Choosing Your Wakeboard: Our guide to boat boards
These boards are designed to be use solely on water, using the wake in order to do jumps. Ultimately size should be your primary consideration and while there is an element of personal preference we would recommend the following as a rough guide.
130cm - 30-60kg
135cm - 45-75kg
139cm - 60-95kg
144cm - 80-110kg+
Factoring a little personal preference into this is absolutely fine and it is important to understand the theoretical pros and cons of differing board lengths. As a general rule the shorter board will feel a little lighter and more manoeuvrable under foot. However, the smaller surface area means the board requires more power to get on the plane, as well as sinking more quickly when you have slack in the rope. In contrast, when using a longer board you will find less pressure on the arms, a more forgiving feel and softer landings. Like what you hear? We think so and recommend stepping up in length if between sizes. After selecting size the rocker profile and amount should be your next thought. While it oversimplifies to some extent it is best to think of wakeboards as falling into three rocker styles, called continuous, three-stage and hybrid as outlined below.
Continuous rocker boards have a smooth curve from tip to tail, with the centre between the bindings touching the floor when on land while the tips remain raised. The benefits of continuous rocker models is their consistency of feel, being extremely confidence inspiring as the board will do exactly what you expect. This relates to smooth carving turns as well as hitting wake to wake jumps. Referring to the latter, when these boards take off the water their trajectory exactly follows the wake angle. You might find it useful to think of this as being akin to a skateboarders leaving a ramp. As a rider it is nice to know exactly what will happen when you hit the wake, enabling you to concentrate on more important things such as clearing the wake or developing your latest trick. If you require more height and air time in the jump you will need to cut into the wake with more speed, which will also result in jumping further. As a result, we tend to see continuous rocker boards as being best suited to beginner and intermediate riders where a forgiving feel and predictability are derivable characteristics.
Three-stage rocker boards are very different to continuous rocker models in both design and performance. Rather than a smooth curve from tip to tail these boards have a flat section between the bindings, then seeing an aggressive kick to tip and tail. Viewed side on there is a defined rocker break. As a result the board has more drag and is a little more tiring on the rider. So, with the negatives out of the way what are the potential positives of three-stage rocker boards? Put simply……. Jump height! The flat section between the bindings on this style of boards improves the compression and energy transfer when you hit the wake, leading to improved lift and overall jump height compared with continuous rocker alternatives. This gives you more air time so as to develop your latest trick. In addition, by flying higher but not further you are still able to land on the down ramp of the wake, giving a softer impact that is easier on the body. However, to get the most from three stage rocker boards you require good consistent technique and thus they are not suited to beginner and early intermediate riders. You should have a solid wake to wake jump prior to moving onto this style of board. Not all three stage boards are born equal and some are more aggressive than others. As such, if you are in doubt whether you are ready to make the transition from continuous rocker then why not consider a softer three stage rocker, or hybrid board below.
As the name suggests the hybrid board aims to marry the positives of both continuous and three stage models. In doing so you should have improved jump height but without the need for absolutely perfect technique to extract the best from these boards. They will also be more predictable, a trait I think we all like! Again, not all hybrid rocker boards are the same and you will see models that are closer to each end of the spectrum, enabling you to make the choice that is right for you. If in doubt why not get in touch, we are here to help!
In addition to the style of rocker it can be useful to appreciate the difference the amount of rocker can have on performance. By this we mean by how much the tip and tail are raised off the floor when placed on a flat surface. More rocker will make a board slower over the water surface but softer on landing as the board can more efficiently disperse the water and impact on your body. You might think that a board being slower is always a bad thing as it increases strain on your arms. However, there are positives in the the board will sit down more quickly on landing, ensuring you will not end up with slack in the line. Once you have considered board size, rocker style and height it is time to look at base channeling and fins.
BASE CHANNELING / FINS
Base channelling and fin configuration is one aspect of board design that is too often overlooked. These design features are critical to performance and affect the boards grip on the water surface. Grip is generally a positive trait in offering confidence when edging the board. For an instance when a rider cuts in to jump the wake it would be disconcerting if you were worried whether the board would hold the edge. This is why we don’t see boards for boat riding with no fins or base channels. The former are a very traditional technology and relatively inexpensive to produce. In contrast the channels built into the base of a board require the foam or wood core to be CNC machined, a costly process. By adding more base detailing you are then able to rescue the fin size. This is fantastic in giving you a great balance of grip when required but also the looseness to easy switch the board. Whatever board you choose don’t be afraid to test different depths to suit your preference. You will also note that while most boards have four fins, two at each end, there are several models using a size fin configuration. This will see the four outer fins being moulded and two centres capable of being removed. While this is now seen as a slightly older design concept it does offer the inherent versatility in that you can remove the centres fins to produce a looser feel. It is not to say a more experienced rider would remove these and a beginner leave them in place. It is simply a matter of personal preference and even the water conditions may come into play in your decision.
*classic four fin configuration
*classic six fin configuration
Generally speaking the construction of a wakeboard built for use behind a boat aims to be very stiff. In doing so the board is extremely reactive to rider input. It also ensures that the maximum lift is produced when jumping the wake as we would not wish to lose air time through board flex. The core of the board will generally be foam, which is then wrapped in fibreglass and or carbon. Being an exotic and expensive material carbon will only be used in mid range boards upwards. We may also see specific features such as carbon buttons introduced to further aid rigidity and pop. Most boards use a gloss base which is in no way reinforced so as to maintain top water speed and keep weight to a minimum. However, certain boat venues do have obstacles and thus boards require impact protection more akin to models designed for cable use. These will then see an impact base and toughened rails.
We hope this information has been useful and allows you to apply core design principles when choosing your next board. We love to discuss customer requirements and offer advice tailored to your exact scenario so why not get in touch.