Once you get the bite of riding waves, you will likely start to wonder about all the different things you can ride your bodyboard on.
Of course, there are ocean waves, wave pools, and rivers, but is it possible to wake surf behind a boat with a bodyboard?
Just as it’s possible to surf on a surfboard behind a boat, so can you use a bodyboard when wake surfing.
As long as the boat that is towing you has enough power and creates big enough wakes, there is no reason why you can’t bodyboard behind a boat. However, this will be slightly more tricky than wake surfing.
Can You Bodyboard Behind a Boat?
When you understand the physics of riding a wave, being pulled behind a boat makes much more sense.
Ocean waves are often thought to be moving forward and thus pushing you along as you ride them, but the truth is slightly different.
Instead of traveling towards the shore, waves only move in an up and down motion. This means that you are not being pushed forward by a wave, but instead, you are riding down the wave face, similar to how you would ride a snowboard down a slope.
Taking this concept and moving it to a wake surf board, you can see that the wakes are nothing but slopes (waves).
The difficulty comes in here, not because a bodyboard won’t work behind a boat, but because the waves are usually too small for you to maintain momentum once you let go of the tow rope.
Is It Difficult to Use Bodyboard Behind a Boat?
Although this is not always the case, as some wake surf boats can create more than adequate waves, you will need to make sure that you remain perfectly in your line.
Because bodyboards are smaller than surfboards and we tend to ride them in a prone position, there is a lot more friction between us and the water, as well as reduced buoyancy.
This means that unless you nail your line and stay tight on the wake’s shoulder, once you let go of the tow rope, you will quickly slip off the wake.
In the video above, the bodyboarder struggles to stay on the wake, not only because of the line he is choosing to ride, but because the wakes are not sufficient for wake surfing.
Although these waves work while being towed, they aren’t big enough to wake surf and are therefore much too small to bodyboard on.
The shape, steepness, and size of the wake make a huge difference when bodyboarding behind a boat.
This can be seen in the video below, where a wake surfing boat is used instead of a regular motor boat.
Take note of how clean and steep the wave is. Now, look at how the tow rope goes slack as the rider sticks himself in the wake’s shoulder.
Although the bodyboarder does a much better job at staying on the wake, he has the advantage of both a larger board as well as cleaner waves.
What Is the Best Bodyboard to Use for Wake Surfing?
If you are wanting to bodyboard behind a boat, you should look at using a larger bodyboard, but not one so large that it’s difficult to control.
Although you will be able to be pulled behind a boat on a small board much easier than you will ride the same size board in the ocean (thanks to the momentum created from the boat), the larger your board, the easier it will be, and the better you will plane.
By using a larger than normal bodyboard, you will be able to keep your body further out of the water and therefore reduce drag.
The best waves for bodyboarding are large, steep, and powerful, and as wake surf boats don’t create the same situation, we need to adjust what we ride on.
That being said, if you choose a bodyboard that is too large for you, then you won’t be able to turn it in the water and will therefore not be able to stick yourself in the wake’s shoulder.
Is a Bodyboard Designed for This Activity?
Bodyboards are not made for being pulled behind a boat and don’t work as well as other tow boat sports.
The reason for this is that bodyboards are too small, and a large part of our body is left in the water.
This is similar to how you would start when kneeboarding.
Bodyboards work best on large steep waves where there is enough power to counteract the added resistance that our bodies make in the water.
That being said, bodyboards are made to plane across the surface of the water, and they do this perfectly when being towed behind a boat, they simply won’t work as well as they do when you ride larger ocean waves.
Is Wake Surfing With Bodyboard Safe?
Wakesurfing with a bodyboard is as safe as most water sports that include being towed behind a boat.
That being said, using a bodyboard behind a boat could be considered safer than wake surfing for two main reasons:
1. Bodyboards Are Soft
Wakeboards, surfboards, skis, and wake surfboards are all made from hard materials such as fiberglass and resin.
This makes them strong and smooth, which creates a perfect water-planing device, but it also makes them incredibly hard when we make impactful contact with them.
Because bodyboards are softer, they pose less of a threat to us when we hit our head as we bounce off choppy water or from hurting other body parts when we wipe out.
2. You Don’t Need to Stand
As bodyboarding is done in the prone position, unless you are trying to drop knee (DK), you have a much shorter distance to cover before hitting the water or your board.
With less fall distance comes less pain on impact. Although this is only a small height difference, when you are traveling at 30 mph, these few feet make the world of difference.
What Do I Need to Bodyboard Behind a Boat?
To go bodyboarding behind a boat, you will need much the same equipment that you need when bodyboarding in the ocean, with a few minor changes.
You will need:
- A motor boat with sufficient power
- A tow rope
- A large bodyboard
- Life Jacket
- Wetsuit/ Rash Guard
If you already have a wake surfing boat, you don’t need much more to bodyboard behind it, although there are some things you are better off without.
There is no need to use fins when bodyboarding behind a boat as you do not need to paddle.
Yes, the fins will make getting back to your board or the boat easier, but they will slow you down too much while riding the wake.
Just as using snorkeling fins is not ideal when bodyboarding in the ocean, neither is using bodyboarding fins while towing behind a boat.
Another piece of bodyboarding equipment that you should avoid using when being towed behind a boat is a leash.
Although a leash will prevent the board from floating too far away from you, it is dangerous as there is a chance that it will get caught in the tow rope.
If this happens and you fall from your board, you will continue to be dragged by the boat under the water, which could be life-threatening.
You can tow yourself behind a boat on just about anything, providing it is buoyant enough, and the boat has enough power.
That being said, some floatation devices perform better behind boats than others.
There is no reason why you can’t bodyboard behind a boat. As long as you have all the equipment you need and a knack for adventure, there are hours of fun waiting for you.