Wakeboarding is an extreme sport performed on water.
Wakeboarding was invented around the 1980s. Initially, it used to be known as Skurfing. The sport was originated in Australia and New Zealand. Initially they used binding- less, hand shaped boards for towing. The first wakeboard was called Skurfer and it used to look like a surfboard with pointed nose, rounded pin surfboard like fins. In 1983, Howard Jacobs created several wakeboards by mounting wind-surfing foot straps and partial hydro slide-pads on smaller surfboards. He shaped such surfboard first with added sophistication.
Cable park and boat wakeboarding
In the world of wakeboarding, there are two common ways to get pulled around over water: behind boats and with cables.
Cable parks can be easily compared to skate parks, as there are ramps (we call them kickers) and rails and other obstacles to ride over. It is often easier to learn and do tricks on the cable because the pull is straight and consistent, and the speed usually runs a bit slower than a boat.
Suspended in the air by a series of towers (or masts) surrounding a small lake, an overhead cable rotates in a (usually) counterclockwise motion around the lake. Along the cable are a number of carriers from which ski ropes will attach to and pull a rider or skier around the lake. Basically, cable is ideal for riders who have limited or no access to a boat. Cableways are clean, efficient, quiet, and overall, very environmentally friendly.
Boat riding is probably how you know wakeboarding: pack a bunch of friends in a boat, take turns getting a pull on the rope attached to the back, hit the wake as a kicker, and everyone has outrageous fun. The boat allows the rider to express more personality and individuality in the ride. One of the main differences is that a wakeboarding boat will be specially designed to create large wakes for riders as they cross back and forth behind the boat. Wakeboarding boats have inboard engines that are placed in the rear of the boat, near the transom. Known as “v-drive” engines, the engine placement allows them to create a larger wake.
Wakeboarding, as a water sport, is all about tricks and flips; a powerful wake is what makes that happen. The wake of the boat is actually used as a ramp, from which the rider can launch him or herself into the air.
But the engine isn’t the only feature that helps a wakeboarding boat create large waves. Most wakeboarding boats also feature water ballast tanks that help weigh the boat down. The ballast tanks can be automatically filled with water or emptied to help regulate weight. Most wakeboarding boats also feature a device called a wedge, which is a piece of metal that’s located behind the propeller and helps shape the wake. In general, the hulls of all wakeboarding boats are specially developed and designed to facilitate large and dramatic wakes.
Cable Park Wakeboards
The obvious difference between a boat wakeboard and cable park board is the flex. Cable park boards will have lots of flex on the tip and tails allowing you to press a box or lock in on rails. They also will absorb your flat landings in the park. The next big difference is the base. It will hold up better against all the rails and boxes because it is made to be more durable. Most times you will find that the molded fins on the base are very small or non-existent. The majority of Cable Park Wakeboards should be ridden without fins. Expect less traction if you’re not riding with fins.
In most cases boat wakeboards will have a Polyurethane core construction and be considerably reinforced around the center of the board to create stiffness. The reason for this is so the board can maintain its shape and ‘pop’ over time for longevity.
There is definitely models that fall mid way between the 2 categories, but over the years they have become less and less common with most major brands ruling them out as viable models. This isn’t to make you buy 2 boards, but more so because you would be sacrificing something that would benefit your boat riding to gain a slightly better cable feel, whether it be stiffness, grind base or sidewalls.
Wakeboard Rocker and Riding Style
A specific bending on the board from head to tail is called Rocker. Broadly there are five types of wakeboards depending on the rocker design.
- Continuous rocker
- Hybrid rocker
- Three-Stage rocker
- Five Stage rocker
Continuous Rocker Wakeboards
A continuous rocker has one fluid, curved shape. Wakeboards with continuous rocker provide fast, smooth rides and allow you to link together turns more easily. You can generate a lot of speed on a continuous rocker wakeboard. Speed and a very predictable pop (height) when you hit the wake will shoot you farther out into the flats. Continuous rocker wakeboards are great for carving, especially on those flat, glassy mornings.
3-Stage Rocker Wakeboards
Now that you have seen what the continuous rocker has to offer, lets go over what a 3 Stage wakeboard rocker is and has to offer. The 3 Stage wakeboard rocker was initially developed when wakeboarding wakes started to get bigger. This rocker type provides more pop off the wake than a traditional continuous rocker, which makes it extremely ideal for riders who prefer wake to wake style tricks. The downside of this type of board is it’s speed. Due to the shape, a 3 Stage rocker has less surface area in contact with the water, which makes it rider a little bit slower. Some of the 3 stage wakeboards that we love are the Ronix Vault and Slingshot Pill. Both of these boards are geared towards boat riders and can accommodate intermediate to advance riders.
5-Stage Rocker Wakeboards
The five-stage rocker profile gives the rider an extra straight-up kick off the wake without the braking effect of a traditional abrupt three-stage bottom curve.
