How To Buy A Wakeboard
Wakeboarding offers a different set of thrills and requires a different
set of skills than traditional waterskiing. As the sport has grown in
popularity, the variety and sophistication of the products has increased.
Choosing the Right Wakeboard
There are two main factors involved in determining which type of wakeboard
is right for you:
- If you come from a surfing or water/snow skiing background, you will
probably prefer a single-tip board. This design has a
more pointed front and a square back, much like the design of a surfboard.
- If your experience has been primarily in snowboarding or skateboarding,
you will be more comfortable with a twin-tip board.
Twin-tips are more rounded in both the front and back, like a snowboard or a
Level of Ability
- Beginners should opt for a square railed board
that offers control, stability and the ability for long, sweeping cuts outside
- This version is generally less expensive because they do not include
many of the high-tech additions of more advanced boards
- Square rails, however, make it more difficult to make landings from air
tricks because the edges are sharper (less rounded) and make it easier to catch
- Advanced riders will prefer a board with round
- Tricks are easier and softer to land because there is less of a chance
of catching an edge
- Round rails also enable the board to go faster and provide a quicker
lift on jumps
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Again, it is your ability level and style of riding that will determine
which type of wakeboard to buy.
- Wakeboards are comprised of generally the same materials as water
- A polyurethane or foam core is wrapped by a fiberglass or
fiberglass/graphite (on advanced boards) composite exterior
- Most wakeboards are made between 120-150 centimeters in length
- Most boards will come with an indication of the proper size and weight
of the rider
- If in doubt, choose the longer board because a shorter board will not
perform well if the rider is too large or heavy for it
- In general, the shorter the board the less stability in starts and
turns, so beginners should also choose a slightly longer board to make learning
- Wakeboard widths generally range from 39 to 43 centimeters. The width is
made in conjunction with the length of the board.
The amount of rocker describes a wakeboard's bottom profile using the angles where the board curves at either end.
Wakeboard rockers have three major categories: continuous, continuous/progressive and three-stage.
- Continuous rocker offers predictable performance with a smooth curve from tip to tail. It accelerates smoothly
and generates a comfortable pop off the wake.
- Continuous/progressive rockers are They have a continuous rocker through the belly and then become gradually
more angled around the area under the feet.
- Three-stage rockers are also designed for enhanced acceleration and an agressive lift off the wake. They
typically have a significant flat spot in the middle of the board and then kink or curve abruptly under the feet and
flatten out off the tip and tail.
- Wakeboards generally come with rockers between 5-6 centimeters
- A higher rocker--a more rounded bottom-- makes it easier to land jumps
- A lower rocker--a flatter bottom-- is easier to control when going straight and
Fins keep the board traveling in the direction in which you
point it and prevent it from freely rotating on the water. It does this using
vertical depth and the shape of the foil, or profile,
of the fin from front to back.
- Wider foils move more water and create drag and lift under your
- Thinner foils push less water and let the fin guide your board without
Depth and Base
Rocker and fin hole placement should be considered when selecting a fin
- Extra rocker pulls the fin up out of the water and compromises hold, as
will a wider fin setting
- Elongated bases address rocker problems, giving the water a snowy feel
and giving shallow fins more surface area for effective cutting and
- Measure the rocker and fin holes in a complete board that feels
comfortable to you and compare it to those in a new board you're thinking about
- Rough conditions call for a larger fin that will provide hold and
control while you're bouncing around in the chop
- For smooth, clear conditions, the maneuverability of a smaller, thinner
fin is preferred by most boarders
In general, a ramp style fin is a good place to start. It is considered
the most universal of shapes, and seems to work for a lot of different
riding styles. Having a few sets of fins can give you almost as much
owning a collection of complete boards. A long base shape with different
depths and foils offer a great deal of
- Sharper and deeper for choppy conditions or extra control in new
- Rampy and shallow for smooth, free-riding conditions
The overlay provides the majority of foot support by pulling the toe and
heel pieces together, and creating a snug, secure attachment for your board.
They should be cut or molded thick enough to offer support, but not so thick
that they don't stretch.
- The standard system has two overlays that criss-cross behind and in
front of the foot and lock down to the hardware around the ankle and fore
- Overlays are designed to offer ankle support without
- Overlays work effectively by pushing your heel down; many newer bindings
have adjustable straps, laces or buckles in the overlay package to accomplish
- These closures range from firm plastic with a ratcheting buckle to
systems with a lace-up closure connected to a rubber or cordura overlay.
