Determining What Size Wakesurf Board you Need
We’ve all heard that old wakesurf board adage: Size Matters. Okay fine, maybe that didn’t originate from the world of wakesurfing. But when it comes to wakesurfing, having an appropriately sized board for your size, weight, and surfing ability is going to have a huge impact on your wakesurfing experience. In this article, we’ll break down how to determine the right size board for you (and your other surfers), explain the different size aspects of wakesurf boards, and present a simple wakesurf board size chart for your quick reference.
Why Wakesurf Board Size Matters
Determining what size wakesurf board you need is paramount to having an enjoyable wakesurfing experience. The length, width, and volume of the board are going to significantly affect how the board rides the wave, including the board’s:
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- Speed and reactiveness. This affects how quickly you can accelerate through and along the wave.
- Natural ability to stay in the wave. This affects how hard you have to work to stay in the sweet spot of the wave, as well as how difficult it is to move forwards and backwards in the wave.
- Turning radius and “carvability.” Certain boards will be easier to keep in a straight line, whilst other, “squirellier” boards are easier to turn quickly on the spot.
- Resistance to nose diving. When getting started with wakesurfing, there are inevitably going to be plenty of nose dives. Wakesurf board size plays a role in helping to mitigate nose diving, which may be less fun for spectators, but more fun for the surfer.
We’ll get into how the different size characteristics of wakesurf boards affect these performance characteristics later on, and how you can use them to determine the best wakesurf board for you.
The Two Key Wakesurf Board Size Metrics, Explained
When it comes to determining the size wakesurf board you need, the first thing you need to determine is the shape of the board you want. The size board you need varies depending on the shape you choose. Check out this article to help you determine the shape you want: Surf, Skim, or Hybrid.
Once you’ve chosen the wakesurf board shape you want, it’s time to determine the board size you need. This comes down to looking at two different size characteristics: Length and Volume. Length is the main one as it is the biggest driver of Volume and other metrics such as Surface Area, even though width and thickness are definitely factors in those as well.
With that in mind, let’s explore these two size characteristics individually.
Wakesurf board length is the tip-to-tail size measurement of the board. It is the most important size characteristic to consider when purchasing a new wakesurf board. Length affects nearly all the performance characteristics of a wakesurf board, as outlined in the table below.
The Effects of Wakesurf Board Length
|Effect||Shorter Boards||Longer Boards|
|Maneuverability||Easy to maneuver and spin||Better for straight line riding|
|Nose Dives||More likely||Less likely|
|Stability||Less stable||Very stable|
|Ideal Rider Ability||Intermediate – Advanced||Beginner|
|Ideal Rider Size||Any, but ideal for shorter and/or lighter surfers||Any, but ideal for larger and/or taller surfers|
Given that there are so many effects of board length on board performance, the best place to start with determining the wakesurf board size you need is to look simply at surfer weight. From there, you can opt to lean towards the longer or shorter end of the range based on some of the other factors listed above.
Wakesurf Board Size Chart
Use the Wakesurf Board Size Chart below to determine the wakesurf board size that you need based on the weight of your surfers.
Wakesurf Board Size Chart
|Surfer Weight (lbs)||Surf Shape||Hybrid Shape||Skim Shape|
|< 110||< 4’||< 4’||< 4’|
|100-170||4’0” – 4’8”||3’9” – 4’8”||4’0” – 4’4”|
|150-200||4’8” – 5’0”||4’8” – 5’3”||4’4” – 4’10”|
Given this as the baseline, let’s work through an example. Say that you determine you want to buy a Hybrid Shape board, and that most of your surfers are in the range of 160-185lbs. This puts your target board length in the range of 4’8”-5’3”. However, this is still a 7” range where a 5’3” board is 13% longer than a 4’8” board. Which way do you lean?
Well, if your riders are relatively new to wakesurfing, you likely want to opt for the longer end (5’0”-5’3”) of this range. A longer board will give them better balance, more control, an easier time standing up out of the water, and make it easier to stay in the wake as they learn to surf without the rope.
The volume of a wakesurf board is going to dictate how buoyant the board is. The higher the volume, the more weight the board will be able to support, and the higher the board will ride on the water. The volume is how much space is inside the shell of the board, meaning that it is determined by the combination of the board’s length, width, and thickness, as well as its shape.
The more volume a board has, the better it is for bigger surfers. The reason is that it has more buoyancy to keep heavier surfers riding on top of the water, making it easier to carve on the board, maintain the power of the wave, and avoid nose-diving. As mentioned, the volume of a board is most heavily dictated by its length.
There is no hard and fast rule to what volume is needed for a given surfer’s weight, as board shape and length play a role. But when you shop for wakesurf boards you will typically see the volume and the corresponding surfer weight that it supports.
In addition to being ideal for bigger surfers, more voluminous boards are better for small wakes. If your boat produces a small, less powerful wave, this will make it harder to stay in the sweet spot of the wave. Using a more voluminous board will make it easier to accelerate forward in the wave and therefore stay in that sweet spot.
Now for the Fun Part
Once you understand how different size parameters affect wakesurf board performance, it’s time for the fun part. Buying a wakesurf board!
We’ve found the best place to buy all your wakesurfing gear is Evo.com. They have a huge selection, powerful filtering so you can find exactly what you’re looking for, as well as great product descriptions and superb customer support. Plus, if you’re looking for a deal, you can often find a bargain on some of last year’s remaining inventory.
Looking to do more research before making a purchase? Check out our guide to The Best Wakesurf Boards for more information and our specific product recommendations.