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Good vs. bad wave


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It seems like its a daily topic (across multiple media platforms).  "How di I get the best wave?"  "I have XYZ boat, what's the best surf setting?"  "How should i set up my boat to get the perfect wave?"

My question is.....what is the "BEST" wave?  How do you know if you have a good wave, or a bad wave, or just a mediocre wave?  What metrics are used to judge the quality of a wave?  I understand what each boat will be set up different.  Obviously, a T22 wave will never be as good as an M240 wave.  But, each boat has the potential to create its own "best" wave.  At what point do you know you have accomplished that?

I understand the major difference between running no ballast and running full ballast.  But at what point does the "best" wave become phycological?  I compare it to modifying cars (e.g. the "butt dyno" tells me my car is faster because i spend $800 on an intake....but really only picked up 8hp).  How do you really KNOW that the small tweaks are actually making a difference vs. just being in your head?

Have any of y'all ever gotten together and had a "tuning" day?  Maybe a seasoned member that knows the difference between an ok wave and a great wave could "boat hop" and help other owners understand and dial their boats in?  With only 3 seasons under my belt, I don't pretend to know that i have the best wave my boat will make.  I would love (and pay) for someone smarter than me to validate that I have or help tune in the optimal setup on my boat.

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I don’t think you would ever get a consensus on “if you set up your boat this way, it will have the best wave!” There are too many variables to account for, even on the same boat on the same day of use. People off and on, fuel usage, less cooler ballast… Especially true for me boating on a river in current and depth that can change hourly. You also have to deal with personality variable. “This wave is meh, compared to our first run this morning”. Truth is nothing changed except she got tired. We are getting newer friends with wake boats, with a number being Malibus 2013-2018. My advice to them is always the same. Tell them “my base” line numbers, full MLS, 570 pnp [email protected] 75%, speed at 11.2mph with an 850 in the bow. My wife’s preference is a very lippy wave so 4 on the wedge. Then tell them to start with that and play with the numbers until you find your baseline. I am running a 16” prop on my M5 now, so it isn’t even going to be close as far as rpm’s go on a similar boat.

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there is probably some psychological/placebo effect (i paid-for/added that lead bag so wave must have gotten 'better')...but its also probably overshadowed by skill, board, weather, crew, etc.  I understand the goal though; as a boat-owner/operator, when do i stop tweaking because i've gotten 'as good as it gets' and further effort falls into juice-not-worth-the-squeeze. 

I don't have enough friends with wakeboats to have a 'tuning day' -- best i've done is gone out alone (so no one can whine while i toy with settings) to see how each factor changes wave and how sensitive the changes are...but even then i'm going off visual cues only and there are only so many knobs.  Given that i settled in a place very similar to others on TMC for my boat, i call that "my best setup" - maybe i've left 10% of goodness on the table somehow, but its pretty darn fun so i'm trying not to worry about it.

i think it all goes back to lack of quantitative metrics for a surf wave -- you could probably measure wave height if you really tried, but push, lip, transition, etc are all qualitative descriptors.  the engineer in me would love to take a sabbatical and figure out a way to quantify push and other metrics (lasers? force sensors probing the wave face? etc) -- but the industry probably wouldn't want such a metric else each marketing department would be screwed.  right now they can all claim the best / biggest / most tunable etc and no one can prove them wrong.  if i had a study that said your push is XX Joules per kilogram per parsec, they would freak out and work to maximize that metric...probably to the detriment of other factors.

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39 minutes ago, wdr said:

I don’t think you would ever get a consensus on “if you set up your boat this way, it will have the best wave!” There are too many variables to account for, even on the same boat on the same day of use. People off and on, fuel usage, less cooler ballast… Especially true for me boating on a river in current and depth that can change hourly. You also have to deal with personality variable. “This wave is meh, compared to our first run this morning”. Truth is nothing changed except she got tired. We are getting newer friends with wake boats, with a number being Malibus 2013-2018. My advice to them is always the same. Tell them “my base” line numbers, full MLS, 570 pnp [email protected] 75%, speed at 11.2mph with an 850 in the bow. My wife’s preference is a very lippy wave so 4 on the wedge. Then tell them to start with that and play with the numbers until you find your baseline. I am running a 16” prop on my M5 now, so it isn’t even going to be close as far as rpm’s go on a similar boat.

i 100% understand and agree with what you are saying.  I guess my confusion comes form the overwhelming number of posts/requests (not just on this site) from people who are having trouble dialing in a good wave.  Are they just searching for that elusive "perfect" wave?  Or are they actually working with garbage?  

Im always trying to learn.  It would be cool to see a video tutorial that showed how different ballast levels/wedge settings change a wave. 

