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The video below was posted a couple of years ago but it hasn’t received a lot of attention. It should! Back in 2013, Red Bull sponsored a kayak race in the snow in Estonia.
The contestants start at the top of a snow ski run, start simultaneously and race down the course. At the end of the course, the contestants glide across a small pool of water. Well, the successful ones glide, the unsuccessful ones flip over and semi-submerge.
Interestingly, several of the contestants are able to control their kayaks surprisingly well. Since kayaks don’t have edges like skis or snowboards, the contestants (riders? paddlers? skiers?) use their paddles like levers to change direction.
Wakesurfing is becoming a popular watersport activity. Google trends indicates wakeboarding popularity (based on google searches) has dropped by nearly 70% from its July 2006 high. Wakesurfing, on the other hand, has doubled in google searches during that same time frame. was virtually. While wakeboarding still has a greater search volume, boat manufacturers have just recently begun to focus significant efforts toward wakesurfing enthusiasts.
Malibu (including Axis), Mastercraft, Skier’s Choice (Moomba and Supra), Centurion and nearly all other inboard manufacturers have incorporated surf wave making devices into the lineup. And, up until recently, they’ve had a lock on the market.
Since wakesurfing involves riding a small surfboard directly off the stern of the boat, inboard boats seem to be the only practical boat for wakesurfing. Stern drive boats and outboard boats have large outdrives and propellers hanging beyond the transom. This places the wakesurfer at significant risk of serious injury or death if they fall.
Recently, Bryant has attempted to enter the wakesurf market by offering a sport porch on several of their models. The sport porch is an extended swim platform that fully covers the boat’s out-drive. While this helps prevent injury, it also adds significant length to the boat (a possible concern for storage), has an unusual appearance and isn’t a comfortable area for lounging. It’s also an expensive option (a little over $4,000 on the 233X model).
Several sterndrive boat manufacturers including Regal, Cobalt,Four Winns, Monterey and Chaparral have indicated they may begin incorporating Volvo Penta’s new forward facing outdrive (also called a tractor drive) in hopes of capturing some of the wakesurf market. Unfortunately, while they place the propeller in a more protected location, still leave a large, heavy, metal portion of the outdrive aft of the transom. While hitting the outdrive portion is certainly better than hitting the propeller, it’s still going to put a dent in your day – not to mention your forehead.
Bryant may be acknowledging that inboards are inherently better suited for wakesurfing by announcing a new sub-brand of boats called: “Wake Tractor”. While not much has been officially released, scuttlebut has it these will include Crusader engines which have historically been inboards.
If you’re looking to get into wakesurfing or if you’re looking to improve your gear, the next few years may be the perfect time! For serious wakesurfing enthusiasts, check out the latest offerings from Moomba, Supra, Malibu, Nautique, Mastercraft, Centurion, MB Sports and Bryant.
What do you think? Would you surf behind a sterndrive boat?