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No one has more experience weighting boats than we do, so we’ve come up with the following guides to make the process as simple as possible for our customers. Of course if you have any questions we’d love to talk to you, so either email us at sales@wakemakers.com or give us a call at (888) 338-6085.

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Step 1: Where to add ballast for the perfect wake read now »
Step 2: How to easily add ballast to your boat read now »

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Where To Add Ballast To Your Boat

By far the most common question we're asked is something along the lines of "how much weight do I need?". Ultimately that question will depend on what your expectations are as far as the size and quality of the wake is concerned. For most people though, that question is most easily answered based on how much weight they can easily put in the boat.

Size AND Shape Are Important

Anytime we add weight to the boat, whether it's in the form of people, gas, ice chests, water ballast, or anything else, that will increase the displacement of the hull (make the boat sit lower in the water), which will in turn make the wake larger. The increase in wake size is proportional to how much weight is added to the boat, so for a bigger wake, you need to add more ballast. What's equally important though is the shape of the wake, and that is determined by where in the boat the weight is placed.

Whether you're trying to get a better wake for wakeboarding or wakesurfing these same principles apply, so read on below for specific recommendations on getting the best wake out of your boat.

For wakeboarding we're trying to achieve a wake that is clean, big, and well shaped with a nicely defined lip. In addition to even weight distribution from side-to-side, it's also important to equally distribute the weight from front-to-rear in order to ensure the wake is shaped correctly. Too much weight in the rear half of the boat will result in a wake that is very steep, with an abrupt transition from trough to peak. Conversely, too much weight in the front half of the boat will result in a very mellow wake that sends a rider out instead of up. The goal is to achieve a balance between the two extremes that results in a wake that is perfectly shape with a smooth transition and just the right amount of pop at the top.

Where to place ballast for the best wakeboard wake

Direct Drive Boats

Start with a pair of ballast bags, filling one on each side of the engine compartment. That will result in even weight distribution from side-to-side as well as from front-to-back, so you'll get a bigger wake without changing the shape adversely.

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Direct Drive 800 Ballast Package
Direct Drive 1,500 Ballast Package

V-Drive Boats

The most common configuration is a three bag system with a bag in each rear locker next to the engine compartment, and a third forward bag in the center ski locker. This will maintain the important weight distribution discussed above, and allows the ballast to be completely hidden, which is ideal for most boat owners. For even more wake it add a fourth bag located in the bow of the boat. That will allow for the use of larger rear bags, while still maintaining a close to 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution for the best wake shape.

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V-Drive 1,400 Ballast Package
V-Drive 2,700 Ballast Package

Inboard/Outboard Boats

Stern drive boats require additional weight in the front half of the boat, so start with a single bag in the forward ski locker.

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Fly High Center Locker Sac

For wakesurfing we're trying to achieve a wake that is clean and well defined on just one side of the boat. In addition to that, the wake must have enough energy to "push" a full size adult rider without the use of a rope. We accomplish that goal by placing a large amount of weight in the rear corner of the boat on the side you're surfing. We call this the foundation of our wakesurf ballast setup because it provides the height and power for the wave to be easily surfable. Regardless of the make and model of boat, we recommend targeting between 700 and 1,000 pounds of weight for this location as a starting point.

When weighting a boat for wakesurfing we do not want to weight the front and rear of the boat evenly (like we do with wakeboarding as explained above). The bias of weight will always be towards the rear of the boat, and always on the side of the boat you will be surfing on. Adding more weight further forward in the boat can be beneficial after you've established the foundation of weight in the rear of the boat. Additional forward weight will make the wake longer, extending the area that is surfable further behind the boat. That will make the wake more forgiving, so you don't have to work as hard to stay in the sweet spot.

Now that you've read about where to put weight in your boat for the best wakeboarding and wakesurfing wake, now it's time to find out how to actually fill and drain that weight. Click here to read our next article, How to add easily add ballast to your boat.

How To Add Ballast To Your Boat

Now that you know how much ballast you need, and where in the boat to place it for the best possible wake, the last thing to decide is how to fill and drain that additional weight. Regardless of the year, make and model of boat, you basically have three options for managing additional ballast:
  1. Using a portable pump: $ This option is the easiest, cheapest and most flexible way to fill and ballast in your boat. Portable pumps are powered from the cigarette lighter/12v accessory port found on most boats, and move water very quickly, allowing you to fill or drain most standard size ballast bags in around five minutes.
    Shop for portable wakeboard ballast pumps »
  2. Integrating with the factory ballast system: $$ If your boat came with an automatic ballast system built into it there's a good chance we have a factory upgrade system available. Our exclusive factory ballast upgrade solutions are designed to increase the capacity of the ballast system in your boat for wakeboarding or wakesurfing, without changing how the system actually functions.
    Shop for factory wakeboard ballast upgrades »
  3. Add an automated ballast system: $$$ If your boat doesn't have an existing ballast system, or if minimizing fill and drain times is important, installing a new dedicated automated ballast system is the way to go. We offer turn-key packages that include everything you need, and also offer free consultation services to help you develop a custom solution for your specific situation.
    Shop for automated ballast system kits »
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