Buyers Guide: Surf vs. Skim Style Wakesurfing

| Captain AWS

Surf vs. Skim Style Wakesurfing

New to wakesurfing? Trying to decide which board is best fit for you? As a new wakesurfer you have a plethora of options to choose from. Wakesurf boards are offered in all different shapes and sizes giving the rider freedom to choose which style they like best. When choosing a board it really comes down to three questions. Who is using the board? What type of wave are you surfing? What kind of surfing do you want to do? Do you want a quicker, more responsive board? Are you looking to land your first 360 or do you want to just cruise with minimal effort? Let’s take a look at the board styles to help you decide.

Skim Style

Skim style wakesurf boards typically are shorter, have thinner profiles, symmetrical shapes from tip to tail and little to no channeling. The shallow profile of skim boards creates less surface area, causing the board to sit lower in the water. This deep profile gives the board more edge control and allows the board to react quicker to your movements. A symmetrical shape gives the rider the option to ride the board forward or backwards, opening up the possibility for skateboarding tricks like spins, shuv its, big spins, etc. With minimal channeling on the bottom of the board, spins are made easier since the water has nothing to track to. Lastly, skim boards usually have a flat rocker profile and shorter fin profiles, making a board that is not only responsive, but playful as well. Skim style boards are usually compression moded using a certain type of fiberglass or form and some of the more advanced boards even implement carbon fiber to decrease board weight. People who prefer the skim style usually like a longer, less steep wave which allows the rider more room to perform tricks. A wave with a gradual grade offers skim riders a better surface to perform body spins and board spins. To create a longer wave, simply add a little extra weight to the bow of your boat. If skateboarding, more technicality, and a more playful ride then skim style wakesurfing might be for you.

Surf Style

As you would guess, the surf style wakesurf boards are designed and shaped to mimic the ones you’d see in the ocean.Compared to the thin profile of skim boards, surf style wakesurf boards typically have thicker profiles, wide or shaped tails, and larger fins. The thicker profile, or higher volume, creates more buoyancy allowing the board to float higher on the water. The buoyancy increase also increases push and heightens where the edges sit in the water. To counteract the minimal edge control, a large fin is added to increase stabilization and edge performance. Board maneuvers on a surf style are described as fluid and less immediate. Additionally, surf style boards tend to have square tipped tails or V-shaped tails which increase push and minimizes effort needed to keep up with the wave.These boards are mainly constructed from fiberglass and a wood stringer. They tend to be more rounded and longer than skim boards. When using a surf style board it’s ideal to have a medium length wave, with a steeper grade which creates more push and is perfect for big turns and aggressive carves.

What to Pick

With all fancy vocabulary to the side, let’s cut to the point. If you want to learn how to do 360’s and other spin variations, you’re going to want a skim style board. On the other hand, if ocean style carves and hard slashes sound appealing to you, than you are probably going to want to go with a surf style board. As you start wakesurfing more you may like one more than the other or you may like both. We like to keep one of each kind in the boat to appeal to all riders in the boat.

What They Won’t Tell You

While skim style boards are easy to spin and are very responsive under your feet, with a smaller profile and less push, you might find yourself working harder to “pump” or keep up with the wave. Also, if your wave is smaller and you are 225lb you might want to look into a larger skim style board or look into the surf style boards.

Surf style boards have their cons as well. With such a large fin, it will be much more difficult to initiate spin maneuvers on a surf style board. And while a little push is nice, smaller riders might struggle with staying away from the back of the boat, due to the amount of push on surf style boards.

Is There A Middle Ground?

Looking for the best of both worlds? You may want to consider a hybrid surf board. Hybrid style boards offer a higher profile like that of a surf board, but have the shape and fin arrangement of a skim board. What this means for you is a board that lets you spin easier than a surf style board and offers more push than a skim style board.

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