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You just have to play with it to figure it out.  I experience this with almost every friend with and owners of a wake-boat. They don’t put in the time to figure it out. I tell them not to worry about the final settings or numbers, to adjust it until they get it right and see what setting it lands on.  I have a friend with an FI 25 w/ram fill which you would think would throw a Mack Daddy wave and another friend with a new SL. Both of their wives prefer our wave. Not that it is necessarily better 🤫 I just have put the time in (420 hrs on this one) to figure the boat out and how to get what a certain rider likes. Still have issues on occasion and have to adjust on the fly with the wedge mostly, but not often. They can say what they want about Malibus, but no one can argue about the tailor ability of the waves. 

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Everyone like a different wave, i have people on my boat who want a short peaky high wave, and those who want a long beefy mellow wave, it depends on the rider more than anything else. 

We also surf between 10.5 and 12.5 depending on the rider, their weight, experience etc...

there is only the wave that you enjoy , that's all that matters, the ability to manipulate the wave and move things around is what's so great, people just have to play with their boat and find what each rider prefers. 

I'm constantly playing with my wave and it take me a good season to find all the little tweaks that work best, and then change things around for each person.  

perfection is in the eye of the beholder

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28 minutes ago, Texan32 said:

It would be cool to see a video tutorial that showed how different ballast levels/wedge settings change a wave. 

this is totally do-able, and you are right that rarely do videos show all the 'bad wave' settings that may help you identify if you are under-weight, vs under speed, etc.  Just need a go-pro mount and to sweep thru some speeds, couple ballast levels, and a few wedge settings...  Guenther Oka did a T250 video that showed Wedge from 1 thru 6 i think, was nice to see the progression but baseline was already a good wave;  couple others have done similar, but they are rare.

 

1 minute ago, wdr said:

They can say what they want about Malibus, but no one can argue about the tailor ability of the waves. 

i find the power wedge to be super handy and easy to learn/control to go from mellow to steep real easy.  A buddy has a MC X24 and it throws a great big wave, and he could probably fine tune the shape/curl way more than i can...but that ability is enabled by 3 different tabs on the back so the combinations of settings are way more complex and any time we've tried to tune it, we always seem to make it worse;  so we live with the presets (either mellow or push) and probably leave some performance on the table just due to complexity (he is on season 3 with the boat and still doesn't bother).  I'm sure its partially a learning curve, but i've been glad as a new wakeboat owner to just fill everything and use the wedge to choose small, medium or large. 

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"Best" Wave? Best wave will have a nice clean face from the swim deck and back 25 or more feet. Hip high about 6-8 feet from swim deck. Edge over the prop wash that you can crash and slide.

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5 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

A buddy has a MC X24 and it throws a great big wave

My best bud has a '22 X24.  It is the best wave I have been on.  But I used to say we could buy two of my boats for one of his....not really the case any more...

Love the adjustability of the Bu.  Simple with wedge and speed.  We have a buddy that still can't get his '22 SL450 'dialed in' with all the pitch, roll and so forth.  It might be 'operator error...  Awesome boat, though.

One thing that isn't mentioned is board type.  Surf style and skim seem to require different wave types.  This can be a factor, too.

We'll be riding the '22 25 LSV this weekend at the Just Ride Tour.  Hoping it blows the CFO away (wife) with more than just the rear facing seats so we can upgrade....  :thumbup:

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1 hour ago, SmoothbrainA22 said:

 Yes, Malibu paid the company to do the study - but you can't argue with data

I'm an engineer, I can always argue with data LOL. 

I liked their attempt but have read criticisms about setups being wrong for the other boats which is probably legit since this thread was started by people trying to optimize just malibu's wave, let alone the drastically different systems across brands. 

I've seen other YouTube videos by non malibu dealers take out a Bu trade in as their comparison point and the wave looks awful cause the speed, wedge and ballast are all way off what we on TMC would recommend.

I would love to go to a polar plunge event like done a few times out west a few years ago. They took a dozen boats, all tuned by their owner, spentd the day hauling folks around and swapping crew. That would be a blast and super informative.

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15 hours ago, Five Cent Worth said:

One thing that isn't mentioned is board type.  Surf style and skim seem to require different wave types.  This can be a factor, too.

I dont know that I've heard this.  Can you expand?

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13 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

I've seen other YouTube videos by non malibu dealers take out a Bu trade in as their comparison point and the wave looks awful cause the speed, wedge and ballast are all way off what we on TMC would recommend.

I would love to go to a polar plunge event like done a few times out west a few years ago. They took a dozen boats, all tuned by their owner, spentd the day hauling folks around and swapping crew. That would be a blast and super informative.

Marketing!  Use people's ignorance to you advantage.  Unfortunately, there is ALOT of brand loyalty.  Even if a particular boat makes a better surf wave or wakeboard wake, peoples lifelong bias can keep them from admitting it.  Case and point....look at Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge truck debate.  

  • Haha 1
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39 minutes ago, Texan32 said:

look at Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge truck debate

So, which one of those makes a better surf wave?  :biggrin:

  • Haha 4
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14 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

I'm an engineer, I can always argue with data LOL. 

