Wakesurf Board Buyer's Guide: What You Need to Know to Choose the Right Board
Looking to buy a new wakesurf board? Overwhelmed by all the choices? Need help? You've come to the right place!
Table of Contents
- Surfboard Styles
- Surfboard Sizing
- Wakesurf Board Fin Options
- Surfboard Tail Shapes
- Wakesurf Board Rail Design
- Kids Wakesurf Boards
- Wakesurf Ropes & Handles
- Wake Surfboard Bags
The WakeMAKERS Wakesurf Board Buyer's Guide is the most comprehensive document on everything wakesurf boards. In this buyer's guide, we will cover everything you as the consumer needs to know to find the best wakesurf board for your riding. After all, finding the right board for you is imperative to making the most of those lake days.
- There are three styles of wakesurf boards: surf, skim, and hybrid. Choosing the right one depends on the rider's skill level and preference for tricks vs. stability.
- Fin setups play a significant role in the board's overall ride and feel, and experimenting with fins can help you dial in a better wakesurfing experience.
- Tail shape also affects the board's feel. Different tail shapes can improve the board's performance in specific wave conditions (i.e., the wave your boat makes). The most common tail shapes are bigger, wider tails designed to catch the wave easier and give more push.
Board Style: Skim, Surf, or Hybrid?
There are three different styles of wakesurf boards: surf, skim, and hybrid. Deciding which style you want is the first step in finding your first or next wakesurf board. We'll discuss each board style and help you find out which is best suited for you.
Surf style is the most popular option when it comes to wakesurf board style. Most of the surf style boards closely resemble the boards you would see at the beach but are shrunken down and specially designed to surf a boat's wake. A surf style board is the most user-friendly as they are stable, catch the wave easier, and generate speed quicker. We recommend that most beginner wakesurfers get a surf style board as they are the easiest to learn on. Advanced riders enjoy surf style boards thanks to their quickness and high-speed maneuverability, ideal for big turns, slashes, and airs. Although not designed for doing all the tricks that are possible on a skim style board, surf-style boards are more than capable of doing 360's.
The most playful of the three board styles, skim style boards are preferred among those looking to do skateboard style tricks behind the boat. A skim style board is typically smaller in size than a surf style board and has smaller fins, creating a more slippery feel on the water that is ideal for spins, airs, and skateboard-inspired tricks behind the boat. Ideal for wakesurfers that are comfortable riding, skim style boards are best suited for intermediate-advanced wakesurfers.
The name says it all… a hybrid shape is a blend between surf and skim style. The goal is simply to offer the best of both worlds, the pure surfy feel of a surf style board combined with the playfulness of a skim style board. Hybrid boards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. A great option for wakesurfers not sure what they need and want a little bit of everything.
Wakesurf Board Size Guide
How to choose the right size wakesurf board is the most common question we hear, especially when someone is just starting out. Brands provide wakesurf board size charts as a guide based on how the board was designed and constructed. Once you've chosen your board, review the size chart and factor in your body weight, skill level, wave size, and personal preferences.
Rider weight: As a general rule of thumb, heavier riders require larger boards to provide enough buoyancy and stability, while lighter riders can opt for smaller boards for easier maneuverability.
Skill level: Beginners are often advised to choose larger boards as they are more stable and easier to balance on. On the other hand, experienced riders that have a feel for the pocket may choose a smaller board size so they have more maneuverability for performing tricks.
Wave size: The boat's wave size is also an important factor to consider when choosing the right size wakesurf board. If you're surfing behind an older inboard boat with a single ballast bag, you'll likely have a smaller wave compared to a newer wakeboat or one that has upgraded the ballast system. The larger the wave your boat creates, the smaller the board needed for surfing.
Wakesurf Board Fin Setup
Often overlooked but never forgotten, the fin setup plays a significant role in the overall ride and feel of the board. In recent years brands have been placing a larger emphasis on wakesurf fins and it is paying major dividends in the overall ride and feel of the board. From high-performance carbon fins to new tool-less fin systems, many of the boards are equipped with the most advanced fins on the market, further improving the wakesurfing experience.
Once you've decided what style of wakesurf board you want, one of the next steps is finding out the right fin setup for your riding. There are many factors that play into this such as riding style, ability level, and wave size. Continue reading to learn about each of the fin setups, what board styles they are most common on, and how they feel on the water.
This fin setup is most common on skim style boards but can also be seen on some cruiser/longboard surf style boards. Acting very much like a rudder for the board, the single fin offers stability, hold, and control but can break free easily for spins and slides. Best suited for medium-large sized waves.
Best described as a fun, playful ride with enough hold for surfy turns while still being easy to spin 360's. Some surf/hybrid style boards come stock with only two fins but most boards will have three fin boxes. Take out the center tail fin and ride the board as a twin fin. A great performer in waves of all sizes.
The most popular fin setup for good reason. Most surf style wakesurf boards will come standard with three fins called a "thruster" fin setup. The outside fins help generate speed down the line while the center fin offers stability and control. A versatile setup, the fins can be removed to ride it as a single or twin fin as well. This setup excels waves of all shapes and sizes.
The quad fin setup is only found on surf style boards. It is all about speed and power, allowing the wakesurfer to relax a little when pumping and trying generate speed, as all these fins work as little water jets to drive the board down the line. You can of course, take out two of the four fins to ride it as a twin fin too. Rides great on waves of all sizes.
Not as commonly used due the cost increase of the additional fin boxes; the five fin setup is all about options. Only found on surf style boards, this fin configuration gives you the versatility to ride your board with any of the above configurations for maximum flexibility. We don’t recommend riding with all five fins as it will cause significant drag and slow the board. Rides great on waves of all sizes.
