The Speed Factor: How It Shapes Wakesurf Board Performance
Performance Series
By Dakota Smith

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Performance = f(Speed, Agility, Air)

In our previous article, What Is Performance, we set out to define the often thrown around word of “Performance” and what that means when we’re talking about wakesurf boards. In it, we defined performance as being made up of 3 different parts: Speed, Agility, and Air. By combining these three metrics in different ways and optimizing for them we are able to make huge strides in improving performance. 

Revisiting the why

I think it’s important to take a minute and go back to why it matters that we define performance and the parts that make it up. By defining performance in terms of Speed, Agility, and Air, we are able to set up tests and simulations that measure those specific aspects. With our tests and simulations in hand, we can then start to ask questions such as: “if I change the width of the board what will that do to the board's speed?” or “if we use a lighter material, how much will the agility of the wakesurf board increase?”. By running these through our tests and simulations we can quantitatively (fancy word for saying we can get a number as opposed to a “feel”) say whether or not we are improving performance. This is why it is so important to define performance, because without it we are making changes to our wakesurf board design with no idea whether they’ll be effective or not. 

What is Speed

With all that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at Speed and how it affects your wakesurf board. When we talk about Speed we can think of it as being made of two different aspects: linear speed and rotational speed. Linear speed boils down to the time it takes for a board to move a certain distance i.e. time/distance. For all of our technical aficionados out there, when we talk about speed we really mean speed and not velocity. We don’t care about the total displacement of the board, we just care about how far it will go. The other aspect of Speed is rotational speed, which is a fancy way of saying how much time it takes for a board to spin around its center axis. Again, we only care about rotational speed and not velocity here. Both linear speed and rotational speed play a key role in how quickly you can move your board from point A to point B or around its axis. 

Linear speed: taking a look under the hood

Linear speed is what we all think of when we say a board is fast. If you’ve been wakesurfing for any length of time you can tell when you have a fast board under your feet. On a fast board we tend to have to lean back more, and more often than not find ourselves shooting forward till we just about touch the boat. It’s the feeling you get when you drop all the way back on the wave and shift your weight slightly to your front foot and shoot forward. This is what we mean by linear speed. In more technical terms, linear speed is the amount of time it takes for a board to travel a set distance. A board with higher linear speed is going to take less time to cover the same distance that a board with a lower linear speed would.

Rotational speed: the less thought of aspect of speed

No less important than linear speed, rotational speed tends to get forgotten when we talk about speed. But if you've ever hopped on a surf style board boasting a twin fin set up and tried to do a shuv you notice that it takes awhile for that board to rotate under your feet. Contrast that to a skim style board with no fins and when you go pull a shuv the board practically spins like a blender. The difference that you are seeing in both of these cases is rotational speed. Breaking it down a bit, rotational speed is the amount of time it takes for your board to spin around its axis a given distance. A board with a higher rotational speed is going to spin much faster than one with a lower rotational speed. 

Bringing it full circle

By now you may be asking yourself why it matters that we’ve separated out speed into two separate pieces. For that matter, you may be asking yourself why do we even care to measure speed in the first place? We all know a fast board when it’s under our feet. Aren’t boards out there fast enough? NO. By defining speed and truly understanding what makes up speed allows us to test and measure different changes we make to boards. It allows us to carry forward those changes that increase speed so that every year our boards get faster and faster. Ultimately, faster boards mean that you can ride a smaller board which will increase it’s agility and allow you to do more on the water. Designing a faster board means that you have more forgiveness when you are learning a new trick to fall farther back on the wave because you can recover faster. Faster boards are an unlock to bringing out the best wakesurfer in all of us.

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About The Author

Dakota Smith
Author Photo

Dakota Smith is the original founder of Smith Board Co and is deeply involved in every aspect of the company. The idea for Smith Board Co came about when Dakota, who stands at 6’5” and weighs 230 lbs, couldn’t find a wakesurf board that was both big enough for him and fun to ride. With his background in product design and innovation, he recognized that the wakesurf industry was ripe for someone to apply engineering principles to create exceptional boards for everyone.

Dakota holds a B.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering and an M.B.A. with a focus on Entrepreneurship. He channels his education and passion into bringing new ideas to life at Smith Board Co.

In his free time, Dakota enjoys reading, competing in CrossFit, writing about his passions, and spending as much time as possible out on the water. He lives in Erie, CO, with his wife and two dogs.

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