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Wakeboards, wakes and lingo

In previous columns, I’ve discussed the types of board and their designs including most of the options you can choose in each style from wood core flex style to true composite compression molded boards. So now, let’s look a little more closely at what makes the wake. It all starts with a massive amount of R&D from the boat manufacturers. The hull of the wake boat is designed to influence the character of the wakes it makes. There are a lot of boat makers in this business, including AXIS, Centurion, EPIC, Malibu, Mastercraft, MB, Mooba, Nautique, Supra and Tige, to name a few. So how do we find out which has the biggest and best wakes to ride? Just because a certain pro rider is behind a boat doesn’t mean it’s the best; it just means the manufacturer offered the rider a good enough deal to become a team rider and use their boats. Just because a boat has a big V8, tower and a ballast system, doesn’t mean its necessarily a great boat.

Most of the companies make a full line of sizes and, generally speaking, a larger boat will make a larger wake. The more of a “V” in the hull, the better the surf wake. The weight put into the hull sinks the boat and forces the wake size to increase (more water equals more weight; the lower the boat in the water equals bigger wake). The boat has to be weighted properly for wakeboarding or surfing. Some factory ballast systems will provide adequate wake size; however, some do not. The way the boat and its engine handle the weight, as well as its ability to turn around quickly and reach riding speed again, is a big telltale sign of what kind of boat it is. When you are running at wakeboarding speed with full ballast, turn the boat hard to make a 180. If the boat begins to “chin walk” or hop the more you turn it when you return to your bubble line, that’s a sign of a flaw in a wake boat. If it turns on a dime and quickly accelerates, returning to its set speed, that’s a good sign of its R&D and performance. The shape of the wake at speed, its pitch and transition are key in determining whether it will “boot you” like you hit a wall or treat you nice and mellow for take off and re-entry on the other side.

Note other performance characteristics, too, such as: How does the wake wash when the rider pulls against the boat? How well does the cruise control hold its speed? How fast will the ballast system fill and empty? Can you easily add extra ballast to the existing system? How easy it is to use the wedge/trim tab or whatever wake refinement tool the manufacturer uses; do they even have one? All of these questions and tests will help you decide what makes the best boat for you. For some, it may just need to be a red boat and have a loud stereo. Who knows? But if you want to really enjoy the sport, you should investigate the abilities of the boats. Look at all the pros and cons to make a well-educated choice on which one will work best for you and your family. See you on the water. sd