If you are new to wakeboarding and need some info on how to choose the right wakeboard then this is the guide for you.
What exactly is a wakeboard? Wakeboards are buoyant boards that are kind of a mix between a surfboard and a snowboard. Oh and a water ski. The core of the wakeboard is made up of honeycomb or foam mixed up with resin and coated with fiberglass. Wakeboards are shorter in length and wider when compared with snowboards. They are also thicker so that they have more volume and therefore more buoyancy.
Where do wakeboards come from?
In 1985 two surfers Tony Finn of San Diego and Redmon of Texas made small surfboards that were designed to be towed behind a boat. Finn called his board a “skurfer” as it was a cross between a water ski and surfboard. Redmond at first they called his thing (no pun intended:) ) a “skiboard” but changed it in favor of “wakeboard” in order to avoid confusion with the snow skiboard. The term “wakeboard” was coined by Paul Fraser of Canada.
If you are not completely new to wakeboarding you probably heard of O’Brien wakeboards. Herb O’Brein is the owner of H.O. Sports and a successful businessman. He introduced the compression molded neutral buoyancy wakeboard called the Hyperlite. This innovation helped the sport grow massively into what is today popularly known as wakeboarding. This Hyperlite’s neutral buoyancy made wakeboarding accessible to everyone from age of 4 to 80. The boards were getting better as the sport grew. Redmon made the final improvement of the board in 1993 by developing the twin tip wakeboard which is now the standard one.
Wakeboards and their characteristics
The “rocker” is the bend in a wakeboard from tip to tail. The most common rocker shape is a continuous rocker. That means that the bottom of the wakeboard is a smooth curve all the way from tip to tail. Another type of rocker is a three-stage rocker. With three-stage rocker a wakeboard has three bottom areas with two points where the curve of the bottom changes. Kind of like a skateboard deck, but much much smoother.
Why different wakeboard rocker? Continuous rocker wakeboards are faster (water flows smoothly over the bottom) and wakeboard with three-stage rocker will push more water infront of it, because of the steeper front part making wakeboard slower. On the other hand you will be able to jump higher off the water.
You could go with the manufacturers sizing chart or you could go with what feels best for you. The difference in lenght makes the wakeboard either more manouvrable or smoother to ride. So a short wakeboard will feel lighter, spin faster and seem more aggressive. On the other hand it will make landings more difficult. A longer wakeboard is a bit slower while you are dooing tricks but landings are easier and the ride is smoother.
You meassure the width of the wakeboard in three places – tip, tail and middle. Tip and tail should generally be the same width. If narrow they make wakeboard turn faster. If they are wider wakeboards are better for surface tricks. You also get better release for spins off the wake.
But the main meassurement is the width in the midle of the wakeboard. Wider wakeboards will sit higher in the water and will bounce higher off the wake, so wider wakeboard mean higher jumps.
Wakeboards Bottom Design
This is where shapers play. You can have wakeboards with channels, concaves and flat section in all possible combinations. Every setup has a different function for instance – Concaves create lift and make the wakeboard sit higher in the water. That’s not all, it is also importatn where on the wakeboard the concaves are. Channel on the other hand act like fins, they direct the flow of the water under the wakeboard and make it hold its direction better. If the bottom is completely flat the tip, tail and width of the wakeboard determine hoe the wakeboard will ride.
The shape and the placement of the fins both play an important role in the feel of the wakeboard. If the fins are closer to the center of the wakeboard it will be quicker to release from the wake and vice versa. Fin shapes vary from molded fins to multi fin setups.
Long based wakeboard fins
Its all about the surface area of the fin. You will have better release and a looser wakeboard with these.
Molded wakeboard fins
As the name says these fins are a part of the wakeboard, the are kind of like big channels in the board that act like fins. The slip faster so most of the boards also have a center fin to help with that.
Multi Fin Setup
Multi Fin Setup will give you maximum edge hold.
Canted side fins
These fins have an angle and only start to play bigger role when you lean on edge of the wakeboard. That is when they “grab”.
Cupped side fins
The effect is similar to canted fins. The have a hold of bigger fins.
Wakeboards fo beginners
So what kind of wakeboard to choose? The boards configuration, binding and the positioning of the fins vary according to the preferences of the rider, and the type of trick he is trying to master. But for beginners there are a few pointers that will make the first steps easier:
Get a longer wakeboard – it will have more buoyancy, it will float better and your arms will not get tired after a few minutes. Smaller wakeboard tries to sink deeper into the water so there is more resistance working against you.
Bigger fins – bigger fins, more control when you are wakeboarding in a straght line. Wakeboard will hold its direction better and it will be easier for beginners to control it.
Simple bindings – when you are better you will want to have more control over your board and make your bindings tighter. But at the beginning make sure your feet can slide out of the binginds if you fall. But do not overdo it :) as it will get much harder to cnotrol the wakeboard if your feet float inside the bindings.
Stay away from cheap turist wakeboards. As soon as you try both – the rent-a-cheap wakeboard or a regular wakeboard you will feel the difference. Tons of it. Most of the time these wakeboard have a very soft edge and are therefore hard to turn and ride on the edge.
Enjoy buying your wakeboards and even more – riding them.