Picking the Right Wakeboard
Getting the Right Wakeboard Length
There are two key factors that go into making sure you get the right size wakeboard. Firstly is your weight, as you need greater surface area to provide you with the float you need to sit higher on the water. Secondly is your personal riding style, this can always be taken into effect as some people naturally prefer riding longer boards to shorter board, which we will explain in a minute. Keep in mind that if you're buying for a group, buy for the person who rides the most or is on the upper end of the weight scale. Also to note is that each board has a different surface area so it is always a a good idea to check the recommended sizing on a specific board model.
Riding Different Wakeboard LengthsShorter Wakeboards
If your'e looking to ride a shorter board, here's what to take into account. You will be riding a board with a smaller surface area, causing more drag and most likely speeding up the fatigue process due to lack of buoyancy causing more energy expenditure. The shorter board length can also lead to harder landings and if you land out of form can cause an easier edge grab and eyelid peeler. The benefits of a shorter board though come in its aerial capabilities as a shorter board will be easier to manoeuvre once out of the water making spins and inverts easier to engage.
The longer a wakeboard is will normally make it easier to ride and start out as a beginner. They will feel stable underfoot with greater surface area, help on deep water starts and help to get 'pop' off the wake for easier height. A longer wakeboard will also create better float on top of the water for added speed and allow for more control in your edges. The opposite to a shorter board, a longer board will become harder to control and initiate moves once out of the water, as more weight and board cause it to be harder to get inverted and twist.
Like most things in the waterski industry, wakeboards can be broken down into ability classes. This isn't the be all and end all as provided a wakeboard is in the right size bracket, anyone can realistically ride any wakeboard. It comes down to how easy that board will be to ride for a person dependant on their level in comparison to the level of the board. Once again this will not stop you from riding a certain wakeboard and some people tend to thrive in that trial by fire situation. But as a general rule of thumb there will always be ability levels as stated below:Beginner
These are for the guys who have never ridden before or ride only occasionally. You're beginning to cross the wake and start or start to jump and want to make life easy. Traditionally these boards will have mellower rockerlines on them, normally continuous or a mellower 3-stage. they also tend to be budget friendly to get you into the sport without costing you a fortune.
At this point you should be comfortably moving freealy about the water and clearing the wake on both toe and heel-side edges. At this point boards tend to expand and have more personality, so you should check in on what aspects of wakeboards work for you and your riding style below.
Alright, now you know where you're at. You've started to get a small trick base together, you're spinning, flipping out and trying to expand your trick bag. When it comes to these ranges of boards, you are going to be tailored styling of board. You get to choose if you want to be aggressive or have a smooth surfy ride, if you want something thats going to boost you the moon or have a smooth transition from wake to wake. To put it in simple terms, these boards are ridden and tailored to the pros, so no matter what you get it's high end
Continuous rockerline were the first rockerline designs around and tend to provide both the smoothest and fastest rides, allowing you to get into your edges and get those harder pressing carves on buttery water. The other advantage of a continuous rocker is its consistent and predictable 'pop' or height off the wake and allows for more carry across the wake and into the flats. Not only does this make it feel easier on the body on landing but can be a real confidence boster to the ego.
This rockerline is typically signified by itsvisually noticeable 3 panels in its design with a pivot point where the 2 ends kick up. The advantage behind this is to create a more abrupt and vertical pop at the point of contact with the wake to give you more height but less carry, these guys are all about height. The downfalls of a 3-stage rocker is its desire to plow through the water due to its abrupt kick and so will have a slower feel they will also have a slightly looser feel when boat speed is increased and have a slightly harder landing due to reduction in carry across the wake.
Wakeboard Core Constructions
The most common core that you will find in a boat wakeboard, a PU core balanced weight reduction with strength. The advantage of Polyurethane is that it will still allow for the stiffness required to give you the 'pop' or height off the wake you're chasing, but not breakdown over time or crumble over the wake like a wood core. In most cases these guys are borderline bulletproof and you will have to work to break them. Or ride A LOT.
