To answer this question we want to categorize the boats into one of the following categories, please select the category that fits your boat to read further:


  • Inboard Boat – These types of boats have the engine completely inside the hull, some popular brands are Nautique, Mastercraft, and Malibu
  • Jet Boat – These boats are jet powered and have no propeller, popular brands here are Yamaha, Scarab, and Sea Doo
  • Inboard/Outboard – These boats have the motor inside and the drive unit behind the boat. Popular brands include Sea Ray, Bayliner, and Chaparral to name a few.
  • Outboard – This type of boat has the motor attached to the back of the boat by a bracket. These are popular in Fish and ski type boats, center console boats, and bay boats.


Inboard Boats: Inboard boats are the ideal boats to wakesurf behind!


You can break inboard boats down two ways, the first being the direct drive traditional waterski boat, these boats have the “dog house” in the center of the boat and may or may not have an open bow. These boats tend to need more ballast than the other types of prop drive boats. The best way to set these boats up is with 800-1200 lbs of ballast towards the back of the boat, check out our bundles designed for direct drive boats here (some surfers have been known to use upwards of 3,000lbs of ballast). Here's a video on how to set those up. 


The second type of inboard boat is the V-Drive, these are the ideal boats for wakesurfing! These boats started their watersports existence in the late 90’s pulling wakeboarders and are now the go to for wakesurfing and family fun due to their ideal interior layouts. V-Drive boats made from the late 90’s to around 2013 were wakeboard boats, they were designed with 500-1000 lbs of ballast and designed to produce good wakeboard waves. To set these boats up best for wakesurfing, we need to take up some of the storage in the rear lockers, ski lockers, and bow with ballast bags. Check out our wakesurf bundles here to get everything you need!  


Jet Boats: 

Jet boats are amazing watersports boats, but they provide a few challenges for wake surfing. The two optional powertrains on these are single and dual jet. Similar to a jet ski, the jets work by pushing the boat up and out of the water. This process counteracts the ballast a bit and the jet spray tends to shoot at the surf wave, which can hinder the development of a great wakesurf wave, there are a few products we have that work and with a few tweaks you can make some improvements to the wave, check out our blog we wrote about this subject here. Different makes and models direct the jets differently the lower in the water they spray the better chance you have at a good surf wave, the more towards the surface the jets spray the less likely you are to get a good wave.


Inboard/Outboard and Outboard Boats:

We do not recommend surfing behind the majority of these boats, the prop is way too close to the surfer and a quick driver or rider change can put the rider in the propeller. The ONLY exception to this is the new Volvo Penta Forward Drive systems that are designed for wakesurfing. If you have a forward drive system, great! These are amazing boats to wakesurf behind and are amazing candidates for the SWELL Wakesurf Creator