Surf’s Up in Hong Kong

At first glance, wakeboarding and wakesurfing appear to be difficult, advanced sports. But being firm believers that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’, we eschewed popular opinion and embarked on a mission to find out for ourselves, compliments of Law Society.

To ensure we were thoroughly prepared before hitting the waves, we received instruction from coaches at Wakesurfection (wakesurfection.com), housed at the Hong Kong Wakesurf School. Wakesurfection has been offering wakeboarding, wakesurfing and scuba diving lessons for more than six years. It was actually one of the first schools to bring wakesurfing lessons to Hong Kong. With all of its coaches on staff being qualified to provide and teach marine rescue and CPR, we felt as if we were in competent hands.

At 11:30 AM sharp, we gathered at the Ap Lei Chau pier. The cloudy weather was a bit foreboding, but we boarded the wake boat – the Epic Wake 23V – intent to set out on what turned into a memorable adventure.

Our Wake Boat: the Epic Wake 23V

The Epic Wake 23V is a spacious 23- foot boat that is manufactured by Epic Boats, a US-based company that has been building marine boats tough enough to withstand tough salt water conditions for years.

From the perspective or a wakesurfer, it was great to see that the 23V’s features are specifically tailored for wakesurfing, as compared to boats designed for wakeboarding. Most notably, the 23V has a 4000-pound ballast system with 4000-pounds of ballast to produce a large wake to surf on or to jump off. The 23V’s ballast system is a fast fill system; rather than using pumps to fill the boat’s ballast tanks, it uses gate valves that allow water to rush in more quickly and fill up the tanks. When you are done and ready to empty the ballast tanks, just open the valves and drive the 23V at a moderate speed, gravity will take care of the rest of the work and empty the tanks quickly. For the serious wakesurfer, you can shape your wake with three surf trim tabs to ensure you have the best wake to surf on. These features provide a sizeable, never-ending wave that is perfect for the surfer to surf on even in calm waters.

Epic’s 23V is the first diesel engine boat of this class, providing greater fuel efficiency and torque for wakesurfing and wakeboarding compared with petrol engines. Diesel engines are known to be robust and lower maintenance. The V8 turbo diesel engine, is built by Mercury Marine, one of the largest global manufacturers of boat engines and parts; meaning you can get worldwide support and easy maintenance, as Mercury-qualified technicians are located throughout Asia.

The 23V’s hull is unique and is built using the resin infusion method. This unique method creates a vacuum over the hull skeleton; the vacuum sucks the resin onto the 23V’s skeleton, ensuring it is spread evenly and uniformly. This provides greater strength, reduced weight and greater fuel efficiency. As this method is extremely difficult to execute, only the best manufacturers use it.

This boat is also designed for the comfort and safety of the wakeboarder or wakesurfer. A fresh air exhaust will send any boat exhaust deep underwater so it doesn’t blow into the rider’s face.

The 23V’s transom mounted speakers mean that the rider can hear his or her favourite music while riding. They are also safer than tower mounted speakers since you can easily bump your head against them.

A unique dual rudder steering system gives this boat superb handling. Consequently, this makes this boat a pleasure to drive whether you are an experienced or a beginner driver. If you prefer someone else driving, Wakesurfection can help you secure a driver.

The engine is mounted in-board with soundproofing materials placed along the engine compartment, which make for a relatively quiet ride. We were able to chat with each other at ease on board. Even while surfing on the water, we could clearly hear our coach’s instructions.

It also has a large swim platform making getting in and out of the water easy. A large bimini provides excellent sun protection but can easily be lowered by a single person.

Wakesurfing

Wakesurfing has becomes one of the newest and coolest crazes to hit Hong Kong’s waters in recent years. While it is a relatively new water sport and an offshoot of wakeboarding, it is gaining popularity among novices and seasoned water-sport athletes alike.

Basically, it is a combination of wakeboarding and surfing, which allows you to enjoy two of the most amazing water sports in one go! Our coaches, along with others from Wakesurfection, work with pro wakesurfers in California, so they were well versed in all the latest wakesurfing tricks.

While wakesurfing is similar to surfing, it uses the waves mechanically created by a motorboat. Wakes from motorboats create waves similar to those found in oceans, plied by traditional surfers. However, in order to surf on a motorboat wave, the boat must be specially designed to create a wave that has sufficient force to carry an adult surfer. Epic boats with their fast fill ballast tanks and port, starboard and centre surf trim tabs create one of the best waves to surf on. Like ocean waves, there is a break and a curl, which wakesurfers can ride and use to perform tricks like dips, sharp turns and spins. So you can enjoy wakesurfing in almost any conditions.

Wakesurfers generally stand on a surfboard of about 1.5 meters long trailing behind a motorboat. After getting up on the wake, typically by use of a tow rope, the wakesurfers will then drop the rope, and ride the steep face below the wave’s peak in a fashion reminiscent of surfing. There are no more tow ropes, no cables, no paddling out, just you, a boat and a never-ending wave!

After our instructor briefed us and provided brief demonstrations, we gave it a go. All of us being newbies, we initially struggled to maintain our balance on the surfboard. However, we gradually picked up the feeling and skills needed, and eventually had a number of successful runs!

Learning to wakeboard and surf was truly an amazing experience for us all, and we cannot wait to go again. If you haven’t tried your hand at either, summer is the perfect time to give it a try! A special thanks from us all to the Law Society for organising the event and to our coaches at Wakesurfection, who successfully got us up and riding. The boat was fantastic and a real joy to surf off. 

Assistant Solicitor, Tsang, Chan & Woo

Trainee Solicitor, Haldanes