Many riders and people curious about wakeboarding ask, “What size wakeboard do I need?”
It can be a simple or complex question to answer, depending on your preferences. There are straightforward guidelines, but getting the perfect fit can take more consideration.
Regardless of how serious you are about your board, picking the right size is easy with the right knowledge.
What Size Wakeboard Do I Need?
The right wakeboard size for you will primarily depend on your weight. However, your height and your riding style may also influence the formula.
Each wakeboard design has a certain size of riders in mind, and they usually come with guidelines for sizing. If you’ll be sharing a wakeboard with others, it’s generally best to base your decision on the heaviest rider. However, you may also want to prioritize the riders who’ll use the board the most.
It’s worth repeating that weight is the biggest factor in sizing a wakeboard. There’s nothing more disappointing than a wakeboard that can’t keep you afloat properly because it’s too small.
So, when you find yourself wondering, “What size wakeboard do I need?” the first step toward your answer is weighing yourself.
General wakeboard sizes
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Since buoyancy is a pretty straightforward law of nature, the basic formula for choosing the right size wakeboard is simple. There’s a generally recommended wakeboard length for each weight class.
Wakeboards have standard measurements listed in centimeters rather than inches or feet. You don’t need a tape measure or anything, as wakeboards in the store always have their measurements on display.
Sizes are more like ranges. A “step” up or down in size will be around 5 centimeters or 2 inches. However, the smaller increments in between make a difference.
Normal wakeboard sizes start around 130 centimeters. These boards are appropriate for riders who weigh between 90 and 150 pounds. If you weigh between 130 and 180 pounds, you’ll want a board of 135 to 140 centimeters.
From 140 to 145 centimeters you find boards suitable for riders of 170 to 250 pounds. That is the largest standard size. Here’s an example.
If you weigh more than 200 pounds, you may want to look at extra-long wakeboards. Similarly, riders under 100 pounds are best off with children’s wakeboards no longer than 130 centimeters.
Since no two human bodies are identical, basing your decision on weight alone isn’t ideal. It’s best also to consider the manufacturer’s specification guide for the specific wakeboard you want.
You’ll typically find this information on the label or product page. Otherwise, you can check the manufacturer’s website.
Does height matter?
Next, it’s important to factor in your height. While there’s a common misconception that it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect flotation like weight does, that’s forgetting something important.
Height affects balance. The taller something is, the wider its base must be to prevent it from toppling over.
Although a wakeboard for the right weight will keep you afloat regardless of your height, you’ll probably have a harder time staying upright if you’re tall. And if the front of the board goes under, you crash.
Similarly, you can get away with a short board if you’re on the shorter side, as long as it’s long enough to keep you afloat. That can give you better maneuverability for tricks and a more fun boarding experience.
Now, if you’re taller than average, you’ll also want to have the bindings further apart. That will give you a more stable base and better balance.
How to size a short wakeboard
The question of “What size wakeboard do I need?” requires us to look at the arguments for choosing something shorter or longer than normal. It’ll influence the feel and handling in distinct ways.
Going for a shorter board can make advanced riding easier. Depending on the shape, it can reduce your speed significantly since there’s less area of contact.
More importantly, shorter boards spin more easily. Also, the smaller size means less resistance and therefore better handling in the air. On the other hand, smaller boards require a better landing technique.
Since there’s less surface area, they sink more. And since there’s less horizontal stability, there’s a higher risk of nosedives. These pros and cons aren’t tremendous. So, it’s more about finding your preferences.
It’s best to not jump all the way to the bottom of your recommended range. Instead, try to find a happy medium. If you really like the feel of your short wakeboard, you can move on to an even shorter one.
How to size a long wakeboard
Stability and buoyancy increase with the length of your wakeboard. Therefore, going for the long end of your range is a good idea if you’re a beginner or casual wakeboarder.
On the other hand, long wakeboards are heavier than short ones. So, it takes more to maneuver them – especially in the air. However, the larger surface area makes landings easier, and you’ll move faster through the water.
What Size Wakeboard Do I Need at My Ability Level?
There’s a close relationship between sizing and developing your style and skills. Using the best beginner wakeboard for you will help you hone your skills. If you look at famous riders, many of them are at the ends of their recommended ranges.
