Wakeboarding – A Rapidly Growing Sport

At one time, when someone mentioned water sports, the first things that came to mind were skiing, surfing, and swimming. Now there are all kinds of different products available on the market that make for great fun on the water. You can choose from towables, water trampolines, kayaks, and kneeboards, all which come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and number of riders.

One water sport in particular that has really taken hold and is growing rapidly in popularity is wakeboarding. It is exciting and a lot of fun not only to do, but to watch as well.

What is Wakeboarding?

Wakeboarding is a surface water sport, which means the rider is on top of the water in full view, similar to a skier. The idea for the sport came from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing.

A specially designed wakeboard is towed behind a speedboat or motorboat. The speed depends on several factors, such as the wind and water conditions, the size of the wakeboard, the weight of the rider, and, of course, the skill and personal desires of the rider.

Beginners typically want to start out slow, whereas experienced riders feel comfortable at faster speeds. Typically, though, the boat speed for wakeboarding ranges between 15-25 miles per hour.

Wakeboard Equipment

You will need a wakeboard, and you can generally expect to pay anywhere from around $200 ranging on up to $500 or more, depending on the board you choose.

Wakeboards are gauged by the weight of the rider, so when selecting a board, consider who will be riding on it. They also come with boots in different sizes, so it isn’t necessarily a “one size fits all” water sport. These boards come in many sizes and colors; some are designed for men and some for women.

You can purchase boots separately, so if you have a wakeboard and want to accommodate riders with different foot sizes, you simply purchase additional boots.

A wakeboard bag or  cover is another handy item to have, but not required. Some models include the cover with the purchase of the board. It protects the board when not in use, and makes it more convenient to transport.

All riders should wear a life vest when riding a wakeboard, and it should be one designed for water sports, so it allows plenty of freedom of movement and comfort. Another good piece of equipment is a wakeboarding helmet, for additional safety. As riders learn the moves that launch them into the air, a wakeboard helmet gives them extra security in staying safe during all the exciting moves and trick they can do.

Wakeboard Features – The Rocker

The “rocker” of a wakeboard is the bend it has from its tip to its tail. When selecting a wakeboard, you need to know a little bit about this because there are different types of rockers.

A 3-stage rocker wakeboard has two very distinct points that occur in the bend. This pushes more water out in front during the ride, which slows the board progress down, yet still allows the rider to be able to jump off the wake.

Probably the most popular rocker is called the continuous rocker. It is designed to create a smooth curve from tip to tail as opposed to having bend points. A wakeboard with a continuous rocker is not restricted by the water flow, so it moves faster through the water than a board with a 3-stage rocker.

Wakeboard Features – Length

There are different reasons why a rider might surf on a wakeboard that is not the size recommended per the chart provided by the manufacturer.

One reason is that with wakeboards costing hundreds of dollars, it is not always possible to have a board to accommodate every rider on your boat who wants to participate. Serious sports enthusiasts who wakeboard often typically have their own boards, but that is not always the case.

Another reason is that experienced riders develop very specific maneuvers, and some of them may require the use of a smaller or larger board for these tricks.

In addition, a smaller wakeboard is generally lighter, and offers a faster spin, whereas a larger board gives a smoother landing and moves slower.

Riding the Wakeboard

As with any sport, wakeboarding takes time and experience to master. Any beginner should take it slow and not jump right into the most difficult maneuvers right away. It is a good idea to get wakeboarding lessons from a qualified wakeboard instructor, attend a wakeboard camp,  or at least review the basics of the sport by watching wakeboard DVDs or videos.

The rider has the ability to move in or out of the wake as desired. They can launch themselves airborne by “hitting” the wake, which is referred to as a jump. As a rider becomes more experienced and improves their skills, they can do tricks and maneuvers while they are in the air.

Once a rider gets the basic feel for the sport, they can progress with practice into some of the many maneuvers and tricks seen so often on the lake by some of the more die-hard wakeboarding enthusiasts. See you at the “wake!”

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