Why Your Wakeboard Size Matters and How to Choose

Wakeboarding is a fun sport for hot summer days on the water. It takes some skill and balance, but choosing the right equipment is key to having fun and preventing frustrations. The size of your wakeboard will have a significant impact on how well you can get up quickly, keep your balance, cut, and learn tricks.

The size of a wakeboard influences the stability, control, and balance of the rider. These factors differ according to the rider’s height and weight, so choosing an appropriately-sized wakeboard can significantly improve your riding ability.

Are you looking to improve your wakeboarding skills, and think you might need a new board to up your game? Or maybe you’re new to wakeboarding, and you aren’t sure where to start? Well, look no further, because this is your complete guide to choosing the right wakeboard that will have you slicing through the water with ease in no time!

Does Wakeboard Size Matter?

Many people think that wakeboarding is a one size fits all kind of sport. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Finding the right size wakeboard for you is crucial to feeling safe in the water. A wakeboard that is too big will be too cumbersome to maneuver on the waves correctly, and a wakeboard that is too small might will give you little to no stability and have you sinking beneath the surface of the water before you gain any speed.

The size of a wakeboard can affect quite a few aspects of the ride. Depending on the size, it may even be more difficult for you to stand up on the board! Learning about these different factors will help you decide if a bigger or smaller wakeboard is right for you. (Source: JB O’Neill)

Browse The House wakeboard catalog by clicking here.

Ability Level

Depending on how long you’ve been wakeboarding and your level of skill and experience, the size of your wakeboard can make or break your experience. For a beginner, it will be challenging to get the stability you need, so a longer board would be helpful.

For beginners, a longer board is generally:

  • Easier when learning to ride
  • Easier when learning to do tricks
  • More stable underneath your feet

For a beginner, it is best to start with a longer board because it provides a much more stable surface. That increased surface area is crucial for a beginner wakeboarder to be able to gain their balance. Standing up on a wakeboard is the first big hurdle to overcome, and it is significantly easier to do when you have a longer board.

Longer boards allow beginners to learn much more comfortably, but that doesn’t mean that a longer board will be right all the time. For more intermediate and advanced wakeboarders (especially those wanting to do tricks), a shorter board may be the way to go.

For intermediate and advanced wakeboarders, shorter boards:

  • Can maneuver quickly through the air
  • Allow for easier spins on the water
  • Are much lighter than longer boards

A more advanced rider who is keen on doing some tricks in the water would likely do much better on a smaller board. (Source: Evo)

Stability

It can be challenging to get the stability that you need to start flying across the water finally. Most beginners have trouble just standing up on a wakeboard, let alone staying standing. The size of the wakeboard can determine how stable you feel in the water. Even if you’re not a beginner, the size and shape of your board will significantly impact how steady you feel on the waves.

 A longer board can help with:

  • Moving faster through the water
  • Landing easier after a trick
  • Better ability to float

Because longer boards have more surface area, they provide a more solid base underneath your feet. Increased stability will mean that you will be able to glide faster across the water without losing your balance. The larger surface area of the board also gives you a much smoother landing after a trick, and it helps keep you buoyant in the water. In general, you are less likely to sink or trip up on a longer wakeboard. (Source: HumanoidWake)

Control

Another variable that can change based on the size of the board is the amount of control that you have. Longer boards tend to be better for learning new tricks because of the increased surface area. The board has a longer nose and tail, providing more contact with the water. This allows for greater control during tricks.

When you have a better sense of control in the water, it will also give you more confidence while you’re riding. You will most likely feel more at ease attempting new tricks, and your landings after your tricks will be much softer.

Even if you aren’t planning on doing many tricks while wakeboarding, having a sense of control while you are standing on the board can also help you move faster. You will have increased maneuverability, so you will be able to turn and move with the movement of the board without much risk of falling. (Source: Blemboard)

Tricks

Tricks are an essential factor to consider when choosing the size of your wakeboard. If you are a wakeboarder who wants to be able to flip around and spin in the air with ease, a shorter board may be right for you.

