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Wake-up Call

Wake-up Call

If you have not heard of wakesurfing before, do not worry – neither have I.

It is a bit like wakeboarding in that you start off being pulled behind the boat. The key difference is you drop the rope after a few seconds and start surfing the wave that is created by some impressive new boating technology. Needless to say, when I was invited to try wakesurfing at the recent Noosa Festival of Surfing, I jumped at the chance.

By far, one of the highlights of the Noosa Festival was when world champion skim boarder Austin Keen sprinted down the beach with his board, jumped on it and skimmed across the water to catch the wave of a passing boat’s wake and seamlessly started surfing on it. Talk about an incredible stunt! To avoid embarrassing myself I did not try and copy him, and opted to take a more traditional route to my wakesurfing, letting Chaparral’s new 2017 257 SSX bowrider take me out.

As we powered through the waves north of Noosa Beach, it became easy to appreciate why bowriders are becoming so popular. The 7.8m 257 SSX effortlessly accommodated the seven of us in comfort without feeling crowded. This is not surprising since it is rated to carry 16 people. Whether you are popping open a portion of the windscreen to sit on the bow lounges, or relaxing on the stern seats (which can switch between lounge and sunbed modes at the touch of a button), there is plenty of space to enjoy.

Champion surfer Austin Keen grabbed his board and jumped into the water to show us how wakesurfing is done. Austin and the boat were bobbing up and down in the swell about 100m out from Noosa Beach. As he got his board ready, the guys tossed him a rope and he gave the thumbs up. The boat powered off and Austin skimmed across the wake and began surfing the one-metre wave. He quickly dropped the rope and started pulling off tricks, like the 180s with jaw-dropping style.

Having a boat that can create its own surf waves requires some pretty amazing technology under the surface. I asked Chaparral’s Managing Director Scott O’Hare on how this is achieved.

“Malibu created this Surf Gate system that splits the wake, so that one wake doesn’t cancel out the other. It actually pushes one wake past the other so that it allows the uni-wake to create a wave,” explains Scott. “We loved the Wave Gate technology, so Chaparral decided to partner with Malibu and put our money into designing the hulls and doing the rest of the research to enhance what Malibu had already done. To maximise the wave, we have modified our hull and put Volvo forward-facing drives which are very efficient. It is safer for the surfer with the propellers facing forward than facing back. From a fumes perspective, the exhaust exits 50 feet behind the skier, so you don’t get any in your face.”

Now that I understood the technology and saw Austin carve up the waves, I figured I was ready to give it a crack. After face-planting spectacularly half a dozen times, I was grateful for two things. Firstly, that stacking it when you are wakesurfing does not hurt because your feet are not awkwardly strapped to the board like wakeboarding. Secondly, the Chaparral guys were patient enough to keep backing the boat up so I could give it another go. While I struggled to stay on the board long enough, I still had a lot of fun – considering that I am a complete novice at surfing and wakeboarding! The more experienced surfers I saw having a try were able to get a handle on surfing the boat’s wave very easily.

While I only saw the Surf Gate technology used on the ocean, from what I have seen and heard of its performance on calmer freshwater, it is capable of producing noticeably larger waves that are even easier to surf and pull tricks on. It is definitely a very handy feature of the new Chaparral boats equally suited to both salt and freshwater. Being able to enjoy the cleaner wake in freshwater is great. But considering many of us live right next to saltwater on the Gold Coast, being able to wakesurf out on the ocean or the on the Broadwater means you can get a quick fix without spending an hour getting to the right river or lake. More time on the water and less time driving is always a win in my book.

 

By Narayan Pattison

 

(May-Aug2017)

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