Wakesurf Buyer's Guide
If you are new to wake surfing or just looking to do some research before buying your next board, this guide will help answer questions for riders at all levels. We are going to discuss some basic principles like board shapes, and weight ranges in relation to board length. We will also dive into some more technical details such as rail shapes and what more or less rocker will do for the riders. Let’s get started!
1. Board Shapes: Surf style boards vs Skim style boards vs Hybird boards.
Surf Style Boards often look very similar to sized down ocean surf boards. In fact many of the shapes and construction materials come right out of the ocean surf world. Most surf style wakesurf boards have a thicker profile (more volume) and a slightly more rounded rail or bevel on the outsides of the board. Another key identifier of a surf style board is the larger profile fins, often a thruster (3 fin) or quad (4 fin) setup. The more aggressive fins on these boards create a tighter feeling ride, with a lot of responsiveness from side to side, especially when you transfer weight to your back foot overtop of the fins when you turn. The added volume of a surf style board is often friendly to larger riders because they float easier, riding higher in the water, and experience less drag while surfing. Who usually buys a surf style board? A lot of this comes down to rider preference. There are surf style boards for beginners all the way to pros. But generally, these boards are more user friendly than skim style boards. They offer more predictable edge control, lots of speed, and extra volume for heavier riders or smaller wakes.
(we want to display a 3 recommended surf style boards here that we will manually select)
Skim Style Boards are smaller in size and have less volume and buoyancy than surf style boards. They also have less rocker, channeling or shape to the bottom of the board, and a thinner profile with sharper rails. Skim boards are preferred by riders who like to have more feel with the board itself (and not just the boards fins). Riders can break free easier due to the low profile fins, which creates a loose feeling on the water, and easier spin tricks like 360’s.
Who usually buys a skim style board? Again this depends on rider preference. We do not usually recommend skim style boards to riders who are brand new to the sport, or bigger riders. They are harder for beginners to control due to the flat rocker, sharp rails, and low profile fins. And harder for bigger rides because the boards have less volume and therefore buoyancy. But you don’t need to be an expert to have fun on a skim board either. The loose, free riding feeling of a skim board is hard to compare with. For riders looking to learn spin tricks this is the shape for you.
(we want to display a 3 recommended skim style boards here that we will manually select)
Hybrid Boards are pretty much just what you imagine, a mix between surf and skim style boards. This category of board has been growing in popularity for the past few years. Hybrid boards offer riders a little more volume than a traditional skim style board, but still keep the maneuverability and playfulness of the skim board. The extra volume can also help bigger riders catch a wave a little farther back. Hybrids usually come with a 3 fin setup, with the two outside finds being larger thruster fins, and the center fin being a smaller profile like a true skim style board which allows versatility for the owner. If you ride the board with the thruster fins it will be more responsive from side to side and tighter feeling like a surf style board. If you ride it with just the low pro center fin it will feel looser and more playful like a skim style board. Who usually buys a hybrid board? Hybrids usually appeal to riders who like the idea of a looser feeling playful board but want a little extra volume, and the option of throwing in the thruster fins for a little more speed and responsiveness. Hybrids are also suitable for bigger riders who want a skim board with a little extra volume and drive. Some of our best selling boards are hybrids and we don’t see this trend going away anytime soon.
(we want to display a 3 recommended Hybrid boards here that we will manually select)
2. Board sizing: Who’s using the board, and what size will work for them?
Similar to wakeboards and skis, wakesurf sizing is mostly dependent on the rider's weight. The right length of board can vary a bit depending on what style of board you are looking at. Surf style boards are a little bit longer than skim style boards, and hybrids are usually in between. Another variable with wakesurfing is the size of your boat’s wake. Boats that throw a huge wake, and have a wakesurf system (tabs, and ballast) will allow a larger rider to size down their board a bit. Whereas direct drive inboards (ski boats) and jet drive boats throw smaller wakes and riders will have to size their board a bit bigger to get the same push or drive from the wave. Have a look at this sizing chart to help you determine your size:
General wakesurf board size chart. * Always remember to check the manufacturer size chart on the specific board you are buying.
|Rider Weight (Lbs)||Surf Style (ft, inch)||Skim Style (ft, inch)||Hybrid Style (ft, inch)|
|50 - 100||Up to 4’0”||Up to 4’0”||Up to 4’0”|
|100 - 170||4’3” - 4’8”||4’0” - 4’5”||4’0” - 4’8”|
|150 - 200||4’8” - 5’2”||4’4” - 4’10”||4’8” - 5’3”|
|185-250+||5’0” +||4’10” +||5’0” +|
3. Wakesurf Board Rocker & Rails: What difference do these features make?
Wakesurf rocker describes how flat or curved the profile of the board is when you view it directly from the side. If you are to sit the board flat on a table and view its side profile, a board with more rocker will have less of a flat spot in the center and curl up more at the nose of the board and even at the tail. Whereas a board with less rocker will sit almost flat to the table, with a slight curve upward at the nose and tail of the board.
Less rocker is usually found on skim style boards. This allows them to glide over the water with ease and creates a more slippery fee, the board is able to easily break loose of its direction and spin. The thinner profile and flatter rocker also creates a fast responding board that feels much smoother on the wave. The flatter rocker with sharper rails however is a bit less forgiving for beginner riders who have not yet learned proper weight placement and edge control.
More rocker is usually found on surf style boards. More rocker causes the board to plow a little bit more water, but it does react very quickly with the wave, making the board feel more responsive when it's put on edge. The increased rocker also allows the board to be ridden on a steeper angle on the wave without nose diving, so it can be more forgiving than a board with a flat rocker.
The boards’ rails is the term used to describe the edges of the wakesurf board. The shape of the rails affect how the board moves through the water and how it turns. Thinner and sharper rails bite into the wave more offering quicker turning and spins. Thinner sharper rails are quicker reacting, but less forgiving, and are often found on skim style boards. Thicker, more rounded rails are usually found on surf style boards. Round rails are a little less responsive, but more forgiving for riders who are starting out. However on performance surf style boards more aggressive fins can compensate for the boards rounded rails, and still create a fast reacting board that can pump, generate speed, and jump.
4. Wakesurfing Safety: What kind of boat can I surf behind, and what can I not surf behind?
This is very important to understand when you are starting out. Wake surfing is unique from wakeboarding and skiing because you can only wakesurf safely behind a few different styles of boats. You cannot wakesurf behind an outboard boat, or inboard-outboard with a traditional drive. This is a matter of safety, when you are wakesurfing you are anywhere from 5-20’ behind the boat. Smaller wakes will force the rider to surf as close as possible to the back of the boat to get any kind of drive from the wake. If you are doing this behind an outboard or inboard-outboard powered boat this can be extremely dangerous. We (and pretty much everyone in the industry) only recommend wake surfing behind a true inboard boat (MasterCraft, Natuique, Malibu etc) or jet powered boat (Yamaha Sportboat etc). Volvo Penta recently designed a “forward drive” inboard-outboard that some boats come with to allow for safe wakesurf towing, but at this point not many boats are fitted with this drive. If customers don’t know if their boat is safe for wakesurfing we advise they call their dealer for confirmation.