Wakeboard Buyer's Guide
Published: July 22, 2007
Buying your first wakeboard can be a daunting task. There are so many choices to make; and so many terms to learn. It is tough to cut through the marketing-speak and get to the cold hard facts. Luckily, we've been in your shoes and we're here to help you. In this guide, we will walk you through the variety of boards that are now on the market and help you avoid some costly mistakes. After you've decided on your board, check out our wakeboard bindings buyer's guide to help you pick out some bindings to go along with your board.
Unfortunately, good wakeboards don't come cheap. If you are running tight on cash, you will probably want to look into buying a used setup. On the bright side, though, if you choose the right board and bindings, they can last you for years to come.
There are several things that should be considered in your wakeboard buying decision. We will aim to cover most of them here.
Getting the right size board for you is very important. The heavier the rider, the longer the board should be. Board sizes are usually measured in centimeters. If your board is too big for you, you may have trouble controlling it and it may hold you down when you start jumping. Using a board that is too small for you will cause you to sink into the water due to the lack of surface area. Waterskiworld has a sizing chart that you can use as a reference. But keep in mind that this is not ironclad. It will vary from board to board.
The width of a wakeboard determines two things: how easily it pops off the wake and how quickly it turns. Narrow ends will make the board turn more quickly in the water but will not release off of the wake as easily. A wide center portion of the board will give you more pop off of the wake but wakes away some of your edging capabilities. For a larger wake, I would choose a wider board because you won't need as much speed to get a lot of air and your landings will be much softer due to the extra surface area. For a smaller wake, I would choose a narrower board.
Heavier boards will tend to hold you down more. Manufacturers are always trying to find ways to make their boards lighter and as the materials engineering behind the sport continues to improve, lighter boards are made possible. The trade off is that these new materials are more expensive to produce.
The rocker is the composition of the bottom of the board. There are two types of rocker, the 3-stage rocker and the continuous rocker. A three stage rocker is angular. There are three sections of the board that meet each other at angles. This is good for getting explosive pop off of the wake and directs your momentum more upwards into the air. But the landings on a 3 stage board are rougher. A board with a continuous rocker is arched rather than angled. This directs your momentum outward rather than upward and helps you go farther into the flats on big jumps. It also helps to cushion your landings.
The number and size of the fins on the bottom of the board will effect how hard it edges and how "loose" it is in the water. There are two types of fins, those that are screwed in and those that are molded in. They work the same way. The more fin surface-area you have on your board, the more responsive it will be to your edging and the tighter it will be. If you have small fins, your board will be more loose, allowing you to spin on top of the water; making you rely on your edge to turn. Some pro riders use boards with fins, others don't. It depends on your style. Beginning riders will probably want the added stability that large fins provide.
Obviously, the graphics of a board are something to consider. It doesn't effect your riding directly, but who wants to ride a hideous board? It's all a matter of personal preference here.
No one's made of money, so you need to think about how much you want to invest in your wakeboard. If it's your first board, it may be wise to buy a cheaper introductory level board to learn the ropes and then upgrade in a year or two once you've learned what you like. Browse around the Internet for deals, in the off-season, vendors will be looking to clear out last-year's inventory to make room for the new stuff coming in. Manufacturers will also sell "blem" (blemished) boards for a discount and they will oftentimes only have minor cosmetic problems. You can also look around for some deals on used boards.
Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty, others a time-limited one. Decide if this is something that's important to you and then look into what the various manufacturers offer. I have always had good luck with Hyperlite. Keep in mind that most manufacturers won't cover a board under warranty if it has been used to hit kickers and sliders (rails).
A lot of your choice comes down to your riding style. If you look at the pro wakeboarders, they are all using different boards with different features suited to their particular style of riding.
If you have a wakeboard shop in your area, you should stop by there before you make a decision. Many board shops will even let you test out the boards that you are considering to see which one you like best. And their experts will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Once you've decided on a board, you have two main options for purchase. Your local boardshop or a website. If at all possible, buy locally. It helps to support your local wakeboard scene.
If you liked this guide and enjoyed the rest of the articles on the site, you can support us by buying your gear through our links to BoardStop. They sponsor wake-boarding.org by giving us commission on sales we bring to them.
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