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How to size a wakeboard, would seem like a simple, straightforward question that is easily answered correct? No so fast there boarder, unless you’re looking for an eye opener faceplant.
If you’re taking a step back and asking yourself, “What size wakeboard should I be using?” then you’re getting off on the right track. It is extremely important to choose the right size board for you. Riding a wakeboard that is too big or too small will likely make your experience far more difficult and much less enjoyable.
There are a variety of wakeboard manufacturers in the market and each has different guidelines for determining the board that is the best size for you. Not to over simplify the process but as a general rule the heavier you are, the larger the board you will need.
The surface area of a wakeboard needs to be proportional to the amount of weight it needs to support on the water. With this said, there are more considerations you will need to factor into your decision to find a wakeboard that is suitable for you as an individual rider. The following information will provide you with some key considerations.
Every wakeboard is not created equal and thus are not suitable for every rider. It is important when choosing a board to find one that matches your abilities and skill level, affording you the best opportunity to be successful and enjoy your boarding experiences.
Beginner: We all want to start out looking like the pros, moving fast and agile through the water and pulling off various tricks. When you are just starting out a beginner board is appropriate and will best support your skill acquisition. These models are easier to balance on and control. Beginner boards are longer than average and have a wide nose.
Intermediate: Once you have acquired a skill level where you have the basics down and are looking to advance your abilities, an intermediate wakeboard will support your efforts. The intermediate board is quicker and more maneuverable than the larger beginner models. They are still easier to control than the more advanced models. When you find yourself looking for a more challenging ride and are skilled at being able to cross over waves you’re probably ready for the next step.
Advanced: These wakeboards are designed for the intent of being used by professionals or the highly-skilled boarders. The advanced board will only frustrate and make the challenge unmanageable for riders who are not functioning at the high-levels required to successfully maneuver these boards. The boards are very fast and agile but are far more difficult to control.
Length: The length of your board will be dependent on your weight. You should not ride a board that is too short for you, however you can ride one, especially if you are a beginner, that is longer. A general guide for choosing the length of your board is the following:
100 pounds and under
100 to 150 pounds
150 to 180 pounds
180 to 240 pounds
230 to 280 pounds
50 inches or less
50 to 53 inches
53 to 55 inches
55 to 57 inches
57 to 60 inches
- Fins: Wakeboards come both with and without fins. Boards with fins ensure that it travels in the direction the board is facing. The fins provide more control and help to prevent spinning out of control. The downside is the fins will restrict your ability to get liftoff and perform tricks. Advanced boarders will use fins in rougher water but typically the fins are placed in close proximity to provide stability, while still allowing tricks to be performed.
- Rocker: The rocker refers to the shape on the bottom of the board. The profile on the bottom of the board affects the way the board moves and how high it can raise the rider out of the water. There are various types of rockers:
- Continuous: A smooth, gradual curve and the most common style of wakeboard. The ride is smooth, fast and allows you to carve out the water. Height of jumps is limited.
- Three-stage: A flat bottom that rises at an approximate angle of 30 to 45 degrees. The flat bottom creates resistance, so you move slower but are able to get more height on jumps.
- Hybrid: Is as the name suggests, falling somewhere between the continuous and three-stage models. Angles are smoother, decreasing resistance and increasing speed but restricting how much height you can get on jumps.
- Edges: The edges on your wakeboard will determine how you track through the water and how fast you are able to go. There are two general types of edges:
- Sharp: Provide increased speed and maneuverability and typically used by advanced riders. The sharp edge is less forgiving and requires high-level skills.
- Rounded: Slows the board and are less maneuverable. Much easier to maintain your balance and are best suited for intermediate and beginners.
Most individuals who take up wakeboarding are likely proficient in other water sports like surfing, boogie boarding, waterskiing or possibly are skateboarders. Wakeboards come in two models:
- Single-tip Boards: These boards have a tapered front and are squared on the rear of the board. This type of board can only be ridden in a single direction, with the tapered tip facing forward.
- Twin-tip Boards: This type of board is rounded at both ends, making it easier for the rider to land tricks and change direction.
Ultimately you are looking for material that is lighter, allowing you to perform jumps and tricks, and strong enough to ensure your board can withstand the pounding it will take. Wakeboards are made primarily of a combination of a foam core, fiberglass, resins and different plastics in their construction.
Foam boards provide the best performance in rougher conditions, due to their flexibility and the fact that they ride lower in the water, making them more stable. Honeycomb fiber boards are lighter and faster, which support getting more height on jumps. Honeycomb boards are more rigid and thus more difficult to control.
The decision on which materials your board is constructed from will depend on the style of boarding you plan to do.
Additional Factors to Consider
- Your skill level will impact the size wakeboard that is best suited for you.
- Personal preference will guide individuals to the shorter end or the longer end of the board size scale.
- Shorter boards are generally slower in the water; harder to work; and are easier to spin, jump and land.
- Longer boards are the opposite: generally quicker; larger surface area, so easier to learn on; heavier and thus hard to perform tricks; and are harder to land.
- How often you will be wakeboarding, your background and experience (other board sports), and your skills and abilities should direct your wakeboard decision.
- Although some will debate it, most wakeboarders feel height is not a factor to consider in choosing a board.
- Your skill level, riding style, and board model will be primary considerations, especially if you are an advanced rider.
- DO NOT choose a board that is beyond your skill level. You will have difficulty getting up and staying on the board.
- You will need to consider a variety of factors such as: the kind of water you’ll be riding on; do you want to do jumps and tricks; your budget; who will be riding the board; etc.
So hopefully it’s clear that your weight will be a primary factor in choosing the right size wakeboard for you. However, your weight alone should not be the only consideration you factor into making a final decision. How you intend to use the board, under what conditions and who will be using the board are a few of the additional considerations that should guide you.
Hopefully you will find this information of value in assisting you in making your decision. Consult your local board experts and ask to try out 2 or 3 boards that are within your size range before purchasing your board. Let us know in the comments section how your search goes.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.