Although we strongly suggest adding any additional ballast pumps to a dedicated 3 way ballast rocker switch it is possible to use what is already on the dash.
The system configuration is possible when a pair of relays are wired to take the brunt of the load. This isolates the factory digital MUX switch and minimizes the chance of the load heavy reversible ballast pumps interfering with the factory electronics. Each relay will distribute power to the pump opposite of one another to reverse the polarity in order to run both forward and in reverse.
You will need to two Waterproof SPDT 30A Relays as well as both 16ga and 12ga. The thicker wiring will be suitable for powering the relays and the smaller stuff will activate the relay at the MUX switch. For safety we use a 20 to 30 amp fuse on the positive lead from the battery.
Weighting a V-Drive Boat For Wakesurfing
We answer a lot of questions pertaining to the subject of "how to weight a v-drive boat for wakesurfing". Instead of diving into the details about filling and draining I am going to keep this simple. The end goal is to surf without the rope. This can be accomplished with a minimal wakesurf ballast bag upgrade. By adding more weight beyond the factory ballast system the surf wake will be bigger faster and the push will be stronger. Friends don't let friends surf two inches from the swim platform.
Step 1 (Good): The first step to weighting any inboard boat for wakesurfing is to load down the rear corner on the surf side. Displacement of the stern deeper in the water will direct the flow of water while also promoting list or leaning. The result is a ridable wave with a cleaner face. Just this step will allow most riders to surf without holding onto the rope with the appropriate wakesurf board. Larger riders may need to jump to Step 2 in order to maintain the speed needed to throw the rope in the boat.
Step 2 (Better): Our preferred next upgrade is to add some weight forward in the boat toward the bow. We want to displace more of the boat's hull deeper in the water. This will decrease the height of the wave but in turn will create a longer more ridable area further behind the swim deck. This upgrade is a balancing act so use the bow weight sparingly. Too much and the wave will flatten out leaving you with no speed. Not enough bow weight and you will be surfing with the nose of your board over the swim deck.
Step 3 (Best): To maintain the height of the wave while increasing the push or ridable portion of the wave, begin to add more weight to the mid ship on the surf side. If you want the ballast hidden toss a ballast bag under the seats but if you don't have a lot of passengers throw a bag right on top. The amount of weight should be around 3/4" of the total weight in the rear compartment. The name of the game is weight distribution. It should taper from the heaviest bag in the rear corner to the lightest bag in the bow.
Testing: When discovering what works best in your boat remember that people count too. If you want to experiment without having to spend the money upfront, invite your largest friends out for a day on the boat. Never ask how much they weigh as they might not be your ballast buddies after you surf. Guestimate how much weight is placed in these three key areas and then replicate that based on storage dimensions and the appropriate sac sizes.
Have more questions about adding ballast to your wakeboard boat?
2013 MasterCraft X-10 WakeSurf Ballast UpgradeMasterCraft's Josh Palma, does a phenomenal job explaining how to weight the new 2013 MC X-10 for both wakesurfing and wakeboarding. Obtaining the perfect wake for your riding style is our goal at Wakemakers. The new X10 is available from the factory with both a plug n play ballast upgrade and surf tabs to get the best wake possible. Just remember you still need to buy your bags from WakeMakers as they do not come with the boat. [button url=http://www.wakemakers.com/mastercraft]Shop Mastercraft Wakesurf Ballast Upgrades»[/button]
Malibu Wakesetter Ballast: A Malibu Launch System History
Malibu has a reputation throughout the industry for crafting high quality, high performing boats with industry leading innovations. They offer as much value as they do fun. In the late 90's Malibu engineers developed the Wedge which was a simple foil on the transom of the boat that when engaged would create down force in the stern for a rampy wake with more pop. To even further the sport of wakeboarding Malibu created the most comprehensive ballast system in the industry with the MLS or Malibu Launch System that has become a staple of the Wakesetter Series boats.
Malibu MLS Ballast 2001-2004
Starting in 2001, Malibu boats could be optioned from the factory with 900 lbs. of ballast. The three tank system consists of a 500 lb. center ski locker sac and two above the floor 200lb. hard tanks in the rear compartments. Malibu's first ballast system used Rule Aerator pumps to fill and drain each tank independently. Each tank has three connections consisting of a fill on top, a vent on top and a drain on the bottom all plumbed with 3/4" black ballast hose. The drain pump was connected directly to the back end of the hard tank to ensure the system stayed primed.
