Choosing a Wakesurf Board
Whether you are just getting into wakesurfing or have been at it for awhile, it is always helpful to refer to product guides in order to make an informed decision.
Wakesurfing is a sport where the rider surfs the boat wake, with a rope to begin with but eventually a seasoned rider is able to stay in the sweet spot of the wave without holding onto a surf rope. Wakesurfing is ideal for small lakes, high-traffic lakes, windy days or for the plain fun of the ride… and the wipeouts!
When choosing a wakesurf board, these things need to be taken into consideration:
Wakesurfers come in a wide variety of shapes to accommodate different skill levels and riding styles. Wakesurf boards are measured in feet and inches, like surfboards. Here are some guidelines for choosing the length of your wakesurf board.
- Larger Wakesurfers: The longer and bigger the wakesurf board, the more surface area and float—ideal for heavier riders. The larger wakesurf boards move more slowly through the water and are easier for beginners to learn on. Also, if you are riding behind a boat that throws a smaller wake, choose a bigger board.
- Smaller Wakesurfers: The smaller the wakesurf board the faster on the wave—ultimately more maneuverable and spry. The smaller wakesurf boards are ideal for skilled, seasoned riders and lightweight riders. If your boat throws a big wake, you’ll love riding a smaller wakesurfer.
Wakesurf board shapes generally are categorized as thruster style surf shapes, skim board style shapes, or hybrid—which combines the surf and skim.
Surf style wakesurf boards are usually the largest in size and total volume, with a directional shape and fish or square tail (but not always), helping them stay agile, fast and on the surface. These boards come in a wide variety of materials, lengths and configurations. Surf style boards frequently offer a variety of fin options, helping riders generate power and speed to pump the wave. (Examples below.)
Skim boards are a little wider, shorter and thinner than surf style boards—with less buoyancy, but more oriented to tricks like spinning and shove-it maneuvers. Since skim style boards typically have smaller fins (under 2.5″) and fewer bottom features, the board is more slippery and rowdy on the water. Also, skim style boards are frequently compression molded. (Examples below.)
A Hybrid wakesurf board is a mix between surf and skim styles. There are a huge variety of hybrid shapes, but skim style shapes equipped with surf fins and surf style shapes with smaller skim fins fall into this category, too. The goal of these boards is to combine the playfulness of a skim board with the power of a surf board. (Examples below.)
Wakesurf board thickness can range from .7 inches to nearly 2 inches. The variation in board thickness brings variation in water stability, with each thickness bringing a unique approach and ride.
THICK: The thickest wakesurf boards ride higher on the water and with more forward momentum than any other surfer. Because it surfs so high on the water and has so much top water speed, a thick board will give you a wild ride. (Example #1: Koal Technora Lunatic)
MEDIUM THICK: A medium-thick board still has a fast push feeling but with a thinner tip for more feel and stability in and out of a turn. (Example #2: Koal Technora Powertail+)
STANDARD: The standard thickness will give you the classic feel of a traditional wakesurf ride. It has a feel for the water, while giving topwater speed with some kick. (Example #3: Koal Classic Longboard)
THIN: On a thin board, you’ll sacrifice some top water momentum for a board with the closest connection to the water. This allows the rider to surf more like they are on a wakeskate, either using a shallow fin, or no fin at all because the board has so much natural grip with the water and is sitting that much deeper in the water. (Example #4: Hex Shell Skate Skimmer)
A wakesurf board’s rocker is the curvature of the bottom of the board. (Put the board on the ground and see how much it rocks.) The rocker determines how much surface area is in contact with the water.
- Less Rocker: A board with less rocker maintains more contact with the water and makes it easier for riders to generate and sustain speed. *Best suited to smaller waves.
- More Rocker: A board with more rocker has less contact with the water and rides slower, but makes it easier to perform tight turns. *Best suited to large, steep waves.
The rails on a wakesurf board impacts how water flows past the board, determining how it handles or rides in and out of turns. A thinner rail generates more speed and is less forgiving and a thicker (more rounded) rail is slower, more stable and more forgiving.
- Hard Rail: The hard rail is thinner and is perfect if you are looking for the ultimate in responsiveness and performance.
- Full Rail: The full rail is thicker and softer for that stable, smooth ride.
- Blended Rail: The blended rail gives you the stable, smooth ride with just a bit of bite into the wave for an exciting turn. Great universal option suited for beginners to advanced riders.
- The Boat: The boat must have an inboard engine to safely wakesurf behind it. Outboard engines expose the surfer to the prop.
- Boat Speed: For most boats, 10mph is a good wakesurfing speed.
- Get a Good Wake for Wakesurfing: Ballast (weight) is the key to creating a good wake for wakesurfing. For the best experience, add the ballast to one side of the boat. You can also use a wake shaper.