The Board Basement Guide to Wakeboarding and buying the right wakeboarding gear
Despite starting in 1985 wakeboarding is still considered a new sport, and having been labelled one of the fasted growing board sports year on year, there is still a lot of people who have no idea what to look for when buying a board. There are many factors that you need to consider when purchasing a wakeboard, be it your first or your 100th. Things to consider are: Board length, Ability, Riding Style, Edges, Fins, and Weight, in this blog we hope to be able to break down the terminology to help give you the tools to be able to purchase the right board which turn will improve your wake experience.
There are two factors you need to consider when choosing a board length, that is your weight and your riding style. Every wakeboard on the market be it men’s or women’s will has a specific sizing guideline for the intended rider based on their weight. If there is a variety of people using one board from the back of boat, then it will be wise to make your selection based on the weight of the rider who rides the most or the heaviest rider. There are pros and cons of tweeking the length of your board
- Easier to Spin and maneuver in the air
- Helps you develop style once you have the basics through
- Slower on the water as they take more energy to push through the surface.
- Landings are harder due to the lack of surface area
- The reduced length may cause the nose of the wakeboard to dig in
- Typically, easier to ride and learn on.
- Solid Feel that helps boost of the wake.
- More rail equals more control
- Larger surface area results in moving quickly on the water
- Longer Wakeboards are easier to land due to the extra float and surface area.
- Longer means heavier so harder to work in the air
- Wider stance width may be uncomfortable to ride
Like most sporting equipment there is a range products that will lend itself to beginners and there are products that are loaded with all the good technology for the demanding advance user, and wakeboarding is no exception to this. However, don’t be put off by the labelling, the truth is any rider can ride any board as along as it is the right size. Picking a wakeboard is all about who you are and personal preference, so don’t forget to have fun, so allow yourself to be swayed by a great graphic.
Never ridden before? Or just ride occasionally, then this is where you should be looking, beginner to Intermediate wakeboards will have continuous or mellow 3-stage rockers making the board nice and forgiving, they also tend to be priced for recreational riders.
If you have been riding behind a boat or cable and your beginning to clear the wake in both directions and trying some of the sliders, then take a look at intermediate-advanced wakeboards. There is a lot of choice in this category, so it is wise to know your strengths and weaknesses, and what you want to get better at to help you make an informed decision.
You probably know what you’re doing by now! If your happy to spin and attempt new tricks, stomping inverts or wakeboarding with a beer in hand then you need to be looking in the Advanced - Expert section. These wakeboards have a more aggressive continuous or 3-stage rockers and are less forgiving when you make a mistake. In this section you will get Pro-models board but remember, generally these boards are aggressive.
WAKEBOARD ROCKER AND RIDING STYLE
Without complicating things too much, there are three main rocker styles; continuous rocker, 3-stage rockers and hybrid rocker. Depending on your style and ability choosing a rocker can really help increase your riding experience.
This has one smooth fluid, curved shape. Wakeboards that have a continuous rocker provide fast and predictable ride whilst still offering a smooth ride. You can create a lot of speed and consistent pop on a continuous rocker wakeboard resulting. A continuous rocker wakeboard is great for carving, especially in those flat conditions.
3-stage rocker wakeboard consist of three distinct planes on the bottom of the board. A 3-stage rocker allows your wakeboard to reply with more pop (height) when you hit the wake. Nevertheless, more rocker is not always healthier, with a more dramatic rocker a wakeboard has a looser or slippery feel on the water surface. It is worth noting that the fins become less effective and you must trust more on edging the wakeboard. Boards with 3-stage rocker have a flat spot which makes the impact of landings more concentrated and gives a lethargic feel after landing.
Hybrid Rockers are all names given to board profiles existing somewhere between a continuous and 3-Stage Rocker, Ideal if you’re unsure about making a selection.
The more pronounced the edge or rail, the more positively the wakeboard will hold, resulting in improved acceleration and overall speed. The negative of a sharp edge is that it is easier to catch an edge, resulting faces rotating in to the water with force. Riders who enjoy surface tricks or riding sliders are advised to look for wakeboards with rounder, variable or no edges to give a buttery feel. Riders who like an aggressive, hard carving ride will feel at home on a sharper rail.
Fins are like claws that grip the water differently depending on the number, size and placement on the wakeboard. Deeper or longer fins create a more stable ride and reduce your ability to break the board free for surface tricks. Beginning riders often benefit from longer, deeper fins when they start riding. As you advance you may want to break the board loose with less effort by removing fins or selecting a board with less traction. Removable fins can be unscrewed and removed from the wakeboard while molded-in fins are glassed into the wakeboard and do not come off. Molded in fins are more durable on sliders. Removable fins give you more options to change the feel of your ride.
Simple science, the lighter the wakeboard, the more free and compliant the ride will be. Without the extra weight, a lightweight board makes for super smooth riding and easy manoeuvring. Wake manufacturers are continuously developing new materials and technology to make lighter wakeboards. Buying your own board will improve your riding rather than using that rental foam blob.
WAKEBOARD BASE SHAPES & MATERIALS
Concaves Concaves are fundamentally indentations on the bottom of your wakeboard that create lift and act as friction-reducing accelerators, so the board will sit higher in the water and cruise like a catamaran. Channels Channels on a wakeboard behave like an edge or fin, just a lot longer. These channels on the bottom of the wakeboard, break surface tension before the rest of the wakeboard hits. Think swan dive vs. belly-flop. Grind Base Grind bases were developed in response to the increasing popularity of rail riding. This style of riding requires a tough base with exceptional durability to withstand the wear and tear from sliding over PVC, metal or docks.