This I should have been prepared for, as I was raised by one. :)

14 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

I liked their attempt but have read criticisms about setups being wrong for the other boats which is probably legit since this thread was started by people trying to optimize just malibu's wave, let alone the drastically different systems across brands. 

This is probably true. The way I'm looking at it is regardless of bias or setups or whatever, it is what led me further down the Malibu/Axis path and ultimately to purchase a new A22 - and to this site with you fine folk. I was disappointed that it wasn't an independent study, but I don't know of anyone with that type of technology that is running around wanting to get granular on wave quality of tow boats. Hahaha.

An event like the one you are talking about seems to be the only unbiased way to judge wave quality. 

I for one felt that the Malibu/Axis line provided way more opportunity to tailor fit the wave for the needs of the rider. Still learning, but can't argue with that thus far.

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1 hour ago, Texan32 said:

I dont know that I've heard this.  Can you expand?

The general philosophy i've heard is that tall/steep waves are better for surf-style as they have deep fins to hold you in that wave and you can pop off the lip/curl.  Flatter waves can be preferable for skim-style when you want to do spins and have no fins (so a steep wave makes it more likely to have board slip out from under you).  That's a high level generality of course; I am sure a good rider can work with either - i just got a skim-style so will see this summer how much that rule-of-thumb holds for me. @Five Cent Worth may have a better explanation or more first -hand experience to share.

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5 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:

The general philosophy i've heard is that tall/steep waves are better for surf-style as they have deep fins to hold you in that wave and you can pop off the lip/curl.  Flatter waves can be preferable for skim-style when you want to do spins and have no fins (so a steep wave makes it more likely to have board slip out from under you).  That's a high level generality of course; I am sure a good rider can work with either - i just got a skim-style so will see this summer how much that rule-of-thumb holds for me. @Five Cent Worth may have a better explanation or more first -hand experience to share.

I am a novice on a good day of surfing.  But I agree with everything above and coincides with my experience.  There are some guys on here that can get around a wave.  They'll be able to build on this more if needed.

There are a ton of us engineers lurking on here....  ;)

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I like steeper and taller for doing turns and surf style maneuvering, and I flatten it out and get it a little shorter (usually just by adjusting wedge down) when attempting 360's etc.  Another thing you can do to stretch out the sweet spot is turn a bit to the side you are surfing on.  I usually turn a little when someone is about to attempt a 360 to help them out a bit and allow them to catch back up to wave speed after the 360.

Edited by PNWoke
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On 6/14/2022 at 6:50 AM, wdr said:

I don’t think you would ever get a consensus on “if you set up your boat this way, it will have the best wave!” There are too many variables to account for, even on the same boat on the same day of use. People off and on, fuel usage, less cooler ballast… Especially true for me boating on a river in current and depth that can change hourly. You also have to deal with personality variable. “This wave is meh, compared to our first run this morning”. Truth is nothing changed except she got tired. We are getting newer friends with wake boats, with a number being Malibus 2013-2018. My advice to them is always the same. Tell them “my base” line numbers, full MLS, 570 pnp [email protected] 75%, speed at 11.2mph with an 850 in the bow. My wife’s preference is a very lippy wave so 4 on the wedge. Then tell them to start with that and play with the numbers until you find your baseline. I am running a 16” prop on my M5 now, so it isn’t even going to be close as far as rpm’s go on a similar boat.

I agree with all of this.  our wave can change by the hour. You have to know your boat, make slight modifications to keep the wave in the sweet spot and know what kind of wave the rider wants.  You just "know" when you have the optimal wave.  From the driver's seat I can tell by watching the surfer (ie: usually my wife who knows our boat/wave well) what needs to change to dial it in.  And I know when I am back behind the boat if the wave is "right"... and I can communicate with my wife on the slight changes needed to get it dialed in.  Fuel usage(wieght shift) over the day has a big impact.  Kids in or out of the bow also has an impact... as does wind, current, etc.  That is why I almost only surf when it is just my wife and kids in the boat.. start to fill the boat of with friends with them moving around and things start to get tricky (plus they don't seem to stay in one place.. they love to move around the boat effecting the wave.)  

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On 6/15/2022 at 5:42 AM, CaptainMorgan said:

The general philosophy i've heard is that tall/steep waves are better for surf-style as they have deep fins to hold you in that wave and you can pop off the lip/curl.  Flatter waves can be preferable for skim-style when you want to do spins and have no fins (so a steep wave makes it more likely to have board slip out from under you).  That's a high level generality of course; I am sure a good rider can work with either - i just got a skim-style so will see this summer how much that rule-of-thumb holds for me. @Five Cent Worth may have a better explanation or more first -hand experience to share.

I thought it was just the opposite... steep wave for skim and flatter longer wave for surf since you can easily add speed when you need it.  )at least that is how I have been doing it... but knowing how I live my life, I might be doing it totally wrong.

 

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Generally a boats wave can be maximized to its full potential with the addition of lead. Additional lead simulates having more crew, xcept the lead isn't in the surfing rotation.

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