Originally called "skurfing", wakeboarding was created in Australia and New Zealand in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Developed through various channels and under different names, these "surf skis" began to grow in popularity. In 1989, the World Skiboard Association was founded, and the first world championships were held. By 1991, as the term "wakeboarding" gained more usage, HO Sports launched the world's first compression-molded boards that helped introduce the sport to a much wider audience. The Hyperlite wakeboard featured a neutral flotation that allowed easier starts and made wakeboarding more accessible.
Today, the sport of wakeboarding is part of the X Games. The advances in design have created a world where incredibly exciting maneuvers are the norm. Whether lifting off the wake behind a properly outfitted and weighted wakeboard boat or catching a rail while riding a cable at the park, wakeboarding provides the adrenaline rush sought by thrill seekers everywhere. As always, our goal at Overton's is to provide you with not only the boards and equipment you need to get on the water, but also give you the information you need to make the right choices when purchasing your gear. As you look around our website you'll find answers to customer questions as well as informative videos to help with your search. This guide is also provided to help you get started in the right direction and open the door to the exciting sport of wakeboarding.
Wakeboards are all about excitement. Their designs are similar to snowboards with a lot of the same characteristics as surfboards, skateboards, and skis. While there are many similarities in wakeboard designs, there are also a lot of differences in rocker, shape, and bottom design. Experience and ability are important factors in determining which wakeboard is right for you and your family. When beginning your search, it's important to know who will be riding the board and what the riders' skill levels are.
Today's beginner wakeboards have been improved to the point where they can be ridden by a wider range of riders. They're designed to help beginners develop skills and progress quickly. Most beginner wakeboards have a deeper center fin that gives the wakeboard a tighter feel, making it more stable and user-friendly. Wider tip and tail sections also promote stability and can help you launch off the wake. The raised center rail also helps disperse water on landings making the landings smoother. Beginner wakeboards usually feature a continuous or subtle 3-stage rocker for predictable pop off the wake with softer landings.
Overton's has some excellent beginner wakeboards packaged together with a wakeboard handle, rope, and bindings that are perfect for anyone interested in getting started in the sport of wakeboarding. Following are links to some of our favorite wakeboard packages: Men’s Gladiator Matrix Package, Women’s Gladiator Bliss Package, & Junior Gladiator Matrix Package.
Intermediate riders have progressed to mastering the toe-side/heel-side edge, jumping wakes, and working toward their first tantrum or heel-side 540. The construction of the intermediate wakeboard is a little lighter so it's easier to spin or throw around. Sharper edges or rails will help the intermediate use the edge more effectively and keep it from slipping on hard cuts. A little more rocker will give crisp pop off the wake resulting in more height on the jump.
Overton's offers lots of options for intermediate riders, geared to push them on to the next level. Following are links to some of our favorite intermediate wakeboards: Men’s Hyperlite Tribute Wakeboard, Women’s Liquid Force Angel Wakeboard, & Junior O'Brien Hooky Wakeboard.
Moving up to whirlybirds and mobes takes a board with advanced riding characteristics. Advanced wakeboards are constructed with special core materials like carbon fiber that make the board stiffer for more speed on the water. These wakeboards are also much lighter so they get more air and are easier to maneuver. Some advanced boards have fins only on the outside of the tip and tail. This makes the board looser but with a faster wake release. Many different bottom designs are also used to make the board track better and feel looser or tighter on the water. Progressive 3-stage rockers lead to abrupt launches with lots of air. It seems every pro has his or her own opinion about how to make a wakeboard perform the way they want it. For this reason a lot of the signature wakeboards are geared to specific riding styles.
Overton's offers wakeboards designed by the best riders in the world. We've listed several below to help you match these top riders to their wakeboard.
Rocker is the curve or shape of the wakeboard from tip to tail. If you place a wakeboard flat on a table and view it from the side, you can see the board's rocker. The style and amount of rocker determine much about a board's performance. The amount of rocker varies between 2" and 2.5". More rocker makes it easier to spin the board on the water and helps soften landings, but it also makes the board ride lower with less speed. Rocker helps to keep you from burying the tip of the wakeboard when you approach the wake or ride in rough water. The rocker also helps the board transition up the wake when you're looking for liftoff.
A smooth curve all the way through the board is called a continuous rocker. Wakeboards with a continuous rocker generally deliver a fast, smooth ride with easier turns. Beginner and intermediate boards often use a continuous rocker because of the smoother ride. However, a lot of pro level boards use a form of the continuous rocker because of the soft landings from bigger jumps.
