A new sport has become popular in summer lakes in the past five years. Lake Tahoe, the nation’s largest Alpine lake and mega attraction for summer fun in the Sierra Nevada, is the new home of Ssummer wake surfing in the west.

Wake Surfing has recently become an increasingly popular water sport on Lake Tahoe. With its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain scenery, Tahoe provides the perfect backdrop for this thrilling activity. Wake surfers ride the wake of a boat without the aid of a tow rope, using a specially designed board to carve and ride the waves. Tahoe’s smooth waters and warm temperatures make it an ideal destination for Wake Surfing, with enthusiasts flocking to the lake to test their skills and enjoy the excitement of this unique sport. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, wake Surfing on Lake Tahoe is an experience not to be missed.

Living far away from the ocean is no longer a barrier to finding good surf waves. You can create your own with today’s modern boat selection, or just need the right outfit to guide you. Wake Surfing, a relatively new water sport and an offshoot of wakeboarding, is gaining popularity among novices and seasoned water-sport athletes alike.

Wake Surfing involves a surfer trailing behind a motorboat on a short surfboard that’s about five feet (1.5 meters) long and surfing through the boat’s wake without being attached to the boat.

Wake surfing Lake Tahoe
Duane Bratsch TahoeBoatco Enjoying the Waves in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Wake Surfing

On a summer morning in Lake Tahoe, you will find boats all around the lake seeking out their private cove for a day on the lake. That standard lake life is still prevalent in Lake Tahoe, but stay in one place long enough and peer a little further offshore. You are sure to see a Wake surfing boat full of Gung Ho water adventurers go streaming by at 10-15 miles per hour with a surfer close behind in its wake doing spins, jumps and a variety of other Hang 10-type maneuvers generally related to Surfers in the ocean.

Wake Surf Boats

This is not a cheap sport if you are looking for a new exciting hobby. These unique Wake surfing boats are some of the most expensive recreational vehicles on the water. The Low end starts at around $50,000 and goes up from there. So in Lake Tahoe, the easiest way to get started is to look for rental companies that offer Wake Surfing packages for a Half Day or Day on the lake. Local experts at Tahoeboatco.com will even book surfing lessons to go along with boat rentals. Other local rental companies include Tahoe wakebuster.com, Tahoe Bliss Boat Charters, Wake Surf North Tahoe or AWs Incline

Is wake Surfing easier than wakeboarding?

Because of the lack of binding on footboards, the release of rope after starting and the generally lower speed wake surfing make Surfing more enjoyable than wakeboards.

The Physics of Wake Surfing

Wakes from motorboats create waves similar to those found in oceans plied by regular surfers. These waves tend to be on the smaller side; however, a four-foot wave on an otherwise calm lake is more than adequate to sustain a wake surfer for a few minutes ride. And, like ocean waves, there’s a break and a curl, which surfers can ride and use to perform tricks like dips, sharp turns and spins.

Because the boat continually creates waves as it moves, there’s a constant curling effect, which allows some wake surfers to carve through a wake for several minutes. Then, they can perform tricks and alternately move closer to and farther from the boat. The forward inertia created by initially holding onto the towrope helps the surfer stay afloat, along with the constant motion of an ever-churning wake and the water’s strong surface tension. Add to this the buoyancy effect of the surfboard: The board is less dense than the water, and it distributes the surfer’s weight widely, allowing him or her to skim along the water’s surface.

The surfer is on one side of the wake, surfing on it, cutting against it and slashing with the board to surf up onto the curl, allowing him or her to perform 360-degree spins and other stunts. If a surfer is to the right of the wake (in relation to someone looking at the wake from the rear of the boat), he or she is riding on the regular foot side, with the left foot forward. The other side is typically for goofy-foot riders, those who ride with the right foot forward.

No-Wake Zone

An important Lake Tahoe boating rule is the no-wake zone. This zone extends six hundred feet out from shore around the entire lake. The posted speed limit in the no-wake zone is 5 MPH. This zone is enforced by patrol boats at all times.

Prepared for Freezing Temperatures of Lake Tahoe

It is also worth noting that because Wake surfing is done in deeper water, surfers are exposed to some of the coolest lake surface temperatures in the lake. So be prepared with the proper gear and safety equipment is essential to a safe and thrilling summer adventure in Lake Tahoe.

So how about you? Are you ready to hang-10 and create your own wakes in Lake Tahoe? 



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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