Don't feel bad; we all do it. You're browsing in a wake shop or sporting goods store, looking at boards, and all you're really doing is deciding which graphic looks the coolest. But while you'll get bored with even the best-looking deck after a few weeks, picking up a board that perfectly fits your skill level and ride style will keep you smiling on the water all season.
Board Body Part 1: The Rocker
A wakeboard's rocker is simply its curve from front to back. Lay a board upside down on the ground, and you'll be able to see how much rocker it has by how high it bows up in the middle. More Rocker: This gives the board a looser feel and enables the rider to make jumps more easily. Less Rocker: A flatter board gives much more control and gives a faster ride.
Board Body Part 2: The Fins
Fins provide direction to your riding and, depending on your typical water conditions and style, they have a big impact on the feel of a board. Long Fins: Better for boarding in rougher water because they provide better hold on the water. Short Fins: Suited for calmer water, short fins create less drag, making quick maneuvers easier. Bolt-On Fins: Some boards offer customizable fins and fin extensions, allowing riders to customize their ride and even lengthen a fin to help a weak-riding side.
Board Body Part 3: The Width
Many riders pay attention to board length when shopping, and for good reason. A board that's too short or long can negate quite a bit of skill. But board width plays an important role, as well. Narrow Boards: Narrower boards slice through the wake much more easily and are thus much faster. Wide Boards: Wider boards do a better job of pushing the rider up and provide much more lift for inexperienced or heavier riders. More width also allows the board to be a little shorter than normal, enhancing control.
Board Body Part 4: The Hull
Every aspect of a board's construction influences its ride in some way. Here are a few popular hull features and their advantages. V in the Hull: When checking a board's rocker, the more V-shaped the hull, the softer landings will be.
Late Bend: If the very end of the board bends up, it aids a rider in popping out of the water. The later the bend, the more explosive the pop. Deep Tunnels: Tunnels on the bottom of a board are great for helping beginners track across the water. More advanced riders tend to hate deep tunnels, though, because they add a lot of friction. Single-Tip Boards: Wakeboards that are more pointed in the front and squared in the back, called single-tip, feel closer to a surf board or water ski, so riders proficient in those sports might feel more comfortable on this style.