Don't worry if you've never heard of a wakeskate before – you will. Wakeskating is the growing trend on the water among the young (and young at heart), and a great alternative when normal wakeboarding has lost its luster for the day. A wakeskate is basically a small wakeboard sans bindings, covered with some kind of foam padding for foot grip. Since it rides much like a skateboard on the water, it can be a good teacher for learning surface tricks, edging and balance. But the real hook is that wakeskating is a lot of fun.
Although several companies (like Hyperlite and Fresh Water Traction) make excellent production-model wakeskates and wakeskate accessories, it's not a bad idea to look at your old wakeboard for the same purpose. All it takes is a few tools and some time to transform the outdated deck into a new toy.
Here's how we did it, along with some steps you should follow to do the same.
Cut Down – A good wakeskate should be symmetrical from tip to tail, although using an old directional-style board isn't out of the question. The main thing is to cut the board down to 128 centimeters or less, so it's easy enough to handle. That means measuring the board overall, and then figuring where you'll have to make the cuts to produce the best shape. Be sure the cuts are straight and clean (starting from the underside of the board) and that you don't cut off so much that you lose all the rocker off your board. There should be a little bit of concave bend when you look down the side rails of the board with the top facing toward you.
Shape – Once you have cut off the tip and tail, cut out some of the foam on the top of the board at each end. You should shave it back about 1 inch, in a 45-degree angle from the cut. This will allow the epoxy you put on the ends to get a firm grip. Cut away any jagged edges left over from the saw and make sure the stringer, channels and/or phasers are smoothed out.
Seal It Up – Get some marine-grade, two-tube epoxy solution to seal the water out of your new skate. One 4-ounce tube should cover both ends. Mix the epoxy and spread it evenly along the cut and shaped ends. It's important to take your time and spread the epoxy down so that it really adheres to the foam – any leaks in a wakeskate can cause it to get heavy and sink in the water, ruining the ride.
Polish It Up – Give the epoxy about 24 hours to harden, and then use some coarse (80-grit) sandpaper to work on smoothing those edges. The smoother the edge, the better the performance, and the less chance of a nasty nick if the board hits you when falling. (And you will fall.)
Grip – Depending upon how you want to ride, this is the most crucial aspect of building your own version of a wakeskate. You can just go for the conventional non-slip grip that marine stores sell for boats or get more inventive by slipping in extra foam on the ends to build “kicker” pads for more advanced tricks. Some people use Astrodec – the stuff surfers cover their surfboard tails with – and some just buy heavy foam from the hardware store. Whatever your choice, make sure the material is durable and snugly secured to your board.
Fins – There's no need for big surf fins on a wakeskate, since you probably won't be landing any huge inverts where tracking is in high demand. (If you do, send us a picture!) Wakeskating is all about quick little maneuvers, so your fins should be the same – little and quick. Try some 1.25-inch ramp- or A-tac-style fins to get best out of your new board.