Imagine the wind in your hair as you ride the wake of a speedboat.
Watersports don’t come more thrilling. The traditional method would be to waterski, but just as snowboarding revolutionized skiing, wakeboards have transformed how we waterski.
So to give some attention to wakeboards, here’s the lowdown on what basics you need to know to choose the best boat wakeboards.
Wonder what riding a wakeboard is like and want to give it a try? Read on to discover the four best adult and four best kids wakeboards, plus the essential accessories you’ll need.
Let’s Talk About Wakeboarding
Wakeboard origin trace back to the mid-sixties when surfers would drag behind powerboats when the seas were calm with little surf. It was another way of getting that adrenalin rush while waiting for the right surfing conditions, and the sport soon took on fast.
Fast forward to the mid-eighties in Australia, where a company called “Skurfer” was founded by Tony Finn, producing the first dedicated surfboard/wakeboards hybrids.
Skurfer produced the first dedicated wakeboard in the early nineties, and since then, wakeboarding has increased in popularity. As the years roll by, wakeboarding has challenged waterskiing as the number one surface watersport, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s fast, agile and the tricks are mindblowing.
How to Choose the Best Boat Wakeboard
Many factors determine which wakeboard is right for you: size, weight, material and shape. Even the type of wakeboarding you intend to do, and whether it has fins or channels on the base for stability. Here’s a guide on these features to help steer you toward the best boat wakeboard for you.
Most wakeboards are constructed from either solid wood or a polymer foam core wrapped in fiberglass.
The foam varieties are lightweight, cheaper and more durable and better suited to beginners, children and general wakeboarders.
However, the wooden wakeboards flex better and are more expensive, so are often the choice of the professionals.
Size and Length
Whether a child or an adult, your weight determines the size of the wakeboard you should choose. Size your wakeboard correctly if you want to avoid accidents or damage to your expensive board. Here are the size variations based on the weight of the rider and the length of the board:
- 100 lbs = 130 cm
- 90-150 lbs = 130-134 cm
- 130-180 lbs = 135-139 cm
- 170-250 lbs = 140-144 cm
- 200-275 lbs = 144 cm
The Flex Factor
Each wakeboard has a certain amount of flex—the way the board bends under pressure—and how it flexes determines the characteristics of the ride. Some boards are better suited for gliding across the water’s surface while others are more comfortable when landing. There’s no right and wrong when it comes to flex, only what feels best for you.
Wooden boards are prone to better flexing, meaning they’re the choice of many professionals for their ability to be agile and perform complicated maneuvers.
Some wakeboards have molded fins, and others have fins that can be bolted to the base of the board.
The fin gives greater stability and traction, especially when skimming the surface of the water. A wakeboard without fins is looser and moves more freely in the water, making them ideal for performing jumps and tricks. You’ll typically find that boat wakeboards have fins and channels that increase the locked-down feel of the board, making them ideal for cutting through the wake of the boat.
The deeper and longer the fin, the harder it is to break the board free of the surface to perform tricks. It makes an ideal addition for anyone learning to wakeboard for the first time because of the increased stability and predictability of the way the board handles.
Advanced wakeboards typically offer the option of removable fins so that the rider can change the way the board behaves in the water, especially if they are performing jumps, turns, and lift.
Rocker refers to the shape of the board. There are three types of rocker:
- 3-Stage — This is where the board is shaped with raised lips at the front and rear, but the base is essentially flat. It’s designed to give you height when you hit the wake. The downside is that the board feels less stable with a tendency to plow through the wake rather than cut cleanly through. Also, landings are more intense, leaving the board feeling sluggish.
- Continuous — This type of wakeboard is one continuous smooth curved shape. These boards are faster, more agile and great for increasing the pop (height) when hitting the wake. The ultra-smooth ride allows you to hook up turns more efficiently, and you can generate a lot more speed.
- Hybrid — This style of board borrows something from the other two, with the profile of the 3-stage but the curves of the continuous rocker. It means that you get the added agility without the bumpy landings.
Other Wakeboard Features to Consider
- Concaves — These are dents on the base of the board that reduces drag, increase lift and acts as accelerators. Also, the board sits higher in the water.
