Hey Hawk is this your older SunSport you are riding behind? Let me know and I can give you lots of tips we surfed all summer.
I put one sac in rear locker, one on port floor and one under bow on port side (tucked back under the spotters seat glovebox) for about 1400lbs + people. It's usually waist high.
As far as being too close to the swimstep...yes you are close but the sweet spot should be 3-4 ft back all the way back to 15-20 ft back. Are you using a surf rope? They have well spaced sections.
You will get used to the distance back as well as how to be in CONTROL of that distance. Your weight on your back foot is the brakes, the front foot the gas.
I do notice a lot of exhaust and loud noise when surfing. I have purchased Fresh Air Exhaust but haven't been able to complete the installation yet due to my scheduling.
You are always pretty close - I can start off the swim platform, surf, and then hop back on the platform when I'm done.
Only once have I a problem - you know on a skateboard how some people lose their balance and fall off backwards and KICK the board? Well a friend kicked an ocean surf board into the back of the boat and the tip exploxded!
I have never had anyone hit the platform while riding or falling. No rope burn/tangle incidents either.
The SunSport makes an AWESOME older wake boat. Here are the best of my pics from this summer. http://www.wakeworld.com/MB/Discus/messages/87668/605405.html?1217336236