Are you new to wake surfing and trying to figure out where to start?
Have you looked online or at your local store for the perfect board to start with, only to get overwhelmed by all of the options and terms you don’t quite understand? You aren’t alone.
Anyone starting something new will have a ton of questions and some uncertainty that they are getting what is best for them, or if they are getting what is best for the salesperson helping them.
And let’s be honest, the investment in a wakesurf board can be a big one, so you want to make sure you feel good about the decision you’ve made. With so many options, there’s a lot to know before you finally buy your first board.
I’ve put together the ultimate guide to buying your first wakesurf board so everything you need to know is in one place.
How Do You Buy A Wakesurf Board As A Beginmer?
How do you buy a wakesurf board as a beginner? Armed with some practical knowledge about shape, size, rocker, and rails, you’ll be able to buy exactly what is best for you.
Getting into wakesurfing and understanding the lingo can feel like learning a foreign language, albeit an easy one to learn. Especially if you’ve never participated in other board sports before, there’s a lot to learn.
We are going to go over the main things you’ll need to know when buying your first wakesurf board – shape, size, rocker, and rails.
None of these are too complicated, but if you aren’t sure what they are or how they impact ride, you could feel lost when looking for your first board.
The Makeup of a Wakesurf Board
A wakesurf board is made up of four main components – shape, size, rocker, and rails.
We’ll take a look at each of the components and go over how each will impact the ride of a board.
Along the way, we’ll go over what combination of components could be right for a beginner.
There are multiple options when it comes to wakesurf board shape; each is made for a different riding style and ability level.
The three main shape categories are – surf style, skim style, and hybrid. Within each of these categories, there’s also a lot of variation to what a board will look like, feel like, and what it’s built from.
Let’s outline the three main wakesurfer shapes:
Surf Style – these boards are basically a surf shortboard, just smaller. The board typically is on the thicker side, has multiple fin options, and uses a directional shape on the bottom.
The fins and directional shape help the board track in the water while the extra volume helps the board stay on top of the water.
Surf style boards tend to be the best option for a beginner because they are slightly easier to ride because of their extra size and tracking ability.
They also come in multiple sizes depending on how much the rider weighs.
Skim Style – Skim style boards are reminiscent of skimboards. They are typically smaller, lighter, and with fewer bottom features.
Skim style boards are less buoyant and don’t track in the water as well because of smaller fins and fewer hull features, leading to a slippery and playful ride experience.
It’s usually experienced riders who are the most comfortable riding a skim style board because it’s a little less forgiving and more difficult to control than a surf style board.
Hybrid Style – Hybrid boards provide a combination of surf and skim features in one package.
There’s a lot of variation in the hybrid category because there are a lot of combinations to be made when adding surf features and skim features. If you are looking for a playful ride but also need the added buoyancy and stability, a hybrid board would probably be a good fit.
A hybrid board could be a more typical surf style board but with smaller fins, or a skim style board with larger fins, both would provide a mix of the capabilities of a surf style board and a skim style board.
As there are a variety of shapes and hull designs available, there’s also a variety of sizes to choose from. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be confusing to decide what size is right for you.
If you go to the store without a plan, it’d be easy to walk away with a board that isn’t the best fit.
In general, the size board you need is related to how much you weigh, but there are some exceptions and there aren’t any official recommendations because what you like and how it feels to you plays a very important role.
The style board you choose, the rocker, and the rails will also have an impact on the size board you should be looking at. Wakesurf boards are measured in feet and inches and range from under 4 Ft. long to over 5 Ft. long.
If you are just starting, however, here are a few recommendations to help guide your decision.
- Larger wakesurfers have more surface area and are more buoyant. If you are on the heavier side, you will want to go with a larger board. Also, if your boat produces a smaller wake or if you are just getting into wakesurfing, a larger board might be a better fit.
- Smaller wakesurf boards are more nimble and faster. They are a great option for smaller people and more experienced riders who are looking for a challenge.
|Rider Weight||Surf Style||Skim Style||Hybrid Style|
|Up to 110 lbs||up to 4′||up to 4′||up to 4′|
|110 lbs – 170 lbs||4′ – 4’8″||4′ – 4’4″||4′ – 4’8″|
|160 lbs – 200 lbs||4’8″ – 5′||4’4″ – 4’10”||4’8″ – 5′|
|190 lbs – 250+ lbs||5′ +||4’10” +||5′ +|
For someone new to board sports, rocker can be a foreign concept, though it isn’t too complicated. Wakesurf boards aren’t perfectly flat.
They have a slight curve to them that lifts the nose and tail of the board higher than the middle. This curvature is referred to as rocker.
Just like shape and size, there are also options when it comes to the amount of rocker a board has. You can find boards with more or less rocker, though even boards with minimal rocker will still be slightly curved.
As a rule, boards with less rocker will be a little bit faster because they sit higher on the water, while boards with more rocker will be a little slower because they have more water resistance to overcome.
As a beginner, a board with more rocker will provide more stability while you get your sea legs.
The last thing to consider when buying a wakesurf board is the shape of the rails, or edges, of the board.
Rail design impacts the ride of a board and there are a few things to consider when thinking about what type of rails you want your board to have.
Are you looking for a sharper, more precise ride or are you after a softer, more forgiving ride?
The rails will dictate which type of ride you get because they impact the way water flows around the board. There are two main variables when it comes to rails – thickness and shape.
There are varying thicknesses available, ranging from very thin to very thick. A thicker board will be less responsive because it will bite into the water less than a thinner board.
The three edge shapes are hard, soft, and blended. A hard edge will feature a sharp edge that will be more responsive to a rider’s movements.
A soft rail will have a less abrupt edge that is less responsive and more stable than a hard edge. A blended edge has some benefits of both a hard and a soft rail.
If you are new to wakesurfing and looking to buy your first board, there is a lot to consider and a lot to learn about before making the decision.
It is also an exciting time for you to begin to hone your skills as a wakesurfer by getting behind the boat and riding as much as possible.
By understanding board shape, size, rocker, and rail types you will be as well equipped as possible to feel confident in the board you buy.
As a beginner, you will want to look for a surf style board that has a decent amount of rocker and a thick soft edge. A board like this will provide the most stability and could help keep the frustration low while you are learning.
However, if you’ve been doing water sports for a while and have decent balance, you may be able to pick up wakesurfing on a smaller board with a hard edge just as easily as a larger board.