Are Cable Park Wakeboards Different?
Riding with a cable park wakeboard is a different experience from riding with a boat wakeboard for several reasons. If you’re a boat wakeboarder who’s interested in switching over to riding in a wakeboard park, it’s important to know that the two kinds of boards have different features that make them appropriate for either boats or wakeboarding parks. We’ll explain the differences, and give you some recommendations for the best cable park wakeboards.
What’s in the name?
Those new to wakeboarding may not understand that there is a difference between wakeboarding in a cable park vs wakeboarding behind a boat. Cable parks are like skate parks, in which there are ramps and obstacles to ride on. The rider is pulled along the park from a mechanized cable. You won’t have actual wakes in a cable park, and you will just land in flat water.
Wakeboarding behind a boat involves a moving boat with a cable attached. The rider holds onto the cable and is pulled along behind. The rider can perform tricks on the wake which comes from the boat.
Both options have their pros and cons to consider. It can be easier for beginners to ride in a cable park as the variables are more consistent, and often competitions are held in parks. You’ll also be able to ride along with friends in a cable park, as parks can usually accommodate more than one rider at a time.
Riding behind a boat can be a little more challenging, but it can be easier on the knees as you are landing on the wake instead of flat water, creating a softer landing. There are a lot of great tricks you can learn behind a boat.
Cable park vs. boat wakeboards
Cable park wakeboards differ from boat wakeboards in several aspects: size, material, flex, and base. The different features help determine whether you’ll be successful in riding in your desired location, so it’s important to pay attention to what features your board has.
Park boards are generally bigger in size than boat boards because they help to soften the impact from a landing when the rider jumps off of kickers. Remember, there are no wakes in a park so your landings will be harder. The larger size creates less drag in the water which is good when you are pulled by a cable as you will not go too fast. Common sizes for cable park wakeboards are 141 cm, 145 cm, and 149 cm.
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Cable park wakeboards are made with a stronger, more durable material than boat wakeboards are. The boxes and rails at a cable park are tough on wakeboards, so they can easily become worn down. A boat wakeboard, which is meant primarily to be ridden in water, won’t last long if you use it to perform tricks at a wakeboard park.
Cable park wakeboards have a lot more flex than boat boards, partly because bigger boards have more flex than smaller boards. Cable park boards have more flex on the tip and tail, which allows riders to press a box, lock into rails, and have smoother landings. Having more flex gives the rider more options when riding over the stationary features of a park. Boat boards have more stiffness because they need to have more explosion with the wake.
The base is another important feature in distinguishing a cable park wakeboard from a boat wakeboard. Cable park boards generally have flat bases, while boat boards have more contours. A flatter base spreads the friction around the board, allowing for easier spins and tricks when you’re on the boxes and rails. The bases of cable park boards are equipped with grind bases, which are highly resilient materials that can stand up to the beating that cable park boards take.
You also won’t find large fins, if any, on park wakeboards. While boat wakeboards have larger fins for control in the wake, park boards are either flat or have very small fins for less traction. It’s best not to have fins on a cable park wakeboard. Most cable parks require you to take off your fins before you ride.
Can you use a boat board at a cable park?
It’s certainly possible to use a boat board at a cable park, but just be aware that your board won’t last very long with extended use. If you just keep it in water, it will be fine, but if you’re planning to use the obstacles for tricks, they will wear through your board pretty quickly since boat boards don’t have grind bases. Boat boards are also stiffer than cable park boards, so you’ll have harder impacts on the obstacles, and your landings will be rougher.
Are hybrid wakeboards worth it?
The hybrid wakeboard is a model that is in between the two categories of park boards and boat boards. Hybrid boards have removable fins so you can use them at the park or behind a boat. They are less common now, but still an option if you don’t want to buy two boards. They’re not ideal for either situation, however, and you’ll be sacrificing something in either situation. If you know you’re going to be spending most of your time at either the cable park or the lake, go with the best option for each choice. The best cable wakeboard is one that is designed for use in parks.