Wakesurf Board: What Is It Exactly?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  08.02.2023
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Wakesurf boards are becoming increasingly popular, but many are still confused about what EXACTLY they are.

Wakesurf boards are designed to be pulled through the water by the boat’s wake, creating a surf-like feeling for the rider. The boards consist of rockers which part comes in contact with water, tail shapes, fin setup to produce control, and rail design for responsiveness and buoyancy.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about wakesurfing boards, from the different types to how to choose the right one for you.

What is a wakesurf board

Everything You Need to Know About Wakesurf Board Design

Rail Design

The rails of your wakesurf board are like the edges of a coin – they can make or break your experience. Thinner rails are more responsive and provide a quicker turn and more speed, while thicker rails are more stable and require more pressure to initiate turns. A thicker board will also have more volume and be more buoyant.

Rocker Lines

Rocker lines are the curvature of your board when it’s placed on a flat surface. This determines how much of the board is in contact with the water. Less rocker is better for small, weak waves, while more rocker is great for large, powerful waves.

Tail Shape

The tail of your board can make a huge difference in how you ride. Different shapes are best for different waves, so make sure you choose the right one for your needs.

Fin Setup

Fins are often overlooked, but they can have a big impact on your ride. Different fin setups provide different levels of control, lift, and drag. Consider your size, ability level, riding style, and wave size when choosing a fin setup. Here are some of the most popular options:

  • Single Fin: Acts like a rudder and gives riders stability and control, but makes quick or sharp turns difficult. Ideal for big waves.
  • Twin Fin: Fun and has a lot of hold, but can feel loose and makes big turns at high speeds difficult. Best for small waves.
  • Thruster: The most popular option. Outermost fins are for speed, while the middle fin is for stability and control. Easy to maneuver.
  • Quad: Fast and loose. All about zipping down the line and riding big waves. Allows for control with more speed than a center fin.
  • Five Fin: Gives you the best of all three worlds, but riding on all 5 fins is not recommended since it will slow down the board. Best for really big waves.

Compression Molding

Compression molding is the process of shaping your board by pressing it between two molds. This is the most popular method of manufacturing boards, as it ensures a consistent shape and quality. It also allows for intricate details and designs to be added to the board.

Choosing the Right Surfboard for Your Skill Level

Size Matters

When it comes to surfboards, size really does matter! A bigger board will make it easier to get out of the water, but it can be harder to control for newbies. On the other hand, a smaller board will require some skill to master, but it’ll let you conquer any wake once you do.

Shape Up

The shape of your board can make a big difference in how it feels on the wave. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular tail shapes:

  • Narrow tails: These will sink the board into the water, giving you more traction to turn, but can make the board feel slow.
  • Wide tails: These will help lift the board out of the water, giving you more push and helping you accelerate.
  • Rounded tails: These are great for smooth turns and carving.
  • Chopped tails: These are great for quick turns and spins.

Length Matters Too

Your height, weight, skill level, and surf style will all determine the length of your board. Generally speaking, bigger riders need longer boards, while smaller riders can get away with a shorter board.

If you’re into surf-style riding, a longer board will help you generate speed and control those long, powerful turns. But if you’re looking to throw some tricks, a shorter board will give you the traction and immediate response you need for spins and shuvits.

For newbies, it’s best to opt for a shorter board with a good amount of surface area. This will help you get out of the water and control the board on the wave. But if you’re a more experienced rider, you can make any board length or style work for you.

The Science Behind Surfboard Rails

Harder Rails

If you’re looking for a board that can carve and spin, you’ll want to go for the harder rails. Think of them as the sharp knives of the surfboard world – they’ll cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. But if you’re a newbie, you might find these rails a bit too sharp for your liking.

Softer Rails

If you’re looking for a smooth, consistent ride, then softer rails are the way to go. These rails are more rounded, so they won’t dig into the water as much as the harder rails. That means less drag, but also less control when you’re trying to throw tricks or powerslide.

Thicker Boards

Thicker boards are great for surf-style boards because they keep the board floating on top of the wave and help generate speed. Plus, they make you feel like you’re not fighting the wave.