Closures must be cinched down enough for consistent, all-over, non-binding
The underlay makes contact with the top of your foot and the
Achilles tendon area. Today's underlays are usually made from some form of EVA
(Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, a foam and rubber hybrid). EVA is much lighter than
rubber and allows for vibrant, contemporary colors.
- EVA underlays vary from very flexible to very stiff.
- A stiffer underlay offers more support, but may impede comfort and easy
underlays will be comfortable but may not offer all the structure you
- Make sure that when you wear the boot, there aren't any areas that pinch
or bind your foot. There are also variations in the type of rubber/neoprene
laminated to the EVA for comfort and grip on the skin. Ensure that there is a
bond between the rubber and EVA, and that anything sewn or cut on the underlay
is clean and sturdy looking.
Hardware is usually made from metal or nylon. The hardware functions to
hold the binding pieces together and support to the side of the foot.
- Good hardware should be ergonomically designed, curving into the arch
and out at the toes. The heel piece should sit like a fitted cup and offer
support all the way around the heel.
- Make sure that your foot can't slide on top of any of the hardware
pieces; landing in that position will cause bruises on your foot.
- There are a number of companies that make aftermarket bolts and
accessories for your bindings. The most important is a good set of bolts to
lock the baseplates down. Most of these sets come with a set of countersunk
washers that spread the load of the bolt and add a custom look.
A wakeboard binding baseplate may look fairly straightforward, but start
assembling them with various boards and you'll begin to understand the
differences among them.
- A baseplate must be strong and stiff; a flexible
baseplate will reduce the feel and control you have over your board.
- The strength and stiffness of a plate is based on the quality and
- Your baseplate also needs to offer you plenty of stance options. You
should be able to get within a fraction of an inch of your ideal stance,
including stance width and angles from the middle (rail to rail) of the
Footbeds should offer not only a lot of support, but also a comfortable
resting place for your feet. Support feel in footbeds is similar to that in
skates, or basketball or running shoes.
- The heel should sit a little higher than the ball of the foot to
accommodate the ankles and knees. The bed should
also have a nice heel cup to hold you firmly in place.
- On the surface of the footbeds, look for a comfortable form of traction
to keep your soles from sliding around when they get wet.
- A raise under the toes and an arch support are typical for most
bindings, giving you leverage on your toeside edge and keeping you from sliding
out the toe hole.
- For shock absorption, make sure the foot bed isn't too soft. Some
manufacturers use two different densities of foam for a combination of
comfort and shock absorption. Others have gone to air and gel pockets under the
heel for added shock absorption.
Entrance / Adjustment
Bindings with some flexibility, adjustability and good finger holes make
for easy on-and-off. If you like to ride with a boot that is really snug or
tight, then your boots are going to be a little hard to get into. If you're
lots of force and soap, then you should consider something bigger or more
adjustable. Adjustability can mean one of two things:
- You can tighten the boot around your foot with straps, buckles, ties and
- You can take the boot apart and tighten the overlays. With some
adjustment in the overlays, you can buy a boot that you will be able to adjust
to keep snug even
after it is broken-in.
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Choosing the Right Rope
Wakeboarders require a stiffer rope than water skiers to help perform
tricks. A tighter, stiffer rope that does not stretch helps you get more air
and be able to pull yourself through flips and spins.
- Low stretch ropes are generally constructed of
polyethylene or some blend of it
- These generally stretch around 1 percent in length when under a normal
- No-stretch ropes are constructed using a material called Spectra
- Spectra rope is very strong and has almost no elastic properties. They
stretch less than half a percent when under load.
- If most or all of your time is spent water skiing, a ski rope should be
your choice even if you are wakeboarding
- If you mainly wakeboard or are trying to improve your skills and learn
tricks, a stiffer rope is your best bet
- If you spend equal amounts of time skiing and wakeboarding, and you are
an occasional or recreational user, a low-stretch rope will do the job. This
gives you some stretch for recreational water skiing, but also offers enough
stiffness to pull against when wakeboarding.
- Wakeboard ropes vary in length, but most are sixty to seventy feet
- Some are one piece with no length adjustment, while others offer
multiple adjustment loops
- Wakeboard handles tend to be more specialized than water-ski handles
because they offer more features that make tricks and aerial maneuvers
- Most wakeboard handles have a wider grip than water ski handles
- Wakeboard handles commonly have grips that are 13-15 inches wide,
whereas ski handles are generally 11-12 inches wide
- The increased grip width makes it easier to perform tricks requiring
the handle to be passed behind the rider's back
- Wakeboard handles usually have a rope braid for the rider to hold onto;
or offer a second, smaller handle grip built into the rope for a stronger
- Most wakeboard handles have neoprene foam floats on them to keep the
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