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The primary function of a 'surf ski" is for down wind racing. Start at 1 point and finish at another so generally raced along a coast line. They surf but not in the same way you would surf a wave on a board. Great on big fat swell.
Large swell with 20+ knots behind you is very exhilarating. The South Africans led the charge design wise.

Here in Oz, it gets a bit confusing. Our surf skis are used by Surf Life Savers and are different altogether. They are used for racing through the surf and back in. Short races as opposed to 20km down winders. When the new "surf skis" came on the scene, we called them Ocean racing skis. Nowadays we call the surf life saving skis Spec Skis and the ocean racers are now referred to as surf skis because that's what the rest of the world calls them.
We call our SLSA skis spec skis because they are bound by specifications to be eligible to race; 5.8 M long, 500mm min beam, 18kg in weight. Even they they are shorter, fatter and heavier than an ocean ski, they are far tipper and not for the faint of heart.

Video is of my favourite place to surf my ski. Generally flat but come cyclone season non-stop 400metre rides.

The trick to surfing them in down wind swell is to accelerate in to the rear of the wave as it passes through. This gets you up to planing speed ready for the next wave to grab and take you for a ride.

Having said that, I see very few people on the new ocean skis actually surfing. I uses the majority of newer ski paddlers have come from sea kayak background looking for speed or K1 looking to add distance to speed.