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Wakeboard Buyerís Guide

Purchasing a wakeboard is a process thatís made infinitely simpler with the right information. You need to know what kind of board you want to purchase, as theyíre designed for specific riders, uses and styles.

Wakeboarding is a sport with unorthodox origins. It is a hodgepodge of sorts. It combines elements from many different sports, both land and water-based. And the resulting creation is one thatís been adopted by a legion of loyal riders. Other people, after being exposed to wakeboarding for the first time, gravitate toward it. What gives wakeboarding its appeal? Thatís a question best left for the people that participate in the sport. But, if youíre ready to make an investment and purchase your own wakeboard, then thereís plenty for you to know before you make a purchase.

How do boards work?

The board enables the rider to perform a variety of tricks and stay atop the water with ease. Theyíre fabricated to be naturally buoyant. Additionally, they will come with built-in bindings in order to attach to the rider. Thatís the basic wakeboard design.

Internally, their cores are typically constructed of foam or a resin mixture thatís coated with fiberglass. One of the most important characteristics of a board is its fins. These can drastically influence the behavior of a board when itís in the water. The number of fins, as well as their size and positioning, all contribute to the boardís maneuvering. A board with a large fin, for example, will behave drastically different than a board without one. A smaller fin will allow a rider to perform surface tricks because it protrudes into the water less, which subsequently reduces drag. Lastly, long fins will grip a wake better than their counterparts. The downside to this is that it will be harder to break away from the wake.

The impact of board size

You must understand how size impacts a boardís traits. While you want to make sure the board youíre on physically fits you, you should also understand how the proportions of the board are going to play a role in your riding.

Riders that utilize a large wakeboard will typically experience a smoother and slower ride. This is because, due to its size, the wakeboard creates a large amount of drag when itís in the water. Proportionately compared to a smaller wakeboard, boards of the larger variety will not be as maneuverable or agile as their counterparts.

A small wakeboard is ideal if you want to ride aggressively and quickly. It will allow you to do tricks, cut quickly and generally stay high atop the water. However, landing tricks and stability will become an issue. This is generally not recommended for new riders as itís accompanied by a fairly significant learning curve.

Board width should also be considered when shopping for a board. Wide boards will sit higher off of the water. Subsequently, tricks will be easier to perform with wide boards, but agility will be sacrificed.

Wakeboarding terminology you need to familiarize yourself with:

Edging: This technique is used to navigate in and out of the wake. In order to perform a job, you must thrust yourself toward the wake, launching upward.

Pop: This is the term used to denote how much air a rider gets during a trick. The more pop, the higher the rider goes in the air.

Rocker: Used to describe the bend in a wakeboard. Essentially, the rocker will dictate what a board is shaped like. A continuous rocker goes from tip to tail, giving the board a fluid bend. A three-stage rocker has two easily identifiable bends. The former makes the board smoother and faster, while the latter allows the rider to push more water in front of the board. A three-stage rocker is typically preferred for tricks, as it allows the rider to build more lift prior to takeoff.

How can a board influence the ride?

Every single facet of the board contributes to how it rides. From fins to rockers, each design element plays a role in everything you experience on the board. Having a hard time releasing from the wake? That can be improved by tweaking the design of the board. Having a hard time getting air for tricks? Again, thatís a result of how the board has been fashioned.

Even the bottom of the board Ė something that may be an afterthought for many buyers Ė will impact the ride. A flat, featureless board will give you a balanced experience. However, a board with channels in its underbelly will give you better grip of the wake. Minor features like that have a major impact on the ride.

A guide to wakeboarding tricks

Once you become more adept on a wakeboard, the next natural progression is to start doing tricks. After youíve gotten this far, youíre going to need to know how to talk the language. Here are a few terms that you should familiarize yourself with Ė if for nothing else Ė to sound authentic:

Air Raley: The rider extends into the air, body parallel to the water, and then swings the board back down on the other side of the wake.

Melon Grab: The front hand grabs the heel-edge between the feet.

1080: This requires three complete, 360-degree rotations. Many consider this to be the hardest trick of them all.