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Ultimate Guide to Wake Surfboards

Wake surfing is seriously gaining popularity, and it's clear to see why. This method of wave riding provides surfers with a skill-building pastime for when the ocean takes a breather, and is a wondrous style of surfing for those who live a bit inland and don't make it to the coast as much as they'd like. If you're looking into this watersport as your next hobby in conjunction with surfing, then you're going to need a wake surfboard.

So let's get into the different styles of wake surfboards currently available, their benefits, and what type of board is best for you!

What is Wake Surfing?

Wake surfing and wakeboarding are closely related, as both require a wake created by a boat, yet maintain definitive differences which set the two apart.

In wake surfing, compared to wakeboarding, the rider stays locked into the pocket of the wake much closer to the boat, and it does not require a rope as wakeboarding does. The power of the wake alone keeps the board afloat, whereas a wakeboard requires the pull of the boat to promote speed and momentum.

The rider is strapped into the board with wakeboarding, whereas a wake surfboard does not feature bindings for the feet.

With this, the wakesurfer has a free roam to maneuver the wakesurf board in a manner similar to skateboarding and surfing. You can perform shuvits, aerials, surface spins, and of course, the good ol' hacks and smacks on the lip to replicate surfing. However, the style of wakesurfing and the styles of tricks you can perform depend on the wake surfboard you choose, as each maintains a unique wave-riding personality.

The Wake Surfboard

There are four main types of Wake Surfboards that you can choose from: the skim style board, the surf style board, hybrids, and a wake foil surfboard.

Skim Style Wake Surfboard

A skim-style board is shaped more like a skimboard than a surfboard. They are slightly difficult to get the hang of, as they lack buoyancy and stability, but on the positive side, this creates one of the most maneuverable and versatile of wake surfing surfboards. They are small in length yet relatively wide, featuring a generally flat rocker and thin rails.

They are straightforward in terms of bottom contours, as they are generally shaped with flat bottoms. The flat bottoms of these boards make it so that the wakesurfer can spin the board on the water's surface for surface spins, shuvits, and pops off the lip.

Compared to the other wake surfboard shapes, a skim-style board isn't as ideal for hacks and carves on the wake. However, that doesn't mean you can't throw some buckets, as skim-style wake surfboards sometimes feature a small single fin to add a touch of extra hold.

A skim-style board with a small trailer fin is better for hacks, whereas finless skim-style wake surfboards are ideal for spins and skateboard-inspired tricks.

A skim-style board is better suited for experienced surfers, skimboarders, and wakesurfers with a knack for balance, and is less ideal for those new to the sport. Beginners will have a much easier time getting the hang of wakesurfing with a surf-style wake surfboard.

Surf Style Wake Surfboard

A surf-style wake surfboard is more like a standard surfboard than a skimboard. Like an ultra-short shortboard, these surfboards are designed to fit perfectly into the pocket of the wake, a better choice if you like to surf off the rail, for wrapping quick turns, and still good for boosting airs.

Because they are similar to shortboards, this style of wakesurf board allows for a lot more customization in terms of contours, fin set-ups, rocker, and shape outlines. And speaking of rocker, a surf style board will feature more rocker than a skim style for an easier time turning on the lip without pearling.

A surf-style board will have a lot more volume and buoyancy, as the rails are much thicker, promoting stability and creating the feeling of more speed on the face. With this stability, a surf-style is an excellent choice of beginner wake surfboards for those looking to get into this watersport and for experienced surfers who want to replicate and practice surfing.

If you're looking for a wake surfboard for big guys, then a surf style is the way to go, thanks to the overall increase in volume to keep things nice and buoyant.

These boards come in a variety of fin setups, most commonly twin and quad, for a looser feel on the wave.

Hybris Style Wake Surfboard

A hybrid style wake surfboard brings out the benefits of both the skim style and surf style boards, a 'meet in the middleโ€™ style of wakesurf board.

Shaped like a big skimboard (but with thicker rails and a touch more buoyancy), and with small fins comparable to a surfboard, these boards create a surf-like feel that is still playful like a skimboard.

Great for turns on the lips and also for skimboard-like surface spins and tricks, although a touch more difficult due to the hold of the fins, these are some of the most versatile wakesurfing surfboards.

For beginners, this is better than a skim-style board but not as easy as a surf style. We suggest a hybrid wake surfboard for experienced riders looking to bring out the best of both worlds.

Wake Foil Surfboard

As well as the three most common wake surfboard styles, the wake foil surfboard is slightly new to the scene but is taking it by storm. A wake foil surfboard is different from a foil surfboard meant for the ocean, as they are better suited for the higher speeds created by the boat.

When riding, the foil keeps the board hovering about two to four feet above the surface of the water. This floaty feel is rather euphoric, and many wakesurfers actually compare this feeling to riding powder on a snowboard and less like the feeling of surfing.

You don't need a huge wake to stay lifted on a wake foil surfboard, and this is great for boat owners who don't have a boat made specifically for watersports.

Ideal Wake Surfboard Conditions

The best part about wakesurfing is that the conditions don't need to be as glassy and flat as they do for wakeboarding. With that being said, there are ideal conditions for each style of wake surfing surfboards.

A skim-style board is best for glassy conditions, as this makes surface spins and tricks easier to perform. If it's a little choppy, then the additional hold of fins with a surf-style board will come in handy and further promotes stability. Hybrids work great in nearly all conditions.

A wake foil surfboard, because the board is not on the surface of the water, will glide right through the choppiest of conditions, perfect for glassy days and bumpy days alike.

Nonetheless, you're going to need some form of wake to ride these boards, so a boat is always required.

Wake Surfboard Buyers Guide

If you have a boat or a close friend with a boat, and you're looking to get into wakesurfing, keep a few things in mind when browsing for your next shred stick.

The best beginner wakesurf surfboards are surf style boards- nice and stable, a lot less 'slippery' on the face, and the perfect choice for die-hard surfers looking to practice their surfing during flat spells.

Skim-style wakesurf boards require a good bit of balance and board control and are excellent choices for experienced surfers, skimboarders, and wakesurfers. If you want a playful board that is like skateboarding on the water, similar to skimboarding, then this is a go-to choice. Progressing into a skim style is much easier once you have dialed in your skills on a beginner wakesurf surfboard.

Hybrids are perfect choices for intermediate to experienced riders, a great board choice to utilize after mastering a surf style and before progressing into a skim style. For a little bit of everything behind a wake, this is the epitome of wakesurf fun.

A wake foil surfboard is a completely unique feel, and even experienced wakesurfers need time practicing this flying, floaty style of wakesurfing. So no matter what your skill level is, these surfboards are a joy to ride, but you might have to practice a bit of patience before you really get the hang of it.

All styles of wake surfboards are very much like proper surfboards. There is an unlimited combination of designs you can incorporate... concave's, tail shapes, rockers, outlines; the possibilities are endless, and your best boards are usually going to go to be custom made just like a surfboard.

So next time you are looking for a new experience, check out wake surfboards online of your liking, find a friend with a good boat that produces a nice size wake, and hit the lakes, oceans, or rivers near you and get radical! Check out the Board Engine to find your customizable board today.