Looking for a new wakeboard? Also known as boat boards, wakeboards are a great way to have fun on the water. Every wake park offers a boat board that you can use as to familiarize yourself with the recreational activity. As you get used to it however, it’s usually best to buy your own boat boards and gain the full experience of wakeboarding.
Understanding the Parts of a Wakeboard
Even before we talk about how to choose a wakeboard, it’s important to first identify its different parts. This way, you can instantly recognize each component when browsing through shops and have a clear idea on how they would contribute to the overall riding style of the board. A wakeboard has three major parts:
The material used to build the board core is very important. Currently, the most common is a foam core, creating lighter and cheaper boards. Beginners may choose this type of board to practice on. However, more advanced riders opt for a wood core. These boards have a better flex which provides for an improved handling of the board during rides. This will give you a better feel of the ride and really get you into the spirit of wakeboarding. In terms of durability, however, note that the foam type will give you a longer service life. A third material called graphite is being experimented on as the wakeboard core. Graphite is lighter than wood but with a stiffer surface which should help with the control. While rare, it’s possible to find wakeboards today that are made of graphite. Just keep in mind that they can be quite expensive.
The Tip and Tail
The tip and the tail refer to either edges of the board. They’re the part that are slightly curved upward. The height of the curve affects how well you receive a wake as it pushed towards you on the water. You will often see varied angles of the tip and tail depending on the kind of rocker board you have.
The rocker basically refers to the shape of the board. Does it have a curved center or is it flat? The type of rocker predicts the stability of the board when negotiating a wake. Complete beginners are advised to pay close attention to the rocker of their first board in order to improve their control.
The fin is actually an optional part of the wakeboard. In fact, some boards have removable fins which makes them perfect for complete beginners. The main function of the fin is for additional control. Some boards also come with built in molded fins.
Ideal Wakeboard Size and Wakeboard Length
The size and length of your wakeboard depend on the rider weight. Here are the general guidelines for buying wakeboard length depending on your weight:
- less than 100 pounds – 130cm or less
- 90 to 150 pounds – 130-134cm
- 130 to 180 pounds – 135-139cm
- 170 to 250 pounds – 140-144cm
- 200 to 275 pounds or more – 144cm or bigger
Note though that these are just general guidelines on board size. Most manufacturers have their own guidelines when it comes to the right wakeboard length depending on your weight. If your brand comes with a wakeboard size chart, make sure you follow those guidelines.
Following the guidelines on size and weight is important because you want to hit that perfect level of riding control. For example, if you’re too heavy for the board you’re using, then it might sink slightly and make it harder for you to ride on the water. A lighter board on the other hand makes control more difficult and therefore more dangerous.
Shorter Wakeboard versus Longer Wakeboard
If you will notice in the previous paragraph, there’s a minimum and maximum length for every weight class. For example, if you are 100 pounds, you can have anywhere from 130 to 134 cm longer board length. Should you choose the minimum 130cm or the maximum 134cm? It depends.
As a rule, a decreased surface area results to a slower board. A smaller board therefore may slow you down and make it more difficult to maneuver on the surface of the water. The upside is that since it is lighter, it’s actually easier to perform tricks. Take care with the landing however because these shorter boards create a harsher impact which could cause you to stumble.
In contrast, you have the longer board with more surface area. This means that the larger wakeboard is faster on the water and you actually have better control. It would also be heavier which means you have to work against the air. For beginners, the larger board is a good place to start when performing tricks. This is because the longer wakeboard typically provides softer landings which should help prevent injuries while you get started.
How Wakeboard Width Affects Wakeboarding Skills
Of course, don’t forget that the width of the wakeboard matters just as much as its length. The most obvious contribution of width is with the surface of the boat board. A narrower and smaller wakeboard also carves beautifully on the water. Wider boat boards beautifully pop off the wake and give you more air time for jump tricks. Remember that there are different configurations possible. You can get a shorter wakeboard with a wide base, a long one with a narrow base, or either way.
Removable Fins or Not?
As mentioned, fins are completely optional. For beginners, having fins can offer a more stable ride. Ideally, your beginner wakeboard should have removable fins to help you get started and offer better control on the water. As you hit intermediate levels, the fins can be removed so that you can concentrate more on improving your control skills on the water.
Note though that the fin itself can come in different shapes and sizes. There are narrow ones, wide ones, elongated, and short ones. There’s no straightforward rule when it comes to fins. Riders are advised to try different fin types to find the mix that best works for them.
As a general rule however, beginners should have deeper fins attached to their boards. Intermediate riders or those with a higher skill level can have shallower ones as they exercise better control on their ride. Eventually, riders ditch the molded in fins and ride finless. The primary function of the fin is to simply make sure that you are moving in the direction you want to go.
The edges of the wakeboard also matter when choosing your first one. There are three types: rounded, sharp, and variable edged. The edge of the wakeboard affects the speed and smoothness of the ride. A sharper edge means better tracking and overall speed. The downside is that catching an edge is also easier, causing the water to harshly snap against your face. It creates a very aggressive ride that lets you carve the water at a very fast and satisfying pace.
A rounded or more forgiving edge lets you have better control over the run. Specifically, it creates a more buttery feel for a smoother rider glide on the water. Many riders who prefer to perform tricks on their board opt for the rounded edge.
