If you ask most boat riders, they will tell you that a 144 is a big board, but if you ask one of the shredders at your local cable park, they might say that it’s kinda small. Boat riders typically have a wider stance with a smaller board, whereas most cable riders nowadays have a shoulder width stance and a 150+. Board size and stance are subjective to the rider and what they’re used to. I like to encourage people to adjust their stance every now and then to see how it feels. Everyone has their own shape and geometry, so it’s important that you find out what works best for you.
I grew up riding behind the boat for the most part so I used to just slam my bindings all the way out, because that’s what you did. And, being a smaller guy, I never had much reason to ride a big board. I’m 5’5″ tall and have never weighed more than 140 Lbs. so my typical board size was always between 134 to 139. I eventually started spending more time on cable systems and redirected my focus to rails, kickers, and air tricks. The riding environment at a cable park is similar to a skatepark. You get to ride with your friends, meet new ones, and push each other. The social aspect of riding at cable parks is just really cool to me and I think it plays a crucial part in the growth of our sport. The skinny stance trend is an example of new influence in wake that started at cable parks. Thanks to the homie Alex Graydon, I was convinced to try it out in 2014 at McCormick’s Cable Park.
Going from all the way out to all the way in on my board was super weird. It actually took a few weeks of riding for my muscles to adjust to a new stance. Once I got used to a shoulder width stance, it just felt natural. It felt like I was standing normally and not in a constant squat. I also started paying more attention to my ollies and where the pop was coming from. It occurred to me that, since the back half of your board is suctioned to the water, the power must come from the last section of the board that leaves the water; the tail. Combine a skinny stance with a massive board and you have a lot more nose and tail to work with, which means more ollie power. Having a longer nose and tail also allows you to interact with the water and features in new ways. For instance, you can use the extra nose and tail to pivot your landings and skim the water as you’re coming around to land, which can add some serious spice to your dusty bag of tricks.
The greatest benefit of a bigger board is that it’s much easier for larger people to stand up on and ride for the first time. The more surface area your board has, the more stable you’ll be on the water.
These are things that any rider will notice right away when riding a larger board when compared to a smaller board. Riding a humongous board isn’t for everyone though. It’s really hard to go from a 140 straight to a 150 or bigger, so I recommend easing into it. Join me in this new postmodern trend of sizing up. Go big or go home!