Don’t have the cash to buy a $100k+ boat? Riders committed to wakesurfing on a budget have turned to drones as their new tow vehicle, dubbed ‘Dronesurfing.’ Fun? Sure looks like it! Sustainable? That’s debatable. Keep reading to see how this wakesurf hack has developed and where it could take us.

How did drones make their way into wakeboarding?

Drones have been making headlines into pop culture for some time now. We’ve all seen it. Companies like Amazon use drones to make deliveries. Some people even race them. They’re being integrated into our daily life and business practices. Privacy debates aside, drone technology is developing every year to make them stronger, more powerful, and more user friendly.

Big budget movie studios initially used drones as an inexpensive camera rig. After companies like DJI made drones more consumer friendly, they gradually began the transition into the hands of specialized wakeboarding & surfing videographers. Don’t believe us? Just watch a few edits in X Games Real Wake Videos and see if you can spot their use.

What is dronesurfing?

Tech site The Drive reported that events like drone racing are becoming popular with the first season of the Drone Racing League broadcasted to over 28 million people in the US alone. Let that audience size sink in for a minute. Yes, video is indeed the path to exposure…

With drones quickly becoming capable of heavier payloads and larger camera rigs, there’s another drone development that recently surfaced on the web – Wakesurfing with Drones A.K.A. ‘Dronesurfing.’

How it works:

While not exactly ‘surfing’, it’s an intriguing video. Skimboarding is a mini version of surfing. Skimboarders run across the beach, hop on a skimboard, and use their momentum to catch incoming beach waves. While most skimboarders catch one wave, ‘dronesurfing’ pulls the skimboarder across the water, using power created by the drone and initial momentum created by the skimboarder. Dronesurfing is not like surfing wave sets. It has more in common with kitesurfing or kiteboarding. However, Instead of using the wind and a kite to pull a surfer, the drone tows a surfer across the water. This allows skimboarders to move away from the beach and use their board in areas that were previously inaccessible. Much like kiteboarders…

What’s next for drones and wakeboarding?

With cable systems helping wakeboarding to survive [or some might say thrive]. Is dronesurfing a viable alternative to wakeboard boats and cable systems in the near future?

What’s on the Market:

Well, as of now only one drone is powerful enough to have accomplished dronesurfing successfully.  Freefly’s ALTA 8 flying machine.The drone was originally created for lifting heavy cameras used in professional filmmaking. ALTA 8 has the power to pull a weight of around 200 pounds which is enough to pull the average surfer. Pocket Lint revealed that the ALTA 8 is powerful enough to do four tows per battery pack with each tow lasting around 30 seconds.

The ALTA 8 is not powerful enough to pull a person from a stationary position. Not like a kite or cable system does at the moment. In the dronesurfing video by Freefly the surfer does a sprint start to generate the initial momentum. What it lacks in wind power it makes up for in function. The ALTA 8 not only pulls the surfer across the water, but also tracks and films the rider simultaneously.

Popularity and Tech:

Surfing, wakeboarding, and digital technology is becoming more closely linked each year and has become an important part of promoting each activity. Surfing site Club of the Waves believes that the media has had the biggest influence on surfing’s popularity. From surf movies like Point Break to online gaming developers like Slingo producing their own surfing game Wild Water, the media is constantly promoting the surfing across multiple platforms. It’s without a doubt digital technology has made wakeboarding and surfing much more accessible.

Here to stay?

Whether dronesurfing will actually take off is up for debate. The equipment isn’t cheap enough for consumer appeal at $18,000. However, like all technology, the price will come down as the technology advances. We wouldn’t be surprised if in the next decade we saw more wakeboarders and surfers using drones for something other than filming. If companies like Freefly can make drones powerful enough to pull a surfer from a stationary position, they might have the potential to overtake kites & portable wakeboard cable systems. All we know is that drones are here to stay and will be inextricably linked kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and surfing one way or another in the future.

Guest post by: Isabelle Potter