- Channels — These are similar to fins in that they break surface tension before the rest of the board hits the water. You get a more controlled and stylish ride as the board grips the surface of the water.
- V-Shaped Spine — Spines help to soften the landing and allow more significant motion from side to side in the water, similar to a v-shaped hull on a boat. 3-stage rocker boards often have these attached to improve the landing experience and agility.
- Grind Base — For the more advanced wakeboarder, the grind base is designed to increase durability and enhance the board’s ability to withstand damage as you slide over metal, PVC and docks. It takes all the punishment you can throw at it.
What Speed Should You Pull a Wakeboard?
The speed that you tow a wakeboard depends on the ability of the rider and the space you have available.
- 10 MPH — A decent wake starts to form, which is perfect if you have a trainer board or are towing young children and need to remember safety.
- 21 MPH — At speeds of less than 21 MPH, the wake can still be “mushy,” where the riders board get swallowed by the white water, impeding their ability to perform cleanly. These conditions can hamper your ability to turn sharply or gain lift.
- 25 MPH — At this speed, the wake is better and firmer, giving wakeboarders the ability to perform more significant and better tricks and turns. Most professional wakeboarders like to go at this faster speed.
Basic Wakeboard Care and Maintenance
Once you’ve found the best boat wakeboard, you want to protect your investment. Here are some tips to make it last for many years to come:
- Keep your wakeboard out of the sun for prolonged periods. The UV light damages the board, so keep it in a protective bag when not in use. It avoids delamination of the fiber-glass as well as reduces fading.
- Always rinse off the board with fresh water to remove any salt residue, especially if you wakeboard on the ocean. Salt can be corrosive and, if left unchecked, will damage the surface of your board and severely affect its handling and performance.
- Keep your bindings clean and free of wax and oil.
- Check all the fins are tight and in place.
- Inspect your bindings before every ride.
- Always store your wakeboard in a cool, dark place and preferably off the ground to avoid damp and cold weather damage. A board rack is a worthwhile investment.
The Best Boat Wakeboards
The 4 Best Boat Wakeboards for Adults
- BOARD AND HANDLE COMBO: You Got This 2.0 Board and Handle Combo acts as a wakeboard, wakesurf board, kneeboard, boogie board, water skis, and tube to provide fun for everyone on the water
- EASY TO USE: Integrated side handles are covered with a soft rubber that provides excellent grip that allows riders to take control of the direction the board moves in
- FUN FOR EVERYONE: All riders, regardless of skill level or age, will be able to choose an activity and have a blast on the water! Riders with greater abilities will be able to carve, spin, surf and perform tricks while less ambitious riders can calmly cruise along
- DURABLE: ABS Molded construction will keep the board working great after getting beat up over time. EVA foam padding will hold up and provide a comfortable ride for years to come
- INTEGRATED TOW HOOK: Built-in handle hook allows riders to start, move to a kneeling position or move to a standing position without worrying about holding onto the handle
This ZUP wakeboard is a three-in-one model: wakeboard, kneeboard and wakesurf board. So whatever your ability, age or style, this board has it covered. It even comes with the rope needed for towing.
There are two rubber grip handles on either side of the board, giving additional stability and better control of the board. There are also two foot grips for a better towing experience, and the surface of the board is coated in EVA foam padding for a better grip.
The board feels locked-down thanks to the v-channels that give the rider better stability and a smoother cut through the wake.
- Material: ABS (Polymer)
- Length: 144 cm
- Two molded-in fins with continuous rocker
This Full Throttle wakeboard has a continuous rocker, which means the board feels looser and more agile on the water.
The design gives you greater height on the wake and enables you to generate greater speed.
It comes complete with lace-up boots for better grip and ride, and with two molded fins and a v-bottom tunnel, you get a board that cuts through the water more efficiently, increasing the firmness of the ride.
- Material: ABS (Polymer)
- Length: 140 cm
- Hyperlite Machete Wakeboard
- 3 Stage Rocker
- Destroyer Wakeboard bindings are designed as an OSFM model (one size fits most) but the core range is 8-14.
- Two year Warranty
This Machete board is intended for serious wakeboarders, not beginners.
