Your level of riding and the type of riding you do make a difference in what type of wakeboard you should buy. Boards for the park are a bit different than boards for riding behind the boat. There are several things to keep in mind when you are looking to purchase a wakeboard. Let’s start with a primer on the vocabulary of wakeboards.
Flex – Flex is important for the style of riding you do, but is also a matter of personal preference. If you are popping off the wake of a boat, you may want a stiffer flex pattern to get more height. Softer flex allows you to absorb the flat landings of riding in the park and allows you to press the nose and tail on the rails.
Rocker – This is the curve of the board. There are two major types of wakeboard rocker: continuous and three-stage. A board with continuous rocker has one smooth, fluid, curved shape that translates into fast, smooth rides and gentle, carving turns. Three-stage rocker boards have three different planes on the bottom of the board, allowing for more height when you hit the wake.
Edges – Sharper edges provide improved acceleration and overall speed, but are less forgiving than rounded edges. If you like tricks, look for rounder or variable edges. If you like an aggressive, hard carving ride, get sharper edges.
Fins – Fins can be molded directly into the base, bolted on or a combo. Some boards have channels or concave or convex areas that help direct the flow of water across the base of the board for traction and stability. Fewer features and smaller fins are better in the park, and give riders a looser feel on the water. Larger fins and bases with multiple features have a more locked-in feel, but can make tricks more difficult to execute. Beginners often benefit from longer, deeper fins.
Now that you have the terminology down, think about what sort of riding you are going to do. Are you riding behind a boat on the lake, or will you be in the park? Here in New England, most riders are looking for boat boards, since our park opportunities are pretty limited, but if you live in other parts of the country or the world you may be doing more park riding, or a bit of both. Here is what to look for in whatever type of board you may need.
Boat boards have stiffer flex patterns, giving them more energy as you ride up the transition of the wake and boost off the lip. They typically have a more heavy-duty construction to put up with the wear and tear of landing in the flats. They have features on the base to help with edging in the wake and to soften landings, and come with a variety of fins.
Wake Park Boards have softer flex patterns and a more relaxed feel on the water. They better absorb flat landings off the kickers and allow you to press the nose or tail of the board on rails. They usually have featureless bases and removable fins (or no fins) to make it less likely you will get hung up while sliding on rails and boxes. You will, however, sacrifice traction on the water. They come with more durable bases and reinforced sidewalls to withstand the abuse of everyday park riding.
Hybrid Boards – if you don’t have the budget for two different specific boards for boat and park riding, a hybrid board is the perfect option. Many feature softer flex through the tip and tail, but are stiffer between the bindings, still allowing for good pop off the wake. They have durable simple base designs with removable fins, which provide good traction into the wake and still slide well.
Once you have a sense of the type of board that you want, you are also going to want to make sure you have the right size wakeboard. See our blog post “What Size Wakeboard Do I Need?” (coming soon) to get more info on the size options out there. At Sun Sports+, we can give you expert advice on just what type of wakeboard will be best for you. Stop in and let us help you find the perfect wakeboard!