Thin Boards

Thin boards are great for skim-style boards because they give you more control. They’re light and maneuverable, but don’t expect to be going too fast on smaller waves.

What is Rocker?

The Basics

When you place a wakesurf board on a flat surface, you’ll notice that the nose and tail have a slight curve. That’s the “rocker line” and it’s what determines how much of the board actually touches the wave.

Relaxed vs. Aggressive Rockers

Relaxed rockers (less curve) will keep more of the board in contact with the water, giving you speed and a stable ride. Surf-style boards usually have relaxed rockers, so if you’re riding a smaller wave, this is the way to go.

On the other hand, aggressive rockers (more curve) will push more of the board out of the water, making it easier to carve and throw tricks. Skim-style boards usually have aggressive rockers, so if you’re riding a taller wave, this is the way to go.

Continuous vs. Staged Rockers

Continuous rockers have a slow, gradual curve from the nose to the tail, giving you a smoother, more consistent ride. Staged rockers, on the other hand, have distinct changes in shape at the nose, midsection, and tail, making it easier to turn quickly and throw tricks.

In Summary

When it comes to rockers, here’s the deal:

  • Relaxed rockers = more contact with the water = speed and stability
  • Aggressive rockers = less contact with the water = easier to carve and throw tricks
  • Continuous rockers = smoother, more consistent ride
  • Staged rockers = easier to turn quickly and throw tricks

Understanding Fins and Their Impact on Surfing

Single Fins

If you’re looking to throw some tricks and skim the waves, a single fin is your best bet. They’re usually shorter, so they’re not ideal for quick turns or gaining speed, but they’re great for taller waves.

Twin Fins

Twin fins are popular on surf-style boards and great for riders who want to make some sweeping turns and get some speed going. If you’re riding a smaller wave, this is the setup for you, since the foil shape helps you generate speed when you swing the board back and forth.

Thrusters (Tri Fins)

Thrusters are the perfect balance between single and twin fins. You’ll get a good mix of speed and stability, so you won’t feel like you’re stuck in the wave.

Quad Fins

If you’re looking for more speed, quad fins are the way to go. You won’t have a central fin to slow you down, but you might feel a bit wobbly under your feet. Best for bigger waves.

Five Fins

Five fins are a thing, but it’s not recommended. All those fins in the water will act like an anchor, making it hard to move and slowing you down. However, if you have a board with a five fin box, you can experiment with different setups until you find what works for you.

The Basics of Wakesurf Board Construction

Compression-Molded Boards

Compression-molded boards are like a sandwich, but way more delicious. They’re made by taking two mold halves, slapping some fiberglass on them, and then smooshing them together with a generous helping of polyurethane. Another way to make ’em is to layer up some bamboo, give it a nice coat of polyurethane, and you’re good to go! These boards are tough and affordable, but they ain’t the lightest.

Composite Boards

Composite boards are like a burrito, but way more stylish. They’re made by wrapping fiberglass or carbon fiber around an EPS foam core, creating a lightweight and performance-friendly board. The only downside is that they come at a higher cost and aren’t as durable as compression-molded boards.

The Perfect Board?

Ah, the age-old question: is there such a thing as the perfect board? Well, the answer is a resounding “maybe!” It all depends on your surf setup and what kind of waves you’re riding. So if you’re looking for the perfect board for your perfect waves, hit us up and we’ll help you find it!

The Different Types of Wakesurf Boards

Surf Style Boards

Surf style boards are the perfect way to get your feet wet in the wakesurfing world. They are super stable and buoyant, making them great for beginners and advanced surfers alike. With these boards, you can make huge slashes, get some air for ollies and aerials, and generally have a great time on the water. Some of the best surf style boards on the market include the Itasca Quad and the Superior Long Board.

Skim Style Boards

Skim style boards are the go-to choice for surfers who want to do some tricks. These boards are thinner and less buoyant, making them ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers. They also have shorter fins, which help with maneuverability and allow you to do surface or continual spins. The Vermillion Skim is a great example of a skim style board.