In 2004, the Malibu Wakesetter VLX and Wakesetter LSV models both had the option of a 350lb. bow tank to increase the total factory ballast to 1250 lbs. The increased ballast capacity when coupled with the popular Wedge displaced more of the hull creating a massive wake. In turn the Wakesetter series become a favorite among professional wakeboarders. Malibu also changed pump suppliers and started using the Shurflo Piranha 800 GPH Aerator Ballast Pump because of it's high quality construction and low profile design.
Our recommended upgrade for both wakesurfing and wakeboarding would be to remove the rear hard tanks and replace them with a Straight Line Sumo 750's or Fly High Fat Sac 750's. We cannot PiggyBack this system because the hard tanks are above the floor and a piggy back requires gravity to drain the water from the bag back down into the hard tank. Using the WakeMakers Malibu Tank Buster Kit, all of the plumbing will be reconfigured to fill and drain the sacs from the helm just like the factory setup. Adding a 3/4" check valve to the fill line is not necessary but might alleviate the system from passive filling when the boat is stationary. If the boat was not equipped with the factory bow hard tank, the Fly High Integrated Bow Sac fits well under the front seats up front for a custom yet hidden solution. The integration of this bow sac will require the installation of a Complete Ballast System.
Malibu MLS Ballast 2005 - 2011
For 2005, the Wakesetter VLX was constructed on top of the V25 Wake hull delivering better wake size and performance. Malibu also refined the ballast system starting with relocating the rear ballast tanks under the floor creating massive amounts storage. This was also the first year that an in-dash Ballast Monitoring System was available to view real time ballast tank levels. Because the rear tanks were under the water line Malibu had to add Vented Loop Anti-Siphon Valves to the fill lines to prevented passive filling. The horse shoe shaped valves are located on the bulk head in front of the motor on either side and there is also a single valve for the center ballast tank located on the wall in the observers compartment. Malibu continued to use this MLS configuration through 2011.
For owners looking to get the best possible wakesurf or wakeboard wake, additional ballast is still necessary. Our exclusive factory integration upgrade, Malibu PiggyBack Kit, option makes it possible to develop the best wakesurf wave or wakeboard wake while still controlling everything with the factory controls on the dash.
With the introduction of the MXZ in 2012, Malibu upgraded the ballast system and re-branded it the Hi Flo. All lines were increased from the 3/4" to a larger 1-1/8" and the pump capacity was increased by using the Shurflo Piranha 1100 GPH Aerator Ballast Pumps. This small change produced amazing results in decreasing both fill and drain times.
Using the 2012 - 2013 Malibu PiggyBack Kit on this system works great as the larger openings in the factory hard tanks allow for increased flow when gravity allows the water to drain from the soft sac back into the hard tank before it is discharged by the factory pump. Please note that early production 2012 Wakesetter boats do still have the 3/4" plumbing.
In 2013, Malibu Wakesetters have the option of a PnP (Plug and Play) ballast system installed at the factory. This system uses the existing ballast pumps to fill and drain auxiliary ballast bags in the rear compartments. Malibu did make some changes to the ballast tanks by adding two new ports on the top which allows the ballast bag to drain more efficiently but the new system is still not perfect.
The most significant innovation from Malibu to date has to be the Surf Gate system. By using vertically mounted plates on either side of the hull, their engineers have figured out how to divert the water on the opposite side of the wake in order to produce a clean long surf wave. The best part of the system is in the ability to change the clean side of the wave from port to starboard and starboard to port in a matter of seconds from the dash.
Shop for Custom Malibu Ballast Bags and Fat Sacs»
The first step in adding weight to your Malibu Wakesetter is selecting the perfect ballast bag, and we have the most options available.
Shop for the Malibu Surf Ballast Upgrade Kit»
Our Malibu Wakesetter Ballast Upgrades provide you with everything needed to easily integrate fat sacs into the MLS ballast tanks.
Take the worry out of drilling a hole in the bottom of your boat when you watch our "How To Install a Thru-Hull Fitting" video. We outline the entire process from determining the best location to actually drilling through the fiberglass. You will quickly understand just how easy it can be. Don't hire a marine tech at $100.00 an hour when you can complete this project in your own garage.