The rocker is 3-stage, which means you get a better ride when lifting off and landing. Available are four removable fins, which give stability when cutting through the wake, allowing tricks and high-speed towing.
The bindings are designed to be one-size-fits-most and have a size range of 8-14. They also have a quick-release lace-up system that releases with one tug of the lace.
- Material: Fiber-Glass and Polymer core
- Length: 136 cm to 144 cm
- The Charge is a full foam wakesurf board and a great and economical way for the whole family to enjoy the wake
- Quick to accelerate in the wake, it comes with a removeable 3-fin setup for agile turning and control
- Topped with a soft and grippy EVA pad for comfort and steerability
- Includes a back board kicker and a 4 inch nose rocker
- Charge Wakesurf Board is built for beginners to advanced wakesurf riders
Technically, this Airhead is a wakesurf board, so it has no bindings to secure your feet. What it does have is a removable EVA foam kick plate at the rear to give you extra lift and better turning control. Couple that with the 4-inch nose rocker, and it’s an agile board.
The surface is coated in EVA soft-grip padding for comfort, and the three removable fins add an element of stability and increased control.
Take the fins off, and you get a faster, looser board, better suited to lift and tricks.
- Material: Polymer Foam
- Length: 150 cm
The 4 Best Boat Wakeboards for Kids
- TRAINING BOARD: All-encompassing board makes teaching fun. Training board serves as a wakeboard, kneeboard, and water skis so young riders can work their way up
- RAISED SEAT: Comfortable, EVA raised padded seat on board allows riders to start out sitting and learn to stand on the water
- ATTACHED ROPE: The included tow rope and Starter Handle give first time riders the confidence to learn and grow in their water sports adventures
- SLOW SPEEDS: No need for quick starts. The buoyant Coast Board is designed with a large front rocker so the nose won't dip down and scare the rider
- VERSATILITY: Riders can do 360's as well as cut and carve as confidence grows. Unlike other trainers, they won't outgrow this Board in the first season. With a 150 lb. weight limit, the Coast Board also allows for lots of different sized riders
If you want a wakeboard for beginners, this is it! Designed to be an all-in-one trainer board, kneeboard and waterski board, it’s great for any child’s skill level.
It also has an EVA padded seat so that riders can start in a sitting position and graduate to standing. The large front rocker stops the nose from dipping and improves the buoyancy of the board.
This board has a maximum weight limit of 150 pounds, so your child won’t outgrow the board as they progress.
- Material: Polymer Foam
- Length: 122 cm
- 119 cm, Easy stable ride for kids
- System 80 core
- Full spine
- 4x4 molded fins
- 2 bolt on 1. 9” center skater fins
This is another wakeboard designed for beginners. It has four molded fins to provide a stable learning experience and two additional bolt-on fins.
It has a full spine and comes with Optima boots for sizes between 1 and 4.
Along the base of the board are rails that increase the grip, and it has a 3-stage rocker for better lift and landing, for when your child graduates to performing stunts and tricks.
- Material: System 80 Core
- Length: 119 cm
- MONOCOQUE CONSTRUCTION - Integrating the top glass and the bottom glass into one. Generating a more durable board on side impacts to prevent delamination.
- LAYERED GLASS - Our fiberglass is available in 3 weights depending on the board. Over time, traditional woven glass fibers will separate. With layered glass every Hyperlite deck will have the same pop off the double up year after year.
- CONTINUOUS ROCKER - The rocker line that started it all. Speed and fluid predictable pop truly define this rocker. Designed to carry great speed into the wake with minimal drag, a Continuous rocker generates a longer trajectory with similar pop every time.
- BOOTS SIZE K12-2 BOYS
- V BOTTOM TUNNEL, FORGIVING 6 DEGREE EDGE BEVEL, M6 INSERTS
This Hyperlite board is a monocoque construction, meaning the top and bottom fiber-glass layers are integrated to give strength to the side impacts to prevent delamination.
The board has a continuous rocker, by far the smoothest design, which allows greater lift when performing tricks. Also, landings should be smoother, and the board will glide more efficiently. It also means the board will gather speed quicker.
This model comes with a boys boot sized K12-2, and it has a v-bottom tunnel and a 6-degree beveled edge.