Hybrid or All Terrain Wakeboards
Hybrid rocker wakeboards (as the name implies) combine characteristics of both the continuous rocker and the 3-stage rocker wakeboards to blend the best of each into one shape. These are going to be for your boat rides on the weekend and cable days during the week type of board. Each hybrid is unique and no two hybrids will ever feel the same. This board is a happy middle of the aforementioned rocker types, allowing for big wake or ramp hits with smoother and more forgiving landings. These boards normally have a stiff center with a more flexible nose and tail allowing for wake hits and rail presses. The perfect, go-to-board for those active riders that have access to a boat and cable but only want one board to do it all.
The most recently introduced wakeboard profile, camber takes it’s inspiration from classic ski and snowboard shapes. Camber allows you to ride more centered than a continuous or 3-stage rocker line and totally changes your weight distribution on the water. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised once you get the hang of it!
Wakeboards Bottom Design
This is where shapers play. You can have wakeboards with channels, concaves and flat section in all possible combinations. Every setup has a different function for instance – Concaves create lift and make the wakeboard sit higher in the water. That’s not all, it is also important where on the wakeboard the concaves are. Channel on the other hand act like fins, they direct the flow of the water under the wakeboard and make it hold its direction better. If the bottom is completely flat the tip, tail and width of the wakeboard determine hoe the wakeboard will ride.
Fins are a type of wakeboard components which are fixed below the board and act as a pair of grips which inhibits the flow of water during the travel. Fins are responsible for the controlled forward movement of the board during the travel.
The configurations as well as the placement of these fins are done according to the rider’s preferences.
Based on the type of tricks the player performs, different types of fins are changed. The usage of the fins make it easily maneuvered. The more closer the fins are to the center of the board, the quicker and better the board sits and moves on the water.
Wakeboard Fin Placement and Size
Deeper or longer fins create a more stable ride and reduce your ability to break the board free for surface tricks…actually, any tricks. Beginning riders often benefit from longer, deeper fins when they start riding. As you advance you may want to break the board loose with less effort by removing fins or selecting a board with less traction. A higher quantity of fins or fins placed near the outside edges of the wakeboard will be more effective. Cable park boards often have no fins at all, for spins, for tricks, and for safety.
Removable vs Molded-In Wakeboard Fins
Removable wakeboard fins can be unscrewed and removed from the wakeboard while molded-in fins are glassed into the wakeboard and do not come off. Many wakeboards have molded-in fins toward the outside and removable fins closer to the center. Molded fins are more durable on sliders. Removable fins give you more options to change the feel of your ride and to be compatible with cable park use.
Check fin screws regularly to make sure they are securely attached to your wakeboard. The fins and their screws do not float. When you nick your removable fins, don’t fret; you can sand them out or purchase new fins, or ride without them.
Types of Wakeboard Fins
Some of the wakeboard fins are described below −
Long based fins − These kinds of fins release better and give the board a smooth feel while riding flat on water. These fins hold up well on ramps and rails.
Moulded fins − These fins look like big channels and hold up against rails and ramps. These are more slippery as compared to other types.
Multi-finned set-ups − These kind of fins capture the maximum aggressiveness trough and in to the wake.
Canted side fins − These kinds of fins are leaned at an angle. They stay inactive while the board travels flat. But when the rider starts leaning on the edges, these fins help the board holding up more. These kinds of fins provide hard edges.
No fins − Some riders prefer to go with finless boards in case of a board specially designed for the cable parks and other uses.
The binding are used to hold the rider’s feet in position during the travel. Those are connected to the board and the players need to put their foot in it. While the rider rides up the wake, the energy of the wake makes the rider airborne where the rider performs different tricks. These tricks vary from basic to advance.
Mostly two types of binding are used by the players which are − Open Toe binding and Closed Toe binding. The open toe bindings look mostly like shoes with broad size and better toe movement whereas in case of closed toe binding, it brings more responsiveness to the board while moving the toes.
This gives your toes some breathing room. A big benefit of open-toe boots is that you may be able to squeeze a few more shoe sizes into an open-toe boot than you can into a closed-toe boot. Open toe boots are a good option if you are purchasing just a single board for your boat, or if you have kids who are still growing.
Closed-toe wakeboard boots offer a more precise fit, which allows for more control, increased leverage and quick heel to toe responses and can also keep feet warmer, which is a big plus during shoulder seasons in places like the Northwest. Finally, they are usually higher end models and can be more expensive than their open-toe counterparts.
When trying boots, make sure you’ve cut your toenails!
Whether a binding is flexible or stiff, keep in mind that with enough pressure and riding it will become more flexible. If you’re a rider with full access to a boat or season ticket, you might ride often which causes a binding to become more flex in a short period of time.
Liners soften up and will have a more comfy fit after a period of riding, just break those puppies in!