Wakesurf Board Types: The Difference Between Wakesurfing Longboards and Surfboards
The Benefits of Riding Different Wakesurf Board Types
A guide to choosing the right wakesurf board. How does a longboard differ from a shortboard, and what kind of rider are they best suited for?
Wakesurfing is one of the many wonderful ways that we can get stoked on the water. It’s best described as a combination of surfing and wakeboarding. In wakesurfing, the rider trails behind a boat and surfs in its wake, which is the wave produced by the boat. Like wakeboarding, a wakesurfer uses a tow rope to get up—they then release it to mimic traditional surfing style.
Most people that wakesurf will tell you that it's easier to learn than wakeboarding. It’s also less demanding on the body because you aren’t attached to a board by boots or continually holding onto the rope. You have to make certain, though, to ride the right board for your style and ability. Read on to learn about different wakesurf board types and their advantages.
What Is a Wakesurf Board?
A wakesurf board is a board that is designed specifically for riding in the wake of a boat. Visually speaking, they look like miniature surfboards. They are made in a wide range of shapes and sizes that accommodate various body types and rider styles. The three typical wakesurf board types are:
- Shortboard (aka skim style)
- Longboard (aka surf style)
- Hybrid (a combination of the two)
Wakesurf boards fall into two primary construction methods: compression-molded and composite. Compression-molded boards are made by applying fiberglass to two mold halves, putting them together, and filling the complete board with polyurethane. Composite boards feature an EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam core that’s sealed with either fiberglass or carbon fiber.
Features and Advantages of a Wakesurfing Longboard :
Wakesurfing longboards are the most common wakesurf board types out there. As the name suggests, they resemble the traditional surfboards that you see at the beach, albeit in a smaller format. They generally have a thick profile, wide centers, and large volume, all of which help to increase buoyancy and stability.
These features make the board user-friendly (beginners included) and easy to catch waves on. Advanced riders enjoy this board style because of the ability to generate speed fast. Riders also have the potential to perform maneuvers, such as cutbacks and airs, at high speeds.
Many wakesurfing longboards come fitted with a thruster fin setup, which is a three-fin configuration that works well in almost all waves. The central fin increases stability while the outer fins aid in building speed. As the fins are detachable, it’s possible to change the configuration to ride with a single or twin fin setup.
Features and Advantages of a Wakesurfing Shortboard :
Wakesurfing shortboards are shorter and thinner boards that are geared toward performing tricks behind the boat. These boards have less surface area than longboards, which means they sit lower in the water and are less buoyant. They are lightweight and respond quickly to the movements of the rider.
Another notable feature is a lack of channeling on the board’s bottom deck. This reduces tracking (when a board remains on its trajectory) and generates a slippery sensation on the water. It’s this slipperiness that lets the rider spin, slide, and pull skateboard-style tricks in the wake.
The most common fin setups on wakesurfing shortboards are single and thruster. Some advanced riders even prefer to go finless for increased looseness on the water.
Shortboard vs. Longboard: Which Wakesurf Board Type Is Best for Beginners?
Several factors can influence which style of wakesurf board is best for you. They include your surfing experience, body type, the wave you'll be surfing, and your surfing style.
If you are just starting out in the surfing world, you’ll want a board that’s easy to get up on and catch a wave on. The large size and stability of a wakesurf longboard make it ideal for this. It's also versatile enough to go from cruising endlessly in the wave’s sweet spot to eventually incorporating turns. The increased buoyancy also means they work well for heavier beginner riders.
Wakesurf shortboards are usually the board of choice for advanced riders wanting to practice and hone 360s and other rotation tricks. Their smaller size means that you’ll need to work harder to generate the speed required to stay in the wave’s pocket. That said, if you fall into the lighter weight category or are looking for a board for a child, then the skim style could be easier to handle.
Choosing Your Wakesurf Board Type :
The key to finding the right wakesurf board is to take your time. Be sure to ask friends that are already wakesurfing and chat with the experts. If possible, rent and try some different models until you find the one that you feel most comfortable riding.
See you in the water!