By Jake Thomas
Wake surfing is still relatively young in the water sports world and towboat manufacturers are all developing their own proprietary technology for shaping a wake for wake surfing. They all use ballast to create the size of the wake then make use of trim tabs or other specialized hydraulic plates to help shape of the wake.
A great deal of research and development has gone into all of these systems. Many even have the ability to instantly transition the wake from one side to the other, allowing surfers to switch waves while riding with the press of a button. These new wake surf systems really do an amazing job creating the perfect wave; however, most cannot be retrofitted onto older towboats.
I’m always on the prowl for the latest and greatest toys for wake surfing. Until now, the only way to create a wake surfing wake with older towboats was to simply add ballast weight to the boat then shift this weight around until you found the hull’s sweet spot. This does do the trick, but because the hulls on older boats were not specifically designed for surfing, the wake can sometimes get too frothy and too difficult to ride.
This past season I stumbled upon a very cool device from Ronix called the Eight.3 Wakesurf Shaper. It is an absolute game changer for wake surfing with older towboats.
At first glance, it looks like nothing more than a big triangular wedge you might find underneath the wheel of a trailer to stop it from rolling away, but this wedge actually attaches to the side of a boat, at the transom, and pushes the hull in such a way that it drastically changes the shape of the wake. It does essentially the same thing as the latest wake shaping technology from the big towboat manufacturers only in a much more simplified way.
Now I know what you’re thinking, mounting this wedge to the side of the boat must be a pain and cause permanent damage with potentially negative effects on resale. Well this is not the case. The Eight.3 Wakesurf Shaper attaches to the side of the hull with Velcro. Yes, Velcro. Because the wedge forces water away from the hull, the water pushes the wedge onto the Velcro, constantly securing it to the boat.
The adhesive backing that bonds the Velcro to the hull simply stops the wedge from shearing off. When you install Velcro to both sides of the hull, you can simply stop the boat and move the wedge from one side to the other to accommodate left and right foot forward riders. When the Wakesurf Shaper is fixed to the left side of the boat, the right wake is augmented and vise versa. When you’re finished for the day, or using your boat for other sports, simply remove the Wakesurf Shaper and store it away.
Since the side of each boat’s hull is different, the Wakesurf Shaper kit comes with shims to allow the installer to get the wedge sitting flush on the Velcro strips for a perfect fit. If you are planning to sell your boat, but want to keep your Wakesurf Shaper, simply remove the Velcro from the hull and it’s good to go.
In my opinion, the Eight.3 Wakesurf Shaper is a must have for anybody using an older towboat for surfing as it truly is the shape of things to come.
This article is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Boats&Places.