Much like a slalom waterski a PVC core is used firstly to reduce weight and secondly due to its reactive nature. PVC is stiffer and 8 times more reactive than Polyurethane so it's not a common occurrence in a wakeboard. The advantages are in boards that are looking for a more aggressive ride that will grab and dart through edges and explode off the wake. In this cause you would expect an 3-stage rocker or aggressive continuous rocker and in most cases a sharp rail.
Wood core wakeboards generally are associated with cable boards, but do lend themselves to a handful of boat style boards, the reason for this is woods absorbent and flexible nature. A wood core board will allow to naturally flex over kickers, slider and any other obstacle you can think of and hold up to the abuse, they also absorb the impact on landings quite well, softening landings off obstacles or from the air.
Rolled moldings in your base that reduce the amount fo drag that water will produce on the board, allowing you to ride faster thanks to greater lift and upwards pressure on the board.
Have a double purpose acting as water disruptors to break up tension on the water, as well as providing a greater flow of water through the edge for control.
Centre spines are there to help pivot you into your edges and make transitions easy. They also double down to soften landings and tend to be a key feature of 3-stage model boards due to the nature of their vertical 'pop'
This is in 99% of cases the key feature of a cable model wakeboard, devoid of any shapes or fins on the base, it is reliant purely on the rocker and core construction of the board to help it react and ride. They also slide over obstacles easier hence the cable association.
These bases are designed pretty much with cable riding in mind, normally a tougher sintered style of base to hold up to the wear and tear off obstacles at the cable park.Sharp Rail
A sharper edged rail will react more aggressively and track harder into the wake. This style of rail tends to lean more towards fast acceleration that will drive through to the wake at top speed. The side effects of a sharper rail is that it the harder edge bite can also lead to easier edges being caught and giving you the eyelid peeler effect. When it comes to sharper rails, you want to be all about going big and getting the most out of your aerials, as they don't adapt well to surface tricks.Variable Edged Boards
A variable edged board will give you that sweet spot between a board that will edge with intent but have a more forgiving or 'softer' feel through the centre. With a sharper tip and tail that blends to a fuller rounder rail in the centre allows the board to release easier on butter and get out some soul turns and carves. The softer centre edge also allows for a more progressive cut into the wake with more control, so you can gradually build speed into the wake and generate vertical pop.
Fins will determine the amount of grip that you have on the water, some will be bigger for added grip or smaller for a loser ride. Some will also be molded or screw-in. Let's have a deeper look at the differencesWakeboard Fin Placement and Size
Fin placement is a big one, as you go from beginner through to advanced, you will notice less fins (from 6 or more to say 4). The more fins and the bigger fins, the more stable your ride is going to be and the harder it will be to get the board to release from the surface of the water. once you got to higher end boards, you will notice smaller fins and normally no centre fins, this allows for greater edge pressure and easier release off the wake and the surface of the water.
Removable vs Molded-In Wakeboard Fins
Alright, so this seems pretty self explanatory right? A removable fin is a screw in fins either on the outside edges of your board or in the centre, a molded-in fin is fibreglassed into the mold of the board. The difference in feel is a removable is much more customisable and can tend to be sharper and more responsive due to the way they square off against the board base. A molded fin will give a smoother feeling ride and tends to make moving into edges easier.
Like a car or a boat, wakeboards need maintenance, maybe not as much as those but still, if you want to get the longevity out of your board always do the following
- Keep your wakeboard out of the sun for long periods of time. UV rays beating down on your board is like backing in the sun without sunscreen.
- At the end of the day give your gear a hose down with fresh water.
- Check over Fins bolts and Binding Bolts regularly to reduce strain on the board and losing anything
- For maximum protection, make sure you have yourself a cover. A cover will do exactly what you think, protect from scuffs, bumps, scratches, friends who don't care because it's not theirs. You name it, a bag will help.
- Store your gear in a cool, dry location.