Finally, you have the hybrid type of the variable edge board. The center is often rounded and then grows thinners as it approaches the tip and tail of the board. This creates a better surface area in the center for grip while still catching a decent edge along the tip and tail. This lets you perform surface tricks while still carving the water beautifully. More advanced riders who like the best of both worlds often opt for the variable edge board.
Choosing Wakeboard Rocker
When checking through new wakeboard options, you’ll be confronted by the concept of a “rocker”. Exactly what is this? Well, a rocker really refers to wakeboard shapes. Specifically, it refers to the curve of the wakeboard which affects your riding ability. There are three accepted wakeboard base shapes today and how each one works:
Continuous rockers are the best choice for beginning riders. It is characterized by a single smooth curve from the tip to the tail of the wakeboard to the next. The board’s shape means that it will land flat on the surface of the water and give the user a more stable footing. These type of boards offer a smoother ride with more control. This board should give you the feel of consistency and predictability. For beginners, this makes it easy for you to anticipate the wake, adjust accordingly, and land flat on the surface in one smooth motion.
Next you have the three stage rocker which has a flatter surface area. The tip and tail have an aggressive upward curve while the center is completely flat. If you put the continuous rocker and 3-stage rocker side by side, you can instantly see the difference between the two. On the wake, the 3-stage rocker should feel just like the continuous rocker – the difference is really felt at the pop off the wake. Instead of landing flat, this type of wakeboard rocker will give you a wake-to-wake riding style. This effectively decreases control as you land from one wake to the next in a continuous series as the surface area creates more surface tension.
Next you have the hybrid rocker which promises to give you all the benefits that come from the two major options. These hybrids promise that the board moves with the consistency and stability of a Continuous type while still giving you that exciting pop off the wake indicative of a three stage rocker. If you look at the boards, the hybrid type also has a curved center but with a tip and tail that’s slightly more aggressive than a continuous. Most cable park boards offer this type for rent as it fits any skill level of the user.
Wakeboard Base Shape
Next, you have to consider the shape of the base. The base is basically the bottom of the board and is different from the rocker which is determined from a sideways glance.
V Shape Spines
This type of base shape often goes hand in hand with the three stage rocker. V shape spines help create a more forgiving landing as the rider moves from edge to edge.
These are extruded fins that work by breaking the tension on the surface of the water even before the board actually lands. It’s a lot like taking a clean dive on the water to create minimal splashing.
A concave base is characterized by small dents found on the base of the board. The dents work like suction cups that improve the lift of the board and speeds up its movement on the water. With a concave base, the wakeboard actually looks like its being lifted on top of the water.
These are wakeboard bases that have no fins, channels, or spines.
Best Riding Style for a Wakeboard
Finally, the right board for you also depends on your riding style. If you are completely new to the sport, then your riding style would be undiscovered. You will have to start from scratch and discover your personal technique as you go. If this is the case, then it’s best to choose the most basic boards: continuous boards with a softer flex and rounded edges.
However, if you’ve had some experience with other board-based sports, then you can use this as your starting point.
For example, a skateboarder or a snowboarder tends to switch their front feet while riding. Riders from this sport background would benefit from a twin-tip board so that either position would be ready to receive a wake. On the other hand, those who are used to slalom skiing tend to maintain a single foot forward. In this case, a singletip board would be much more efficient.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the right size wakeboard for me?
If you’re just starting, the right wakeboard size depends primarily on your weight. For intermediate and advanced riders, the riding style also comes into play. As you learn more about the sport, you should be able to get a feel on how to choose a wakeboard that best fits your needs.
How do I choose a wakeboard?
Buying your own wakeboard can already be an investment – which is why it’s important to choose one that fits your personal preference. A good technique is to frequent wake parks and rents some of their boards to test out. Park boards are extensive and should give you an idea about the right wakeboard for you. Once you find one that fits your ability level, this is the time to commit and actually buy a new board for your personal use.
What is the best wakeboard for beginners?
The best beginner wakeboard would be one that’s appropriate for their height and weight. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a continuous board or a three stage type – the length of the board must correspond to the weight of the user. Really, the only question that needs to be answered would be the shape of the board itself. For beginners, a continuous board would be best as this teaches control and stability on the water. Intermediate riders can advanced to a three stage board once they have more control over their ride. Of course, those who want the best of both worlds can invest in a hybrid rocker from the start.
Note that the brand of the board also matters. Once you know exactly what size and type you’re looking for, invest in a trusted brand that you can use for many years.
What is the best type of wakeboard?
There is no single best type of wakeboard. Each item is different, depending on the specific needs of its user. This is why beginners are advised to test different boards first before making their purchase. This can be done by using cable park wakeboards and assessing your experience in each one before making a commitment. Always test boards at the wake park before you buy.
What if there are multiple riders of the wakeboard?
If there are more than two people who use the wakeboard, choose the wakeboard size that fits the person who would use it more often. You can also opt for the size that fits the heavier person if you want to be on the safe side.
What accessories should I be concerned about?
A new wakebaord is just the first step. If you check out cable park boards, you’ll notice other accessories such as the bindings. Most wake park bindings are known as “open toe bindings” because this allows multiple people to use it. If you are buying your own however, a closed toe binding will provide you with better protection and grip during the ride.