While it is generally easier to learn tricks on a longer board, a shorter wakeboard provides lightness and ease that make tricks much more quick and effortless. However, shorter boards make for a much harder landing.

Here is a short list of a few fun wakeboarding tricks to try:

  • Tail grab
  • Ollie
  • Surface 180
  • Crossing the wake
  • Jumping the wake

You can do these tricks on any board size. Still, for tricks like the tail grab, ollie, and jumping the wake that involve jumping in the air, beginners might like the smoother landing of a longer board, while other riders may appreciate the lift they get from a smaller, lighter board. When learning tricks, it is certainly more comfortable on a longer board. Beyond that, it is mostly a matter of personal preference. (Source: Neilson)

How to Pick the Right Wakeboard Size

Choosing the right wakeboard size for you is a bit more complicated than choosing large or small. Wakeboards come in a range of different lengths. You should choose your wakeboard length according to your height, weight, and wakeboarding goals.

The most crucial factor for choosing a wakeboard that is right for you will be your weight. Tailoring your board to your dimensions will give you the right amount of stability, control, and balance in the water.

The following chart from evo provides an appropriate guideline for wakeboard length based on your weight. Each link takes you evo’s recommended boards for your size.

Rider Weight (lbs)Wakeboard Length (cm)
< 100< 130
90-150130-134
130-180135-139
170-250140-144
200-275+144+
evo boards available using the links in the various sizes referenced

As you can see, the numbers do overlap. This accounts for the rider preference for a shorter or longer board. However, in general, heavier riders will do better with longer boards than lighter riders.

Why Choose a Shorter Wakeboard?

You should choose a board size within the recommended range for your height, but there are a few reasons why you might want a board on the shorter end of that range. 

Choose a shorter wakeboard for:

  • A slower ride across the water
  • Easy flips in the air
  • Faster spins in the water
  • Quick maneuvering in the air and the water

Shorter boards are, of course, much lighter. This means that when you pop off the wake, you’re likely to get more height during your tricks. You will spin faster during spinning tricks. However, shorter wakeboards make landing a little bit trickier. On a shorter board, landings will be a bit harsher because of the decreased surface area of the wakeboard.

There are other factors like the board’s shape that contribute to the feel of it in the water, but generally, if you want a slightly slower ride through the water with increased maneuverability, a shorter board might be the right way to go.

Why Choose a Longer Wakeboard?

Besides being great for beginners, or people learning to do tricks for the first time, longer boards are a common choice among wakeboarders. Longer boards have heaps of great benefits to your ride across the water.

A longer wakeboard is more suitable for many things, including:

  • A faster ride across the water
  • A more reliable and responsive ride
  • More control and stability on the wake
  • Easier time learning new tricks
  • Easier time standing up on the board and finding balance

Riders who want to cut through the water and have the security and stability to learn lots of new tricks would seriously benefit from a longer board. Even if you aren’t into doing a bunch of tricks, a longer wakeboard may still be the way to go so you can move more quickly through the water, have an easier time balancing, and decrease the likelihood of sinking.

Longer wakeboards can be cumbersome and heavy in the air sometimes, but they are a very suitable choice for a rider looking for speed and stability. You’ll be able to balance more effortlessly and zip through the wake with ease.

Choosing a Wakeboard by Ability

Any rider at any experience level is capable of riding any board. However, there are specific sizes and styles of boards that will be much easier for beginners, more challenging for intermediate riders, and suitable for the needs of advanced riders.

evo discusses board type and size for beginners with some tips

Wakeboards for Beginners

If you have never ridden before, choosing a larger board within the range that is appropriate for your weight will make it much easier to learn. A longer board means an increased surface area, so it will be easier to float, find your balance, and stand up.

Another factor to consider when choosing a board is the shape. The following are the best wakeboard shapes for beginners:

  • Continuous rocker
  • Hybrid rocker

A longer, continuous board shape is the most optimal shape for beginners. This will help you begin to cultivate more confidence on the wake so that you can feel stable and secure enough to try learning new tricks.

