A great source of thrills and fun is wakeboarding. Wakeboarding caters for all levels of experience – making it the perfect activity for a warm summer day. Wakeboarding: A physical challenge? Yes. Easy? No. Thrilling, rewarding, exhilarating? Most definitely. If you’ve ever dreamt of letting out your inner surfer dude, then this could be the perfect sport to try this summer.
What is wakeboarding?
Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water. The wakeboard is a small, mostly rectangular, thin board with very little displacement and shoe-like bindings mounted to it. It was developed from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing techniques. The wakeboard is usually towed behind a motorboat, typically at speeds of 18–25 mph, depending on the board size, weight, type of tricks, and comfort. This speed could also depend on the year, make, and model of the boat because some boats, which are not designed for wakeboarding, create a different size wake which may not feel comfortable with. But can also be towed by other means, including closed-course cable systems, winches, and personal water craft.
How did wakeboarding get started?
Wakeboarding, which was originally called skurfing, arose in the late 1970s after the advent of ski boarding (now snowboarding).
It’s been claimed over the years that wakeboarding originated in a variety of different places.
The most widely accepted origin is in Australia in the 1980s when a skurfing board was given to a man called Jeff Darby. Darby and his friends set about shaping their own skurfing boards, specifically designed to be towed behind boats. They ended up setting up their own trademarked company called Skurfer, selling these boards.
Around the same time in Florida however, a surfer named Howard Jacobs was surfing his smaller surfboards behind motorboats, adding foot straps and pads on the board to attempt tricks impossible on a normal surfboard.
By the mid-eighties there were two notable brands selling wakeboards. Darby joined forces with surfboard shaper and inventor Bruce McKee to create the ‘Mcski’ board, later renamed the ‘Wake-snake.’ Bruce McKee and associate Mitchell Ross on the other hand created the ‘Surf-Ski’ board and launched it at the 1984 at Chicago’s IMTEC show.
Wakeboarding was added as a competitive sport in the X Games II. The World Skiboard Association has now been re-named the World Wakeboard Association (WWA). There is even a magazine now about wakeboarding called none else then Wakeboarding
Wakeboarding is categorized as a water sport.
Equipment needed to Wakeboard
If you want to give wakeboarding a go, there are locations where you will be able to rent out all the wakeboarding equipment necessary. If you want to invest in owning your wakeboarding equipment, here are the essentials you’ll need to get started.
A boat- The kind of boat your using has a big effect on your wakeboarding. Axis Boats, Bayliner Boats and Calabria Boats are among the best brands of boats for wakeboarding.
A Board- Beginners should look at buying a double-ended board with a fin, as they’re more stable. Look for boards with quality fins and a continuous rocker. Ronix Vault, Slingshot Choice and Hyperlite State 2.0 are all good examples of beginner boards for wakeboarding.
Bindings – In wakeboarding, there are three main types of bindings available. Velcro bindings are suitable for beginners and easily adjustable. Adjustable boot bindings can be adjusted but are slightly more supportive. High back boot bindings are best for wakeboarding tricks because of their high support. Read more about wakeboard bindings in our guide here.
Rope- Beginners should use a short non-stretch rope. The shorter the rope, the more control you have while learning.
Wetsuit- The thickness of your wetsuit depends on the conditions in which your wakeboarding. Most beginners will spend a lot of time in the water, so if water is cold, consider a wetsuit.
Buoyancy Aid- Does it look cool? No. Should you wear it? Yes. Common sense on this one.
Where can you rent wakeboarding equipment?
For this you would want to look around lakes in your areas or states to see if they offer this.
You can figure 40-60 dollars a day to rent wakeboarding equipment, of course this depends on where you rent from. This does not include if you must rent a boat. You may find a water park that offers cable wakeboarding which costs will vary also.
Is wakeboarding hard to learn?
Learning wakeboarding is like learning any other water sport, be prepared to fall a lot while learning, and you will use muscles that you never knew you had before.
If possible, when beginning, see if you can get an instructor or in a beginning class with an instructor. When you fall down face first in the water, they will probably know what you are doing wrong.
This sport is very rough on your arm muscles, so be prepared. After five minutes, they will feel like they are going to fall off. This is totally normal. Trust us, you’ll get stronger and get used to it.
If you are already into surfing, snowboarding or skateboarding, you’ll probably know whether you are regular or goofy footed. A good way to tell is thinking about which foot you naturally kick a football with – that foot will be your back foot.
It will probably come naturally to you as the boat pulls you out of the water for the first time, you’ll just feel what foot feels better pointing forwards.
Slamming into the water can hurt, if you have ever done a belly flop in pool, you will experience this with wakeboarding if you slam into the water hard. Therefore, the buoyancy aid.
Using a shorter rope often makes it easier for beginners to stand up. A shorter rope means the wakeboarder is in the narrower section of the wake. You can also hear the advice being yelled by the instructor in the boat clearer. Beginners should use a rope that is between 30 and 50 feet.
Longer ropes allow more advanced riders to get more speed and air for tricks.
It’s a natural tendency for beginners’ wakeboarding for the first time to pull on the rope. Don’t do it.
Wakeboarding isn’t about pulling yourself up, it’s about letting the boat pull you to your feet. If you tug on the rope, it will probably make the nose of your board dig into the water, causing you to do a water slam. Keep arms straight when being pulled up by boat or cable.
Always keep the handle low and close to your hip as possible.
It’s common for beginners to try and hold the handle high, perpendicular to the water like water-skiers. This will cause another water slam with your face.
Practice your handle grip on the land before you take it to the water.
Look straight ahead, don’t look down at the water watching yourself wakeboard, or it will be another water slam.
Rent your equipment when first learning.
You should be able to get the hang of wakeboarding quickly, many say quicker then snowboarding and surfing. Just takes a few hours to feel very comfortable at it and try more risky things like tricks.
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