The sport of Wakeboarding involves a wakeboard which is attached to high powerboats that drag the wakeboard on a water body and the rider does gravity-defying stunts and loops on the surface of the water. Wakeboarding is the wet and wild cousin of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing. The sport is a surface water sport and provides a lot of adrenaline to its participants.
Wakeboard is one of the fastest-growing water sports across the globe as nearly three million people participate in wakeboarding in the United States of America alone. This weird yet thrilling ride arose to the scene in the 1980s when surfers started attaching rides on boats with the help of connecting ropes which was pretty similar to water skiing.
As time passed wakeboarding became a crazy new thing for the enthusiast looking for adventure. Soon, surfers began to design wakeboards which actually helped maintain the balance and steadiness, whilst pushing the barriers of speed and power to the limit. These newly designed wakeboards produced larger waves and thus by the 1990s, wakeboarding was very much in trend. With time, the sport has become more sophisticated as it now includes various gears, televised tournaments and professional organizations.
A guy named Tony Finn is credited with the honour of developing a surfer for the sport of ski boarding. Before that, many brave individuals put their limbs on the line when they surfed via being towed through trucks on coast lines. However, Finn changed the game once and for all in 1985.
The skurfer designed by Finn was a combination of water ski and surfboard. Due to the lack of foot straps, surfers had the liberty to stand anywhere across the board. Although, Finn decided to add straps to his skurfer in 1985 and at that time he did not know his invention would be the massive breakthrough in terms of popularizing a relatively anonymous sport at that time. Determined to make the sport known worldwide, Finn was able to achieve his dream somewhat when ESPN televised the first-ever surfers’ championships in 1990. The sport has been on the rise since as ski boarding gradually developed in wakeboarding.
Soon Herb O’Brien of H.O. Sports came up with a wakeboard called the ‘The Hyperlite’. The board’s design made manoeuvring over water child’s play and hence attracted new adventure junkies from all age groups.
Boards are excessively buoyant and usually made up of honeycomb, foam or wood mixed with resin and coated with fiberglass. They are about five feet long and two feet wide at the centre with a blunt nose and tail. The pricing ranges from $200 to $800.
There are various other attachments like the fins and bindings which are used to increase the performance on the water. The fins, for example, can be changed according to the preference of tricks and skill moves done by the wake boarder. Shallow fins are used to do surface tricks thus making it a necessity for flat spins.
The most common difference between a normal boat and a wake boarding boat is that in the latter there is high tow point, normally constructed over a wall of stainless steel which holds the rope around 7ft over the water level. This allows the surfer to achieve more height on jumps and certain manoeuvres.
The Skills on Water
Riding on wakes produced by waves of water is the prime goal of this sport and how one makes this whole process look more charming. Jumps are performed by approaching a wake and riding over it and jumping in the air. As time progresses, a rider may shift through gears to stay in the air for more duration whilst adding more skills to the whole showboating process. Eventually, when the rider rides a wake, its energy sends the person airborne and that is the whole concept of this sport.
Physics behind Wakeboarding
The two main forces that come into play in this sport are resistance (drag) that the board encounters when moving through the waters and the tension on the rope. Tension is a reaction force (remember Newton’s third law of motion?) and it is directly related to the force applied on the rope. The harder you pull the rope, the more tension it generates and in-turn the higher force it applies to you.
In snowboarding and surfing, there is an almost different language used to describe the sport. For instance “Pop” is a term used to describe the air between the board and the surface of the water. Some basic manoeuvers are listed down below:
- Tantrum: Approaching the wake from behind and to execute a back flip
- Temper Tantrum: Similar to the tantrum but twice as fun including a double back roll
- Speedball: Includes a double front roll
- Whirlybird: A back roll with full 360-degree spin
- Raley: Once the rider is on board a wake, he needs to raise his feet and board above his head
- Fakie: Switching between the dominant feet whilst on a wake
- Roll-to-revert: To perform a roll and land doing a fakie.
Some Prominent Wakeboarders
Listed below are names of some of the best professional athletes from this sport:
- Steel Lafferty
- Shota Tezuka
- Rusty Malinoski
- Harley Clifford
- Cory Teunissen