Wakeboards for Intermediate Riders

Intermediate riders may be ready to challenge themselves and develop their wakeboarding skills. So, if you’re an intermediate rider, you may want to find a different board than you started with so that you can up your wakeboarding game.

Intermediate wakeboarders may want to switch boards to:

  • Cross the wake in both directions
  • Clear the wake in both directions
  • Find their preferred riding style

For intermediate riders, you can choose the size based on personal preference, but choosing the shape can be mostly based on the riding style you prefer.

Intermediate riders can essentially choose any style of board: continuous3 stage, or hybrid. They can choose their length based on how comfortable they feel with their tricks and landings. So, once you figure out what you want your ride to feel like and how you plan on crossing the wake, you can choose features like the shape and fins to suit your preferences.

Wakeboards for Advanced Riders

Some people might not be sure of their ability level when it comes to wakeboarding. If you have been riding for a long time, you could consider yourself a more experienced rider. Still, it can be hard to determine precisely when you’ve crossed over from being an intermediate rider to an advanced rider. 

Here are some characteristics that indicate you are probably an advanced rider:

  • You have learned how to spin and flip
  • You are attempting to learn even more new tricks
  • You have been riding for a while and are ready for a challenge

So, if you’re an advanced rider, what kind of board would be right for you? You should certainly choose a board length that is within the appropriate range for your weight.

Most advanced riders choose the following board shapes:

  • Aggressive continuous rocker 
  • 3 stage rocker

These kinds of boards are a little less forgiving in the water, which makes for a great challenge. Of course, more advanced riders can choose any shape or size that they want, but after a lot of wakeboarding experience, riders tend to want more of a challenge. So, going for a smaller board with a more aggressive shape will provide a more stimulating experience in the wake.

Choosing a Wakeboard by Riding Style

While beginners are better suited choosing a longer board for a smoother ride, intermediate and advanced riders are free to pick a board by rocker and riding style according to their preference. There are three main riding styles to choose from that will affect the feeling of the board across the wake:

  • Continuous rocker
  • 3 stage rocker
  • Hybrid rocker

There are other types of boards and new styles that come out all the time, but these three are the most popular. It is vital to be familiar with these rockers and riding styles so that as you begin to develop your wakeboarding skills, you are better able to choose the appropriate size and style for you.

Continuous Rocker

A wakeboard with a continuous rocker has one long curved shape. The contour of the board is subtle but continuous, with no other bends, curves, or dips. This gentle curve provides much softer landings after a particularly big faster glide across the water.

Other characteristics of continuous rockers include:

  • Faster glide across the water
  • Consistent pop (height) off of the wake
  • Consistent, smooth runs
  • Easier turns

A wakeboard with a continuous rocker is recommended when performing tricks in the flats. It provides a consistent and smooth ride that will make landing much more comfortable on the knees. The curve of the continuous rocker also provides excellent pop and height off of the wake, making it ideal for catching more air during tricks. Turns are smoother, and there is an increase in maneuverability across the wake.

This board is also great for beginner wakeboarders. It provides a smooth, stable ride that makes it much easier to find and keep your balance. Beginners will find it easier to stand up and stay standing on a continuous rocker style.

3 Stage Rocker

A board with a 3 stage rocker has three distinct plains: one in the middle, and a nose and a tail on the sides. A 3 stage rocker is typically better for riders who want a much more dramatic pop off of the wake. This style of board is not ideal for speed, but it has many other fantastic characteristics. 

You may want to consider a 3 stage rocker for:

  • Higher pop off of the wake
  • Performing wake to wake tricks
  • A looser or slippery ride

The 3 stage rocker style has less surface area in contact with the water, so it results in a slower ride. However, many riders find this style ideal for getting more height off of the wake and performing wake to wake tricks. 

A 3 stage rocker is better for a more intermediate or advanced rider because of this. It is much more challenging to land softly with a 3 stage rocker, so it is more suitable for a wakeboarder looking for a more aggressive riding style. (Source: Southtown Boardsports)

Hybrid Rocker

The hybrid rocker, as you may guess from its name, is the best of both worlds. The hybrid rocker is designed to take the best features from the 3 stage and continuous rockers and blend them. This type of board has one long, continuous line, but upon closer look, you notice that there are three subtle sections of the board.