A wakeboard with a flat spot in the middle of the rocker line has a 3-stage rocker. This type of rocker provides crisp pop off the wake with more height on jumps, but less distance than a continuous rocker. This huge pop is delivered when the flat spot under the feet crashes into the wake. When the air takes you out into the flats, you'll notice the board doesn't land as soft as one with a continuous rocker.
There are a lot of variations to these types of rocker with characteristics that can match up well to different riding styles. Some of these variations are listed here.
Fast and smooth with a predictable pop. Generates a long trajectory with consistent pop every time. Less explosive than a 3-stage rocker.
The exaggerated tip and tail rocker creates good pop without losing speed into the wake. A little more kick than the continuous rocker.
Flat spot in the center of the board with an abrupt curve in the tip and tail delivers vertical pop off the wake with a looser feel on the water. Explosive with big air. Slower and not as consistent as the continuous rocker. Landings are not as smooth.
The flat spot in the center of the board is smaller, but still delivers enough vertical pop so you know it's there. Great for riders moving up to a 3-stage riding style.
Combines the characteristics of the continuous and 3-stage rockers. One profile extends through the middle of the board, while the other shapes on the edges for a distinct feel on the water. Rides fast with a smooth release and explosive pop off the wake. Harder landings than the continuous rocker.
Flat through the midsection with the tip and tail turned up twice. Rides fast and predictable with more kick off the wake. Hard landings when coming off big air.
Wakeboard edges or rails determine how well a board turns. Generally, the sharper or thinner the edge, the better it will hold when making a cut. Thinner rails allow the board to sit deeper in the water during a turn, keeping the board from slipping out on hard cuts and giving the rider more control. A less stable rider that's unsure of his cuts and turns might want a thicker rail to avoid "catching an edge" on a cut.
The bottom or base of the wakeboard has several shapes and designs that affect its feel and performance. Channels are grooves in the bottom of the board, while the raised areas are molded-in fins. Channels and molded-in fins direct the flow of water underneath the wakeboard, providing directional stability and helping the board edge. Wakeboards with large molded-in fins can be ridden "finless" by removing the bolt-on fins. If you ride a board finless it can break loose easily, so the rider needs to be able to hold an edge using just the board's profile. Some boards have bigger molded-in fins at each side of the tips to help hold the board during hard turns. Channels also help get the board pointing in the right direction during deep water starts and help the board recover when landing aerials.
Large fins and multiple fin configurations are more common on older boards. When the sport began, riders were more concerned about riding in a straight line and stability on landings. As the sport progressed, slides and spins became more popular, and multiple fins became a hindrance. Today's wakeboards rely more on channels and ridges to provide control without losing the ability to spin and slide. However, fins are still an important factor. Tail fins sit deep in the water and help keep the board from sliding out under the rider. Fins also aid in straightening out the board when landing a jump. Fins generally range from 1.5" to 2.25". Beginning riders will want larger fins for their added stability. Larger fins are also helpful for riders looking to land aerial maneuvers. Riders that are more interested in surface tricks should use smaller fins. Bolt-on fins can also be easily swapped out, so keeping an extra set of fins that are a different size will give you options for rough water days as well as varying maneuvers.
Wakeboards are constructed around an injection-molded high-density polyurethane foam core that's wrapped with fiberglass, carbon/graphite, or some combination of these. These surfaces are covered with an epoxy resin. Layers of carbon/graphite or fiberglass mat may be added to provide stiffness to different areas of the board. Top and bottom layers of PBT or Acrylan are added and heat pressed into a mold to give the board its shape.
Materials used in construction affect both the performance and the price of the wakeboard. High-end pro wakeboards are often made of carbon/graphite that's stronger, lighter, and more expensive than fiberglass. Some boards have plastic or laminated wood strips embedded in the core for extra stiffness. Aluminum honeycomb has also been used in the core for its light weight and stiffness, but these boards are much more expensive to manufacture.
Wakeboard boots or bindings have come a long way in the last few years. Bindings were once difficult to put on, often requiring a lubricant to let you slide your foot into the binding. Advances in binding designs have brought new styles that are more comfortable with a better fit to the board and are much easier to put on.
Beginner wakeboards usually feature basic, open-toed boots that are fully adjustable so they can be used by multiple riders. Since they're adjustable, they are fairly easy to get on. Foam footbeds and heel cups are comfortable and hold your foot in place. A lace or Velcro closure system allows you to make the boots as tight or loose as you want.
