2016 Water Sports Gear Guide: Wakesurfers

Surfing style, body type, and size of wake matter most when selecting a wakesurfer.

Hunter SimsO’Brien

Wakesurfers remain the fastest-growing segment in all of watersports, which means there are more options than ever when it comes to boards. With all these different styles and shapes, you might be wondering where to even start when choosing your first or next surfer. The first step is determining what kind of surfing you like most. Do you prefer to sit deep in the pocket and carve and slash the wave, or are you more concerned with ollies, shuvits and tricks off the lip? Another factor in choosing a board is your height and weight, along with what size wave you plan to ride regularly.

Lastly, will only you use this board, or will it be shared with your friends and family when you’re all out in the boat? When heading out to purchase a new surfer, use the above criteria along with these few technical points to guide you.

Get Familiar: WakesurfersBrandon Williams

Surf-Style Boards [FIG. 01]
These boards take inspiration from their ocean-bound surfboard cousins. They tend to have multiple larger surf-style fins and a thicker construction, which makes them more buoyant. Their high buoyancy makes them a great choice for larger, heavier riders and some beginners. The larger volume also provides more drive and push on the wave, so they perform well on smaller boat waves.

Skim-Style Boards [FIG. 02]
Skim-style boards are shorter, with a thinner profile and smaller fins. While anyone can ride these boards, they tend to be more suited to advanced surfers looking for a loose, more playful feel, who like to pop shuv-its and ollies. Smaller, lighter riders also can be well-suited to skim-style boards, because they don't carry as much speed and won't have surfers riding into the swim platform.

Hybrid boards are a combination of surf-and skim-style boards and have become increasingly popular. They have the speed and push of surf-style boards but the playful maneuverability of skim-style boards.

As in wakeboarding, rocker is the curve profile of the board and a big factor in how fast the board rides. Boards with more exaggerated rocker lines push more water, resulting in a slower ride, but tend to maneuver easily. Flatter rocker lines have less drag, resulting in a faster ride across the water.

In surfing terminology, rails are the edges of the board, and their shape determines how a board will track and turn on the wave. Sharper rails are more responsive and turn more quickly, while rounded rails have a more relaxed feel and turn more slowly. Most wakesurfers have a combination of sharp and rounded rails placed strategically.