Wakeboards are far from crude chunks of fiberglass and foam with splashy graphics. A lot goes into wakeboarding design. Shape, curvature, fin placement and more can make a huge difference in how a board performs.

Here are some of the more common terms used in wakeboard design, what they mean and how they'll affect your ride:

  • Rocker— The curve of a wakeboard from end to end. To measure the rocker, place the board on a flat surface and measure the distance the tip and tail rise up from the ground. Generally, more rocker increases the board's playful nature and its ability to ride up steeper wakes and land softly. However, there is point of diminishing returns with rocker: Too much of it can slow down the board.

  • Sidecut— The difference between a board's center width and the width at the tip and tail. Continuous sidecut allows the board to spin easier by offering a quicker release off the wake, while a flat section in the sidecut produces a harder carve into the wake.

  • Outline— The board's shape viewed from above. Rounded-end boards are typically better spinners, more forgiving and smoother in choppy water. A board with squared-off ends often delivers a better "pop" off the wake but requires greater precision upon landing.

  • Rails— The actual "edges" of a wakeboard, rails can be either sharp or soft. The sharper the rail, the faster your board will likely carve at the wake and the better your eventual pop will be. The softer the rail, the more forgiving the ride.

  • Fin Placement— This has a lot to do with riding style. Fins that are placed farther in from the tip and tail create a "looser" feeling board, whereas fins located closer to the tip and tail "lock" the board in.

  • Channels— Like their name implies, channels "channel" water flow across the bottom of your board. A channel can help the board hold while on edge. The deeper the channel, the better the tracking ability, but too deep and the board won't break free as easily for tricks like power slides.

  • Bindings— The link between the board and your body. Boot-style bindings are the preferred choice of today's rider, offering a great deal of ankle support and locking you in with confidence.

Written by: Jeff Hemmel
Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.