For example, Parks Bonifay famously rides “oversized” boards, while Shawn Watson likes to ride on the short end. It’s a matter of finding your personal ideal.
When you’re new to wakeboarding, an oversized board can be helpful. However, staying in the middle also has its benefits – especially in the long run.
Plus, manufacturers constantly find new ways to improve their designs. With lighter, more durable materials, they can build boards that weigh less without being smaller. Therefore, the rules of yesteryear don’t always apply.
Overall, smaller boards give you more freedom but require more skill. At advanced levels, you may need to go shorter to land complex tricks. But if you’re still learning, it’s generally wiser to trade that extra spin for better stability.
Bigger boards usually mean smoother riding and fewer crashes. There’s less of an impact when you land, and the wake won’t jerk you around much. But you’ll have a harder time with handle pass flips and tricks in general.
What about shape?
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“What size wakeboard do I need?” is only one part of the question if you want an ideal fit. Different shapes also affect performance and difficulty levels.
As long as you get a board of sufficient size, you can ride any shape. However, you’ll find that some feel better to you than others.
While people often speak of “beginner shapes” and “advanced shapes,” that gives an incomplete picture of how they perform. There’s no reason for relatively new riders to avoid “advanced” shapes, and some experienced riders may do better with a “beginner” board.
What matters most is that riding feels fun, because that’s when you stay inspired and experiment and develop your skills. You can always try a different one later, and your preferences may change.
If you’re just starting out, looking for a wakeboard in the beginner-intermediate class is best. Typically, these designs are affordable and have a gentle three-stage rocker profile.
If you’re looking to upgrade to something more playful and aggressive, you’re more likely to prefer something like this.
In the intermediate-advanced class, you’ll find more diversity in the board designs. So, you’ll want to be extra careful about the size and shape and make sure that you understand what the features do.
If you’ve already developed an arsenal of tricks you can comfortably pull off, you’ll probably want a pro wakeboard like this one. They have aggressive rockers, often three-stage or continuous designs.
While they aren’t very forgiving, they let you juggle horseshoes and harsh inverts and generally play around more. Getting inspiration from pros and their signature boards is a good idea, but any advanced-expert wakeboard should work pretty well for you at this stage.
Why Getting the Right Size Wakeboard Is Crucial
Now, we’ve covered the nuances of the answer to “What size wakeboard do I need?” While it’s true that there's generous wiggle room and many factors to explore, proper sizing is still essential.
Yes, sizing up or down can unlock new styles and improve the general feel. However, that doesn’t mean you can just go with any old board. Nor does it mean that you should pick something extreme because someone else did or told you that it’s good.
If your wakeboard is too big
Too much is better than not enough, but taking things too far will cause problems. Yes, this applies to "What size wakeboard do I need?" You’ll have a harder time moving side to side, and fast moves may become impossible.
As soon as you get into the air, you’ll feel the additional weight and wind resistance from the larger surface area. Tricks become very difficult, and you may even have a hard time staying upright.
If your wakeboard is too small
If you go with something shorter than the recommendation for your weight, you will sink. Even if you can stay afloat for a while, a small jump or a quick turn will be enough to bring the board under and send you crashing.
Even at the low end of your recommended range, you may find that the board is too slow or digs into the water more than you’d like. So, don’t go straight for the low end of the range without easing your way there.
Why Getting the Right Size Wakeboard Is Crucial
No two bodies are the same. Manufacturers aim to make boards that work for as many people as possible, not to work ideally for a handful. Therefore, a perfect fit may require a custom wakeboard build.
The difference can be huge. So, if you’re serious about wakeboarding and have money to spare, consider a custom build.
The Bottom Line
Getting the right size wakeboard is important for a good time on the water. While there’s no exact science to sizing your board, following the guidelines will ensure a good match.
Let’s repeat the basics so that you don’t have to wonder, “What size wakeboard do I need?” Your weight, height, and skill level all influence the equation.
Longer boards are generally easier to ride, but shorter ones are more playful. Check out our best wakeboards for beginners to get more information for new riders.
Follow these guidelines when you pick your wakeboard, and you’ll have tons of fun behind the boat. Want more tips for great days on the water? Keep browsing our posts. And if you have any great tips for newbies, share them with our readers in the comment section below!