Hybrid Surf Boards

Hybrid surf boards are the perfect choice for those who can’t decide between the two styles. These boards let you do tricks and surf, so you can have the best of both worlds. Not the best choice for beginners, as these boards are more difficult to learn on, but if you’re up for the challenge, the Hyperlite Broadcast is a great option.

Surfing Fun for Kids

The Perfect Board for Groms

Surfing is a blast, but it can be hard to find the right board for kids. That’s why manufacturers have created smaller boards specifically designed for the little ones. Whether they’re just starting out or ready to take their skills to the next level, these boards will help them stay on the water and have a blast!

Pepin Skim Style

This board is perfect for beginner and intermediate groms. It’s thin profile makes it easy to flip up and get going, and the 2″ center fin provides plenty of stability. Plus, it’s designed to give them the confidence to progress and have a great time.

Razor Quad Surf Style

For the bigger kids or more advanced surfers, the Razor is the perfect board. It has a bit more buoyancy than the Pepin, so they can carve, slash, and launch off the lip with ease. Plus, it’s designed to help them take their skills to the next level and have a blast!

Have Fun and Stay Safe

Surfing is a blast, but it’s important to make sure kids stay safe. Make sure they wear a life jacket and get proper instruction before they hit the waves. That way, they can have a great time and stay safe.

Essential Accessories for Wakesurfing

Safety First

Safety is always a priority when it comes to wakesurfing, so it’s important to have the right accessories to make sure you’re having a safe and enjoyable time. Here are some of the must-haves for any wakesurfer:

  • Wakesurf Rope – Don’t skimp when it comes to safety! Invest in a wakesurf-specific rope that’s 20-25 feet long. These ropes have smaller handles, so you don’t have to worry about your body parts getting tangled up. Plus, they’ll help you get to the perfect spot on the wave.
  • Board Bags and Socks – Wakesurf boards are more fragile than regular surfboards, so it’s important to protect them from dings, cracks, and UV rays. Look for a bag or sleeve that’s easy to clean and use, and make sure it has handles and straps for easy transport.

Organization is Key

Having the right accessories can help you stay organized and make sure you have everything you need for a successful wakesurfing session. Here are some of the must-haves for any wakesurfer:

  • Board Bags and Socks – Not only do these protect your board from damage, they also make it easier to transport and store your board. Plus, they’re great for storing extra fins, life jackets, board shorts, sunblock, and other small items.
  • Storage Containers – Invest in a few storage containers to keep your gear neat and organized. This way, you can easily find what you need and make sure you don’t forget anything.

Have Fun!

Wakesurfing is all about having fun, so don’t forget to add a few fun accessories to your collection. Here are some ideas:

  • Floating Cooler – Keep your drinks cold and your hands free with a floating cooler.
  • Floating Speaker – Get the party started with a floating speaker that will keep the music playing all day long.
  • Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from the sun and look cool while you’re at it.

How to Pick the Perfect Wakesurf Board for You

The Basics

So you want to get into wakesurfing, but you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Choosing the right wakesurf board can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll break down the basics so you can make an informed decision and get out on the water in no time.

Size Matters

When it comes to wakesurfing, size really does matter. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to look for a board with plenty of volume (buoyancy) to help you stay afloat. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced rider, you’ll want to make sure you don’t get a board that’s too small for your size and ability.

Choose Wisely

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to make a decision. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect wakesurf board for your skill level and riding style:

  • If you’re a beginner, look for a board with plenty of volume (buoyancy).
  • If you’re an experienced rider, don’t get a board that’s too small for your size and ability.
  • Choose a board with the right shape and features for your riding style.
  • Consider the size and weight of the board when making your decision.


Now that you know how to pick the perfect wakesurf board for you, it’s time to hit the water and have some fun! With the right board, you’ll be shredding waves in no time.

And don’t forget, when it comes to wakesurfing, it’s all about overcoming ‘BOARD’om and having a great ride!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Kauai Surf Report is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new sports with everything surfing at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2019 to help loyal readers with surfing and water sporting tips.