If you are wakesurfing with your boat heeled over, you should know there’s a better way.
I was looking for a better wakesurfing experience without having to replace my Axis A22 with a different boat. It worked to fill one side with ballast and heel the boat over, but I figured there had to be a better way. That’s when I found Surf Assist, a trim tab-like device that creates a better wake.
There are written instructions, but go to gosurfassist.com and watch the installation video before installing the tabs. The video showed the install on a different model, but it was very helpful.
- Impact driver
- #3 Phillips bit
- 7/16-inch socket
- Allen wrenches
- 1/2-inch wrench and socket
- 3/8-, 3/16- and 21/64-inch drill bits
- 1-inch hole saw
- Marine-grade silicone
- The SR-71 kit costs $4,000.
Tape the back of the transom where you will be drilling, to avoid chipping the gelcoat. Measure in about four inches from the outside of the boat (1), which will be the farthest outside edge of the tab. Once you make the mark, hold the tab up to be sure nothing is in its way, such as a platform, lights or brackets. Also, make sure there is enough room for the upper mounting brackets for the actuators.
Now you’re ready to mark and drill the holes for the hinges (2). Place the hinge to where the outer edge of the hinge is at the four-inch mark you made previously, and tape it into place. Be sure the hinge is not hanging below the bottom of the boat. Using a 3/16-inch drill bit, mark the holes by running your drill in reverse. When drilling the actual hole, run the drill in reverse with a 3/8-inch drill bit until it is through the gelcoat and into the fiberglass, to keep from cracking the gelcoat, and then finish the hole with a 3/16-inch bit with the drill in forward. Fill the holes with marine-grade silicone (3) and screw on the hinge with the supplied screws, using the spacer if the area is not totally flat. Before tightening the screws, apply more silicone where the hinge will sit on the boat. Tighten all the screws starting from the center and going outward, but do not over tighten them. Next, bolt the tab to the hinge with the nuts facing up.
Attach the mounting bracket to the back of the actuator, and on the other end attach the actuator to the bottom center hole on the tab and let it hang for now. Fully extend the actuator using a 12v battery. For this next part, I used a free Angle Finder app I downloaded to my smartphone. Put the phone on the bottom of the boat in the direction the tab will be deployed and calibrate it to read zero (4). Then, hold the tab up until you get a 10- to 12-degree reading on the Angle Finder (5). With the upper mounting bracket up against the transom, mark the spot. Make sure the upper mounting bracket is squared up with the hinge. Before drilling, retract the actuator and make sure it clears all obstructions. If everything clears, disconnect the upper mounting bracket from the actuator and then mount the bracket to the transom, using the supplied spacer to get it the correct distance from the hinge. After the bracket is mounted, drill out the last hole with a 21/64-inch drill bit so you can feed the actuator cable through. Be sure to apply silicone around the cable. Reconnect the actuator to the upper mounting bracket and the tab is done. Repeat on the other side.
Install the connectors to the cables from the actuator. Plug the supplied wiring — port and starboard — to the actuator (6). Run all the wires down the starboard side, making sure to tie them up to the existing wire harness all the way up to the helm (7). Make sure nothing rubs, gets tangled or interferes with anything (8).
Mount the switches. I put mine by the throttle so they are easy to access. Take the template provided (9) and find where you want them. Again, make sure nothing is behind where you are drilling. Drill the four outer bolt holes that are marked, using a 1/4-inch drill bit. Next, use a 1-inch hole saw to drill the other marked holes (10) and then mount the switch.
Mount the controls and wire it up, taking care to position the control box where all the wires will reach. All plug-ins are different, so you cannot mix them up. Mount your GPS puck and then hook up the power and ground (preferably to a Perko switch). The system will be installed and ready to go (11), but you will need a GPS signal so the system will automatically retract the tabs if your speed exceeds 15 mph. On my boat, the bunks of the trailer were in the way, so I moved the boat farther back on the bunks to gain clearance. You can also call technical support and talk to Ryan, who will help you with any issues.
Did it Work?
After testing the system on the trailer, I launched the boat. Instead of having to only fill one side with ballast and have the boat heel way over to surf, I filled all my ballast tanks evenly and the wave was even bigger. Surf Assist worked better than I expected; it’s really nice to be able to push a button to switch sides and do transfers.