Unlike the 3 stage rocker, the hybrid has much more subtle curves. This style of board allows for:

  • Great performance in a wide variety of tricks
  • Consistent and high pop off of the wake
  • Fast and smooth ride

The hybrid rocker is an ideal board for riders who perform a variety of different tricks on the wake and still want a stable and fast ride across the water. These kinds of boards are suitable for riders of all different skill levels.

Wakeboard Base Shapes and Features

Just as important as the size of your wakeboard, it is crucial to consider the shape as well. The base shape of the board can have a significant effect on the smoothness of the ride throughout the water.

Riders can add these features to their boards to:

  • Change the way they glide across the water
  • Help them perform tricks
  • Direct water underneath the board
  • Aid in direction control
  • Help with edging

Read on to learn about the board features that can improve your wakeboarding experience.

Concaves

Concaves are circular indentations on the bottom of the wakeboard. These indentations can help give you a better lift when you’re riding as well as help you sit higher on the water. 

Concaves can be very helpful because they also:

  • Act as suction-reducing accelerators
  • Cruise almost like a hovercraft
  • Give a lifting effect that propels you across the water

A wakeboard can have single concaves or double. Some boards may have more concaves than others. The more concaves there are, the higher the board will sit in the water. Additionally, the placement of the concaves will change how the board moves on the wake. Picking the number of concaves as well as the placement of them is an important detail to ensure the perfect ride.

Channels

Another handy addition to the bottom of your wakeboard is channels. Channels are just like long, protruding fins. They are placed on the bottom of the wakeboard. Channels are beneficial because they break the surface tension of the water first before the actual wakeboard.

Channels help your wakeboard in many ways, including:

  • Directing water underneath your board
  • Helping with directional control
  • Helping with stability
  • Helping you edge harder

Deciding on channels for your wakeboard will affect the way that you ride in the water. There are more fins and other features that you can add to the board, but channels are a more subtle way to give you the control you may need. This is a feature that could be very helpful for beginner riders. Channels could also be useful to more advanced riders who are looking for a more controlled experience on the water.

V Shape Spines

V shape spines are in the shape of a V. The V shape spines are meant to mimic the V shape of the hull of a boat. Boats are shaped into Vs to increase their hydrodynamics. The same applies for wakeboards. V shape spines help the board become more hydrodynamic to cut through the water

Other helpful features of V shape spines include:

  • Allowing the rider to roll from edge to edge easily
  • Providing softer landings after a jump
  • Soft landings for 3 stage rockers 

Getting a board with V shape spines could be right for you if you are a rider who does a lot of tricks and enjoys the height off of the wake that a 3 stage rocker provides, but still wants a softer landing and a quicker ride through the water. The V shape spines will undoubtedly help you get the most out of your ride for all of the tricks you may want to perform as an intermediate or advanced rider.

Featureless

If you think a featureless wakeboard would have no channels, no concaves, and no V shape spines, you would be right. Featureless wakeboards are precisely what they sound like: featureless. They don’t use fins or other embellishments to help the rider glide across the water. This means that the performance of the board is dependent on its shape alone.

Choosing a featureless board means that there are no extra additions to make up for the shortcomings of a specific type of board. So, it becomes imperative to choose the right size and rocker to ensure you get the kind of ride that you want. (Source: OptCool)

Final thoughts

Choosing a wakeboard size and shape is a very individual process. When finding your optimal wakeboard size, it is crucial to consider the weight of the rider. An appropriate length that matches your weight will allow for a smoother and more stable ride across the water. The other aspects of your wakeboard are entirely up to your preference and abilities.

The size of the board matters, and so does the shape. Whatever wakeboard you choose, be sure to do your research before buying, and consider renting a board first to see how you like the way it moves in the water. Then, you can make an informed decision and have a much more enjoyable experience on the wake!


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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