Midrange to high-end wakeboard boots are less adjustable and made to a specific foot size. These bindings offer a tighter, more secure feel with better board control. High-end boots most often have closed toes which lock your feet in and help transition your lift to the wakeboard. They usually offer more ankle support and have contoured footbeds for a better fit and better control. High-end boots also tend to be more durable and lighter, so they don't weigh you down.
The hinge binding has become a popular style of boot because they are very easy to put on and take off. The rear entry system lets you slide your foot in, then the binding closes around your foot for a better fit and connection to the board.
New removable plate-style bindings like the Hyperlite System Pro Bindings are especially popular with cable riders. These bindings allow you to remove the boot from the stabilizing plate that stays attached to the wakeboard. Cable riders can easily pop their boots off the board for the walk back to the launching dock.
The wakeboard size is the overall length of the board from tip to tail, usually measured in centimeters depending on the manufacturer. Which size wakeboard to ride is usually determined by the rider's weight and the speed of the boat. If it's going to be ridden by a group of people, it's best to go with the weight of the heaviest rider. Most wakeboarders ride between 18 and 24 mph. Wakeboarders who ride faster can go with a smaller board, while slower riders might consider a larger board. The rider's ability is also a factor, as more experienced riders prefer shorter boards that are easier to maneuver for advanced tricks. The size chart below provides general guidelines for the wakeboard size based on the rider's weight.
|Rider Weight||Board Length|
|Up To 130 lbs.||126 - 133 cm|
|130 - 150 lbs.||132 - 136 cm|
|150 - 175 lbs.||133 - 140 cm|
|175 - 190 lbs.||136 - 143 cm|
|Over 190 lbs.||139 - 147 cm|
The width of the wakeboard is measured at the widest part of the board, across the midsection. A wide wakeboard will get more pop off the wake, but loses some edging ability since the rider's foot is further from the edge. This is especially true for lighter riders and the reason most women's and kids' boards are a little narrower.
Cable parks are becoming an increasingly popular option for wakeboard riders. If you ride at a cable park, you want a board that is both durable and flexible. If you hit rails and sliders with a normal wakeboard, you'll more than likely damage your wakeboard and possibly cause serious injury to yourself. Cable park boards have an extra durable base sometimes called a grinder base and tough ABS sidewalls that are designed to handle scraping on rails and sliders. They're also made of more flexible materials so they respond better to tricks.
When choosing a cable park wakeboard, you may consider getting a size larger because the pull is typically slower than what you experience behind a boat. One last thing about riding at the cable park, you should always wear a wake helmet.
Overton's has everything you need to get on the water and start wakeboarding. Following are some recommendations for you to consider when selecting the right gear.
The handle with mainline is the essential link between the wakeboarder and the boat. Wakeboard handles are typically a little wider than waterski handles. This helps with handle passes during tricks. You'll also want a handle that's lightweight with an extra sure but comfortable grip.
Mainlines are made of non-stretch material and often coated to prevent knots. Ropes can vary in length but are usually around 65' to 80'. Most mainlines come with "takeoff" loops for quickly and easily adjusting the length. Beginning riders that are learning to jump wakes will use a shorter line so they are riding closer to the boat where the wake isn't as wide. As riders progress, they can lengthen the rope and ride further away from the boat where they can pop off the full wake.
A quality wakeboard bag is important for protecting your wakeboard and making it easier to carry. Storing your wakeboard in a protective case could add years to its life.
Creating the perfect wake for wakeboarding often requires help by adding weight to specific areas on your boat. The best way to add weight and achieve a proper wake is by adding ballast bags to the boat. Wakeboard ballast bags are designed to efficiently fit specific areas on the boat, so you can fine tune the wake to certain shapes and heights. Ballast bags should be sturdy and have a valve system that fills and drains quickly and easily. Overton's offers a great selection of quality ballast bags for helping you get the most out of your wake.
Wakeboarding is an exciting adventure where the sky is definitely the limit. We hope this information has helped in your search for your next wakeboard, bindings, and other equipment. If you need more information or help in any way, please contact us. You can call 1-800-334-6541, email us from our contact page, or use the Overton's Web Chat for live online help from our technicians. We'd love to hear about your on-water adventures and want to help in any way. We hope you have your best season ever and achieve new heights as you hit the wake.