When buying a wakeboard as a beginner, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different aspects of the equipment that you’re considering. These aspects affect the way you perform on the wakeboard, and it is very important that these aspects fit with your performance style. To help you get an idea as to what type of wakeboard will be most appropriate for you, we have provided you with this guide below. We’ve also made a list of our editor’s top rated wakeboards for beginners, including the Hyperlite Vapor.
Top 10 Best Wakeboards for Beginners
When choosing the length of your wakeboard, it’s important to choose one that can handle your weight and wakeboarding style. Failure to do this will result frustration, as the wakeboard won’t float adequately, and will end up with you having to buy an entirely new wakeboard sooner rather than later.
Most wakeboards measure anywhere from under 130 centimeters to above 144 centimeters. Wakeboarders under 100 pounds should stick with a wakeboard under 130 centimeters. Riders from 90-150 pounds should probably go with a wakeboard between 130-134 centimeters. For riders between 130 and 180 pounds, a wakeboard between 135-139 centimeters is ideal. Riders between 170 and 250 pounds are best served by a wakeboard between 140-144 centimeters. And, riders greater than 250 pounds should ideally select a wakeboard that’s longer than 144 centimeters.
When looking at boards that fall within your ideal size range, you can select one from the bottom side of the range, the top size of the range, or in the middle of the range.
Selecting a wakeboard with a length on the bottom of your size range
In general, a shorter wakeboard is slower and more difficult to push through water. Also, because its surface area is smaller, it makes landings more difficult than they would be with a longer board. However, because the board is smaller, it is easier to manipulate while in the air, making it easier to jump waves and perform spins. Overall, a smaller wakeboard would probably be ideal for a more experienced wakeboarder.
Selecting a wakeboard with a length on the top of your size range
A longer board is the opposite of a shorter board in a lot of ways. It’s easier to ride and control in general. It’s also faster, as its larger surface area gets extra push off the water, making it much easier to move through water. Of course, this added surface area also means that the board is not as good for doing tricks in the air. However, it is easier to control in the air. Overall, a longer wakeboard would probably be a better choice for a person who is relatively new to wakeboarding. It would offer more control, ease-of-use, and mobility to the rider.
Wakeboard Types by Ability Level
Wakeboards come in many different shapes. Some of these shapes are more appropriate for riders of certain ability levels than are other shapes. This doesn’t, however, mean that a rider of a beginner ability level can’t choose a board with a shape typically appropriate for a rider with an expert ability level. If a board feels right, there’s no reason that a rider should not use it.
Beginner-Intermediate Rider Level
For novice riders, including newbies, casual riders, or riders who are just starting to work their way into more serious riding, a beginner-intermediate wakeboard is the most appropriate. Typically, this type of wakeboard is very smooth, as it has a 3-stage rocker that allows for seamless weight transfer as the board goes over the wake.
Intermediate/Advanced Rider Level
For riders who are able to cross the wake from both directions while keeping their stability, it might be wise to check out an intermediate/advanced wakeboard. This type of wakeboard is highlighted by a rocker with less weight transfer ability, but more precision. There are a great many wakeboards that fall into this category.
Advanced/Expert Rider Level
Riders who have developed the ability to spin and do tricks on their board should take a look at an advanced/expert wakeboard. Less forgiving than intermediate and beginner boards, these boards will provide expert riders with the aggressiveness and power needed to pull off precise tricks.
Wakeboard Rocker and Riding Style
Different wakeboards have different rocking styles that suit different riding styles. Rocking refers to the weight transfer from one part of the board to another part as it hits water at different angles. There are, in general, three different types of rockers.
Providing riders with a fast and smooth ride, wakeboards with continuous rockers are great for carving on calm ocean days. The shape of the rocker is smooth, curved, and continuous, providing the board with its great speed. It’s a very consistent and reliable rocker style that will give riders precise, and consistent jump off the wake.
Boards with 3-Stage rockers are typically slower and clunkier through the water. They are shaped into three different angled surfaces that produce greater height off of the wake, but that land a lot harder than many other rocker types. This may make it difficult for a rider to maintain his or her balance. This rocker also makes the rider feel less stable and in control on the water.
With a floating, lightweight feel, a camber rocker has two surface points on the ends of the board that are separated by an arch in the middle. This type of rocker provides the rider with a great deal of stability, control, and height off the wake. However, it does not have the same height as a 3-stage rocker, and does not have as much speed as a continuous rocker. It’s a comfortable rocker that lies somewhere between those two rockers.
These are boards that contain rockers lying somewhere in between the big three.
Wakeboard Base Shapes & Materials
Concaves are little indentations on the bottom of the board that serve to make it jump higher and glide across the water smoothly.
Channels are tiny fins on the bottom of the board that pierce the water before the full weight of the board hits. They essentially lessen the impact of the board on the water.
Often added to 3-stage rollers to soften landings, V-shape spines help the board to roll smoothly from edge to edge.
This is a board without any molded fins or channels. This type of board leaves all the work to the rider, the shape of the board, and the fins.
This type of base is used for boards that have to endure metal and other rough surfaces that produce wear and tear associated with rail riding.
Wakeboard Edges and Fins
The sharpness of the edge is one of its defining aspects. Sharper edges are faster, but are also susceptible to unwanted crashes and wipe outs. These types of edges are better for people who like to carve. Rounder edges are slower, but much smoother, and are better for people who like to do tricks, as they are easier to land and control. Variable edge boards exist as well. These boards have sharper edges in the back and the front, and rounder edges in the middle. This gives the rider the best of both worlds; sharp edges for carving, and round edges for jumping and landing.
Fins exist on the board to give it grip and stability. Longer fins increase grip on the water, but also make it difficult to get in the air and do any tricks. Having a great number of fins on the outside of the bottom of the board will produce the most grip and stability. Typically, as a rider gets better at riding, he or she will want get smaller fins. Two types of fins exist: screw-in fins and molded fins. Molded fins are more durable, but they can’t be taken off. Screw-in fins can be unattached and replaced, giving rider’s flexibility over as he or she gets better and doesn’t need as many fins.
Does Wakeboard Weight Matter?
Light wakeboards are ideal, as they give the rider a smoother and faster ride. The problem is that they are also often more expensive.
Wakeboard Care and Maintenance Tips
A wakeboard is an investment, and in order to get the most out of your investment, you must keep up with its maintenance. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Make sure you don’t leave your board in the sun for long periods of time, as exposure to too much sun will damage the board
- After riding your board in salt water, be sure to rinse it off with fresh water
- Buy a wakeboard bag to store your board. These bags will protect your board from scrapes and nicks, and make it easier to transport from place to place. Before putting your board back in the bag, make sure it’s dry.
- Keep your wakeboard and other gear in a cool and dry spot