Wakesurf Board Tail Shape
The tail shape on your wakesurf board isn't all about looks. Since the early days of surfing, riders everywhere have created different tail shapes to improve the feel of their board based on wave conditions. For your sanity we won't dive deep into the hydrodynamics of tail shapes and their impact on the board's feel on the water.
The most common tail shape on surfboards is a bigger, wider tail designed to catch the wave easier and give more "push" for dropping the rope and surfing the wave. The extra "push" from a square or big, rounded tail typically makes for quicker acceleration and increased overall speed. A fantastic option for those that don't have a huge wave behind their boat.
A smaller, more rounded tail shape will be more responsive turning and have a looser, more playful feel on the water. Round tail shapes are found on all styles of wakesurf boards but the skim style boards will have a much smaller, more pointed tail shape that is ideal for spins and tricks. The round tail shapes are great for medium-large sized waves as they don't have the same "push" as a big, square tail shape.
A fish or swallow tail design has been very popular in surfing for decades now and we are starting to see more wakesurf boards with this tail shape. The wider tail gives it a good amount of push while having impressive responsiveness in its controlled turns. A great option for smaller, mushier waves that don't have lots of push.
Wakesurf Board Rail Design
On a wakesurf board it is the rail that affects how water flows past the board and ultimately determines how it rides in and out of turns. A thinner, sharper rail will generate more speed and responsiveness while a thicker, more round rail gives a board a more stable, consistent feel. Learn below how each rides and which one is the best fit for you.
The full rail is found on most surf style boards. Very user-friendly for riders of all ability levels thanks to its stability and consistency throughout turns. The softer, fuller rail holds onto the wave better, making it easy to stay in the wave's "sweet spot" and sustain speed.
The hard rail is found on most skim style boards. The harder edge cuts through the water easier for increased board speed and breaks free much easier for spins. Doesn't have the same hold as a softer, full rail so it feels loose and slippery while on the wave.
A blended rail is somewhere between a full rail and a hard rail design. Found on many of the hybrid style boards. A good universal option that is stable and user-friendly but playful enough to spin the board for 360's.
Kids Wakesurf Boards
If you have little ones and want to create a life-long love of wakesurfing, we highly recommend investing in a kids-specific wakesurf board. You wouldn't teach your little one to ride a bike on one that is sized for you, right? The same goes for wakesurfing. The biggest challenge for children when it comes to wakesurfing is often the ability to control the board in the water. A full-sized board can make it hard for kids to get up on the board and maintain control once they are riding. Frustration abounds and your visions of a great lake day are replaced with frowns and complaints - that's not good for anyone! However, if they use a wakesurf board specifically designed for children, they will be able to handle the board with ease, instead of being overpowered by it.
Finding the right board for the child, depends on their skill level, balance, coordination, and overall fitness. Just like with adults, typically you'll start a beginner kiddo on a surf style board that provides a little more stability and forgiveness for learning. As your little grom progresses and wants to show off those skills, look for a skimmer that gives you some options for fin setup. Keep in mind that investing in a high-quality kids wakesurf board can ensure that it lasts for many seasons and can be passed down to younger siblings or friends, providing a great value for the cost. With so many options available, we wrote a kids-specific wakesurf board buying guide so that finding the perfect board for your child is a fun and exciting experience that provides memories that will last a lifetime.
Must-Have Wakesurf Accessories
Congratulations! You've learned all the basics needed to make an informed purchase on your first or next wakesurf board. Once you have decided on that perfect new board for yourself, it is time to get all the other important essentials you need for a proper wakesurfing experience.
Wakesurf Ropes & Handles
A wakesurf specific rope and handle is a must-have for safety reasons. The wakesurf ropes are typically around 25 feet in length, perfect for getting you in the sweet spot of the wave. The handles are smaller as both hands aren't needed at wakesurf speeds and it helps prevent a rider's arms, legs, or neck from getting caught inside the rope.
Since the goal is to drop the rope and surf the wave without it, you don't need anything special. The main factors to consider when choosing a wakesurf rope & handle are the length, handle type, and of course the color.
Wakesurf Board Bags & Sleeves
It's no secret that high-performance wakesurf boards are fragile. Built just like their ocean counterparts, wakesurf boards are built to perform at a high level but are also susceptible to dings, cracks, and harmful uv rays if not stored properly. We recommend protecting your new investment so that it lasts many years by keeping it tucked away inside a board bag or board sleeve.
All of those things can be avoided by simply handling your board with care and keeping it inside a board bag while in transit or not out on the water riding. So what are the benefits of carrying your board around in a board bag?
Here are just a few of them:
- Helps keep your board protected from harmful UV rays, accidental drops, and those "oh $%&!" moments.
- Transporting your wakesurf board to/from the lake is much easier thanks to the carrying handle and/or shoulder strap.
- There is typically extra room to store fins, board shorts, life jacket, or whatever else you need on the water.
- Take your board wherever you go as it can now be checked onto a flight, train, or bus ride.
A sleeve is the less expensive, but also offers less protection than a full on board bag. While they will limit UV exposure and prevent scratches or light damage, a sleeve is no match for the robust protection a full blown surfboard bag will provide.
Surf sleeves and knit bags are a great option to keep on the boat or the dock and provide a quick and easy way to stow your board when it's not being used. These are a great option if you just want something to protect the board while you keep it in the boat, but if you're transporting your board around, step up to the extra protection a board bag will offer.
We 110% recommend spending the extra $$$ and getting a board bag to protect your board on an everyday basis.
We hope you found the WakeMAKERS Wakesurf Board Buyer's Guide very helpful. Now you can use our exclusive Wakesurf Board Finder Tool to narrow down the choices and find that perfect wakesurf board for your summer. Enjoy!