Ride Waves With the Best Boat Wakeboards for Adults and Kids
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 snow 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 origins 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 adrenaline 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 surfboard/wakeboard 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 they're 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). 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're performing jumps, turns, and lifts.
Rocker ShapeRocker 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 reduce drag, increase lift and act 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 MaintenanceOnce 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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. It has a v-bottom tunnel and a 6-degree beveled edge.
- Material: Layered Fiber-glass and Polymer foam
- Length: 119 cm
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 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.
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.
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 fiberglass when you're at the lake.
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 from 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.
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 and, 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 and performing turns and tricks is exhilarating.
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.