- Material: Layered Fiber-glass and Polymer foam
- Length: 119 cm
- 1 Rider
- 70 lbs. weight capacity
- 46 long x 31 wide x 13 high (inflated)
- Engineered for stability while towing (10 mph maximum)
- Removable body board for more advanced body boarding behind the boat
This trainer board is easily the most user-friendly and designed for the very youngest wakeboard pupils. This trainer board is the one I would choose if I took my children to the lake.
It inflates, so it is comfortable to ride, has deep foot-well grips and it doubles as a bodyboard and kneeboard.
The maximum towing speed for this model is 10 MPH, which is still adequate to create a decent wake behind the boat.
It’s brightly colored to be visible in the water, and when you are done, it deflates for easy storage.
- Material: Plastic
- Length: 117 cm
Once you have decided on a wakeboard, the next thing to do is to purchase the accessories for storage and safety.
- 15 in. double-density EVA PHAT GRIP handle
- High strength aluminum core, 4 in. finger protectors and foam floats
- Low stretch 16-strand 30-filament rope with 5 ft. handle bridle and three 10 ft. take-offs
- 6 in. TPR covered aluminum handle for spins and inverted tricks
- Rope Keeper is included
Airhead boat rope is low stretch, 16-strand rope with a 5 ft bridle and three 10 ft take-offs.
The attached 15-inch handle is coated in EVA PHAT GRIP for the ultimate in non-slip protection, and it comes with its own rope keeper.
- Extra storage pockets
- Fits wakeboards up to 147 cm with bindings and extra gear.
- Shoulder and handle strap
We talked about caring for your wakeboard earlier, and one of the best things you can do is invest in a storage bag. This one fits wakeboards to a maximum size of 147 cm, including the bindings and additional gear.
It has extra storage pockets and side and shoulder straps for easy carrying. Nothing protects your board better than a specially designed bag. It keeps your wakeboard safe when in storage and from damaging UV rays that fade and delaminate the fiber-glass when you are at the lake.
- Super comfy Sweat saver halo water liner constructed with three foam layers wrapped in plush fabric
- Velcro removable Sweat saver halo for easy washing Care
- Dual-density closed cell EVA foam headliner and top crown
- High-density ABS outer shell. Ideal for Kayaking as well
- Meets CE EN 1385-2012 water sport standard
Safety should never be underestimated, and with this specially designed helmet, you get protection against blows to the head.
It’s lightweight, has drain holes to stop the helmet filling with water and a dual-density EVA foam headliner and crown.
The construction is an ABS polymer, which is durable and will withstand the rigors of watersports.
- PROTECT YOUR PRECIOUS BOARDS FROM ACCIDENTS! – If your skateboards, E-Foils or surfboards are lying around in your garage or storage room, they can be easily damaged. But with the Krypt Towers wall mounted storage rack you can protect them and keep them in perfect condition!
- ELEVATE THE DÉCOR OF YOUR EVERY SPACE! – Now you can safely store and proudly display up to 4 of your favorite surfboards, skateboards, water skis, sandboards, snowboards, wakeboards, kneeboards or E-Foils ! Add a unique touch of surfing style to your bedroom, living room, garage or game room now!
This wall mount is fully adjustable and can hold a maximum of four boards. It has padded rubber edges to the fingers to protect against scratches and damage.
The frame is heavy-duty steel, so it can take the weight of surfboards, wakeboards, in fact, every type of board you can think of. The important thing is that your wakeboards are stored off the ground and away from damage.
Wakeboarding is incredibly rewarding, especially when you finally master the art.
Zipping across the lake at speed, riding the wake, performing turns and tricks is exhilarating. So hopefully, this article has given you a little bit of knowledge about the basics of wakeboards and wakeboarding, and it has whetted your appetite to explore the sport more and get involved.
Whichever board is right for you, whichever rocker, length or design, get out on the water.
Fall in. Get wet. Learn. Pretty soon, you’ll have this thing licked and will be a pro.
Mark Weir lives on a canal boat in the heart of England, with his wife, Julie, and his grumpy dog, Eric. Mark likes to travel the waterways in his wide-beam barge, filming his exploits as he travels. Julie paints the wildlife, and Eric likes to bark, mostly.