Let’s start with size –
When choosing which length wakeboard is right for you the most important factor that will determine the best fit is weight. Each wakeboard is designed with specific sizing recommendations from the manufacturer, these recommendations are based on weight, not height. Weight plays the biggest roll in choosing a wakeboard as each board size is designed to have the best performance within a certain weight range.
If you are buying a wakeboard for a range of riders it is best to base your selection on the heaviest rider or the rider who will be using the board most often. Smaller riders will have an easier time adapting to a larger board, but bigger riders will have trouble riding a board that is too small as it won’t have enough volume to keep the rider gliding across the water with ease.*
*note, although a smaller rider can most definitely use a bigger board, a board that’s too big may be hard to control especially in the air, and will be less maneuverable if the rider lacks power. If you have riders with a significant weight difference, it would be best to get two boards to fill the gap.
You may wonder if height plays a role in determining your wakeboard size. The only thing height will affect is your stance (how far apart your feet are on the board), generally riders will set up their stance to match their shoulder width. If you are buying a board that is specific to you, you won’t need to worry about height as every board has multiple stance settings to widen or narrow your stance. If you are buying a board for riders with a large height gap (+/- 1 foot), smaller riders will most likely have a stance that is too wide.
Sizing up or sizing down
Reasons to Choose a Shorter Wakeboard –
Typically, there is not much advantage to sizing down unless you are an advanced rider. Smaller boards will be slower in the water as they have less surface area, so it will take more energy out of the rider to utilize the boards performance. On the contrary, smaller boards will be easier to flip and spin when jumping the wake as they are lighter and more maneuverable out of the water. Less surface area in the board will make your landings harder and increase the chance of your nose going under, insert faceplant photo here*
Reasons to Choose a Longer Wakeboard –
Riding a longer wakeboard will have opposite effects of riding a shorter wakeboard. They will be faster and glide better across the water because they have more surface area but will be less maneuverable in the air due to size and weight. Longer wakeboards are nice to learn jumping on because they will be more stable and easier to control, not to mention softer on the landings. Generally, longer boards will give you stability throughout your ride and lower your chance of catching an edge and smacking face!
Now that you’ve got your size figured out let’s chat ability level –
There are three levels you can categorize yourself as, and trust us, an accurate self-assessment will put you on a better fit board for you and help you move up the ranks.
Beginner & Intermediate
If you are a first timer, just learning to jump the wake, or hop on the board for a mellow cruise once-in-a-while, we recommend a beginner / intermediate board. These boards are designed to be much more stable and forgiving allowing the rider ease while in the water. Good rocker styles (see below) for a beginner / intermediate are continuous or mellow 3-stage.
Intermediate & Advanced
So, you’re comfortable carving both directions and have got clearing the wake down, but it’s time to up the bag of tricks, this is the category you should shop in. The intermediate / advanced category has the most options and a wide range of rocker styles and board shapes, so take your time when choosing as these differences will affect the direction of your riding style.
Advanced & Expert
If you’re in this category, chances are you already know exactly what you want out of a board, but in case you’re wondering, these products are for the rider who is dialed on the board and proficient on the water, you can spin, flip, and often get the ooh’s and ahh’s from onlookers, all you need is another ripping board. These are the most aggressive rocker styles that will be found in the pros quiver.
Now that you’ve figured out your size and ability level, all that’s left is choosing a style –
When we use the term style, we’re talking about the actual construction of the wakeboard and what kind of riding it’s designed to accommodate. There are 3 main aspects that make up the style of the board: rocker, base shapes, and fins & edges.
Rocker is the bend you see in the boards profile if you look at it directly from the side. Continuous and 3-stage rocker types are the most common, but some boards also have a hybrid rocker which is the mix of the two.
A continuous rocker board has a consistent bend in the profile with no soft or abrupt edges in the side profile, these are designed to be the fastest boards while maintaining a smooth ride and consistency in and out of the wake. They are slightly less aggressive so if you’re looking for good carves and softer landings the stability in the continuous rocker board will be great.
Wakeboards with 3-stage rocker have flatter bottoms, with the tip and tale raised at a more abrupt angle, thus 3-stage or 3 plane. These boards are intended to give more “pop” or lift of the wake, if you’re strictly looking to catch as much air as possible this may be the style for you. The fallback of 3-stage boards is their speed and landing impact. Because of their planar design, 3-stages boards are looser, less stable, and don’t cut through the water as well– reducing their speed. They also have a flatter base making landings harder and edge catching more prominent.
Hybrid rocker wakeboards are self-explanatory, they are a nice blend of both rocker styles and mix the pros and cons of both rockers to make a ride that– isn’t the fastest, nor slowest, not the poppiest, but still good pop, middle of the road for stability and carving, and landings that don’t smack but also aren’t cushy. They are the perfect option for someone who’s riding replicates both continuous and 3-stage rocker styles.
When looking at the base (or bottom) of a wakeboard, each board will have different features, some will have no features at all. These features consist of concaves, channels, spines, and fins, each designed to give the boards a different feel on the water. To sum it up in the simplest of terms, a board that has more features on the base will most likely do three things – add stability, increase speed (especially when the board is on edge) and disperse the water on ladings to take less impact on the knees.
Here are some examples of base shape –
Featureless – No concave, no fins, no channels, no spines. This boards riding style is based solely on its rocker and edge design. Featureless boards are common for cable riding, or riding where you want the board to slip around and drift across the water without wanting to straighten out.
V-Spine – Spines that help soften landing are often seen on three stage rockers to make up for a flatter base i.e., soften landings.
Concaves – indents on the bottom of the board to help generate lift and reduce the board suctioning to the water, this will increase speed and help the board cruise better.
Channels – long extruding ridges that run the length of the board direct water down the center of the board and through the fins. This helps with board stability and direction; it will also help keep the board up to speed while on edge and disperse water making for softer landings.
The more or longer the fins the more grip the board will have to the water. Fins increase stability and direct the water through the base to help with direction and softening landings. Some boards will have no fins, most have one in each corner, and some will have corner fins plus removable center fins to help entry level riders.
Sharpness – All wakeboards will have different edge or rail sharpness depending on its intended design, the sharper the edge, the better that board will track and hold speed. The drawback of a sharper edge is the increased likelihood of catching an edge and smacking the water. Riders who like to do more surface tricks and slides will want a board with rounder edges where riders who want that perfect carve on a glassy morning will likely enjoy a board with sharper edges.
Variable Edge Wakeboards – a variable edge board will blend both rounder (thicker) edges toward the center of the board with sharper (thinner) edges in the tip and tail. This will allow the rider to hold speed and track better in their turns while reducing the chances of catching and edge while performing surface tricks and slides. Variable edge boards will give you a perfect carve toward the wake, come in fast, and exit your maneuver holding speed. The duality also creates a center “pop” with an edge better suited for carving.