Why Bigger Wakesurfers Struggle To Stay On The Wave And What To Do About It
By Dakota S

Wakesurfing presents distinct challenges for bigger riders, impacting their balance and control on the water. This article delves into the root causes of these challenges and proposes effective solutions. We focus on how factors like board size, buoyancy, and material choices can significantly influence the wakesurfing experience for those who are larger and heavier.

Understanding the Dynamics: Drag and Buoyancy

The main challenge for larger wakesurfers in staying atop the wave stems from the balance of forces acting on the board. These include:

  • The rider's weight, exerting a downward force.
  • Buoyancy of the board, providing an upward lift.
  • Forward motion generated by the wave.
  • Drag, which resists forward movement.

    Larger Rider Force Diagram

    When wakesurfers shift their weight to the rear, they increase drag, causing them to fall back on the wave. Conversely, applying more force to the front propels them forward. For those new to this concept, it’s worth experiencing firsthand in the water.

    For larger riders, their greater weight amplifies these dynamics. This results in two primary effects: increased drag, requiring a stronger wave for propulsion, and a heightened moment of inertia (MOI). The latter makes every movement more pronounced - for example, pressing down on the back foot has a more significant impact compared to smaller riders.

    Solutions for Bigger Wakesurfers 

    Fortunately, there are effective ways to counter these issues. Enhancing board buoyancy is key, achievable through larger board sizes, more buoyant materials, or a combination of both.

    While the common approach is to recommend longer boards for increased buoyancy, this often comes at the cost of maneuverability. Such boards can be cumbersome, limiting the rider’s ability to perform tricks and sharp turns.

    Innovative Approach at Smith Board Co

    At Smith Board Co, we’re at the forefront of developing solutions tailored for larger riders. Our focus is not just on increasing buoyancy but doing so without compromising board size. Our strategies include:

    • Utilizing diverse construction materials.
    • Experimenting with innovative foam densities for enhanced buoyancy.

    We're moving beyond the traditional EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam, a staple in surfboard construction, to explore advanced EPS variants and other materials. This allows us to create boards that provide the necessary buoyancy for larger riders while maintaining the agility and performance of smaller boards.

    Our Vision: An Inclusive Wakesurfing Community

    Our ultimate goal is to broaden the appeal of wakesurfing. By designing boards that meet the specific needs of larger riders without sacrificing performance, we’re making the sport more accessible and enjoyable for a wider audience.