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Wakeboarding Is A Popular Extreme Water Sport

Updated on August 6, 2015
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Wakeboarding is an extreme sport that is growing in popularity. It has a dedicated following who feel this sport is the next step in the progression of water skiing.

The Wakeboarding and Water Skiing Difference

Wakeboarders ride over the top of the water on a small board. This board is connected to a motorboat. The boat pulls the wakeboard and rider over the water. A person water skiing can stay behind a boat and simply enjoy the ride. There are a few tricks a person can do while water skiing. Wakeboarding is designed to perform stunts. A single board is used instead of having a water ski on each foot. A person water skiing will want to avoid waves. A wakeboarder will seek them out.

Wakeboarding Stunt
Wakeboarding Stunt


The goal of wakeboarders is to leverage the wake created by being pulled by a motorboat. This will enable them to do extreme jumps and stunning maneuvers. It is estimated that over 2.5 million people in the United States and over 3.5 million people worldwide regularly engage in the sport of wakeboarding. Each year the number of wakeboarding participants increases.


The sport of wakeboarding began sometime in the latter part of the 1980s. There are those who believe it was developed from a sport in New Zealand and Australia called Skurfing. Others feel it was started by Howard Jacobs in 1983. It is believed Jacobs created small surfboards and attached windsurfing foot straps on them. He then tested out his invention on the St. Johns River in Florida. The label “wakeboarding” is believed to have been started by Paul Fraser of Canada in 1991. The name was probably given because the board travels in the wake of a boat. Fraser talked with a company about manufacturing the boards he designed specifically for the sport. The first ones were made to be very light so they would be more maneuverable.

First Wakeboards

The first wakeboard was called the Skurfer. It was developed Tony Finn and was made available to the public in 1985. It had the shape of a surfboard with a pointed nose and round tail. On the bottom was a fin that had the appearance of one found on a surfboard. The skurfer was a big hit. Herb O'Brian owned a water ski manufacturing company. He is credited with designing the first boards designed specifically for wakeboarding. It was called the Hyperlite. This board is credited with increasing maneuverability and enabling many different types of people to participate in wakeboarding.

Wakeboarding At Sunset
Wakeboarding At Sunset

Wakeboards Today

The boards used for wakeboarding are approximately five feet long with a width of two feet at the middle. It will have a blunt nose and a tail. The majority of wakeboards used today are made with fiberglass and graphite. They will come with bindings that are built into the board. This will keep the boarder's feet in place while wakeboarding. There are also some wakeboards that have been made with a twin-tipped design. This makes it possible for a wakeboarder to easily make movements in all directions. Many people do not realize that wakeboards may appear to be the same, but each will provide a different level of performance. Wakboarders choose their board's based on the pop a board can get them, the edge it's able to maintain as well as its landing ability. A board's maneuverability while airborne is also a consideration. Prior to buying a particular wakeboard, it is recommended the customer take it for a ride to see if the board is a match to the wakeboarder's skill level. It is easy to purchase a wakeboard at skateboard shops as well as water ski and boat stores.

Wakeboarding Competition
Wakeboarding Competition

Maneuvers And Stunts

An experienced wakeboarder can do a wide variety of jumps and other technically challenging moves. One of the most important things for wakeboarders to do is develop their basic skill. They want to be able to perform as many wakeboarding maneuvers and stunts as possible. There are several wakeboarding maneuvers to learn. Fashion air requires the rider puts the board behind him in the air. With his knees downward, the rider puts his hands up after arching his back. There is also air ralley, where the rider jumps the wake. Their body then moves back. When it's even with the water, they land on the opposite side of the wake. There are dozens of maneuvers and stunts that can be learned.


During wakeboarding competitions, participants go through a course and perform routines. They are judged on their style in specific categories. When they complete the course, their performance is judged and a score is awarded. The one with the highest score is the winner.

Women Wakeboarders

The sport of wakeboarding is growing in popularity among women. It is estimated that women make up approximately 25 percent of active wakeboarders. There are now wakeboards designed and manufactured specifically to accommodate a woman's body. These boards are shorter, lighter and thinner than ones used by men. There is currently a professional wakeboarding circuit for female riders called Queen of Wake series. The winner is given the title of Queen of Wake.

Wakeboard Lingo

Like surfers, those who go wakeboarding have their own words for things. When a person holds the wakeboard in their hand, it is referred to as a grab. Having your legs fully straightened is called a bone out. When the water used for wakeboarding is smooth and calm, it is called glass. A bad wreck on a wakeboard could be called a stack, digger, wipeout or faceplant. When a person does a bad landing and their butt hits or drags along the water, it is called a butt check. A washy wake refers to a bumpy or rough wake experienced by a wakeboarder. When a rider has their right foot forward they are called a goofy foot. A rider with their left foot forward is called a regular foot.



Many people who enjoy performing stunts while wakeboarding also like kneeboarding. This is when a person is strapped to a board in a kneeling position as they are being towed by a motorboat. There are a number of impressive stunts that can be performed while kneeboarding. A common use of kneeboards is at cable parks. There they are utilized to get people accustomed to traveling using a cable system prior to getting on a wakeboard. The stance used to ride a kneeboard is far more stable than when standing on a wakeboard.

Governing Body

The organization that governs the sport is called the World Wakeboard Association (WWA). The WWA began in 1989 and was initially called the World Skiboard Association. It sponsored the first wakeboarding championships in Hawaii. With the growing popularity of wakeboarding, the organization changed its name in the 1990s. Today anyone interested in trying Wakeboarding can contact the WWA, or one of the wakeboarding organizations that provides training.

World Wakeboard Association Website


Wakeboarding Magazine Website


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