Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water while being towed by most of time a boat but there are other means which a rider can be towed. It was developed from a combination of water skiing, snow boarding and surfing techniques. The rider, also called a wakeboarder, is usually towed behind a boat, at speeds typically from 17-24, depending on the water conditions, board size, rider’s weight, type of tricks, and rider’s comfort speed.
History of Wakeboarding and Some Basics
Wakeboarding is organized by the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). In 1946 was founded by The IWSF (Renamed the IWWF in 2009). The IWSF was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as official partner since 1967. Since 2005, wakeboarding is part of the World Games (Non Olympic Games patronized by IOC). The IWWF has more than 90 Member Nations all over the World. and is organizing the Nationals Championships together with this Federations all over the globe. IWWF also hosts IWWF World Championships, the IWWF World Cup, the IWWF World Trophy and hundreds of international competitions. With more than 90 affiliate countries, hundreds of clubs and thousands of members the IWWF is the global leader in the sports of waterski and wakeboarding. The IWWF and its Cable Wakeboard World Council (CWWC) is a rider formed voluntary nonprofit working council and is organizing and promoting wakeboarding on a worldwide level. It is the group for organizing competitions, developing the Cable Wakeboard World Rules, formats, judging criteria, educating Judges and helping organizers to running the competitions.
Wakeboarding came about in the late 1980s after the arrival of skiboarding, now known as snowboarding. In 1983, Howard Jacobs created several wakeboards by mounting windsurfing foot straps and partial hydroslide pads on some smaller surfboards that he had shaped. Jacobs was throwing backflips on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, by 1984. The term “wakeboarding” was thought of by Paul Fraser(Vancouver, Canada), as well as the concept and design, along with his brother Murray and a Pro snowboarder they sponsored. Paul approached Herb O’Brien with the idea and the introduction of the “liquid force” boards, named by Eric “The Flyin Hawaiian” Perez, laid the groundwork for evolution of the wakeboard throughout the 1990s. The World Skiboard Association was founded in 1989 and the First World Skiboard Championships was held on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, on the Wailua River. The next year Eric Perez defended his title against Darin Shapiro. This is when the Hyperlite wakeboard was introduced. The first US Nationals were held later that same year in Colorado Springs, CO on Prospect lake, hosted by Tommy Phillips. Competitions began popping up around the United States throughout the early 1990s. Wakeboarding was added as a competitive sport in the X Games II. The World Skiboard Association “changed its focus” and was re- named the World Wakeboard Association (WWA).
Boards are made to float with the middle usually made up of foam or honeycomb mixed with resin and coated with fiberglass. Metal screws are inserted to attach bindings and fins. According to the preference to the rider of wakeboarder, the fins may be positioned how they like. Different fins are used for different types of tricks. For example, shallow fins are better for surface tricks, such as flat spins. Many newer board models contain small moulded fins on the board which allows the rider to use smaller centre fins and also to create less drag. Board hardware is often set up to allow a rider to ride “Switch” or “Fakie,” with either foot forward. Such setups are usually symmetrical in layout. New riders normally set up their boards to be comfortable to ride with their “natural” foot forward, which does not allow for riding Switch without modifications.
Wakeboarding- How to ride
In order to get up behind the boat for first time riders, here are a few pointers: 1. Get a feel for the board and practice turning the board while you are in the water, 2. when you are ready and give the boat driver the cue to go, (which may be “hit it,” or “go,” ect.) let the boat pull you up. Don’t fight the boat. At the same time lean back, and keep your knees slightly bent. 3. Once up keep your knees bent and continue leaning back. Also don’t get discouraged if you do not get it right away, every boarder started out a beginner and sometimes it takes more time than other. Don’t give up, you will get it!
The rider can move outside of the wake or in toward the wake, by leaning slightly heel side or toe side. Jumps are performed by “cutting in” sharply toward the wake. Start by going out of the wake as far as you can, then cut sharply and have the board aimed toward the wake ready to launch. In order to jump the wake you must keep your knees bent, lean back, and cut sharply. When keeping the knees bent, the knees act as shocks, so you can land in the water smoothly. Once riders become more experienced he or she can go on to try to do to tricks high in the air. As the rope tightens the rider gains speed and momentum toward the wake. When the rider goes airborne, the tightened rope launches him/her. While in the air the rider attempts to do tricks. Tricks vary from beginner to intermediate.
Some wakeboarders have different preferences to what size their boards are. The smaller boards (mostly used by more experienced riders and people who are shorter height) make the board feel lighter, and be able to perform tricks/spinning faster but can make landing neatly harder. Larger boards ( mostly used more by beginners and people who are taller because it helps with balance) are slower, have a smoother style. Smaller or larger boards can help distinguish one’s style.
How high the board sits on the water is directly affected by the width of the wakeboard. The three places to check the width, are in the tips and tails which are generally the same, and in the middle. The more narrow the tip and tail, the more aggressively the board will turn. The wider the tips and tails the better the board is adapted for surface tricks, and the better the release off the wake for spins. The width of the middle of the wakeboard is the main variable that decides how high it will sit in the water and how hard it will be able to pop off the water. The wider the middle the harder it is to pop off the water.
Wakeboarding- Fins and placement
The closer the fins are placed towards the center of the wakeboard, the quicker and better the wakeboard releases from the wake. The farther out towards the tip and tail they are placed, the longer the wakeboard will stay hooked into the wake and it won’t release as well.
Long based fins- Their effect is almost the same as a short fin with a long base because they have a similar amount of surface area. Long-based fins release better, give the wakeboard a loose, snowboard-like feel when riding flat through the water, and they hold up better on rails and ramps.
Moulded fins- These are just big channels in the board that act like fins and hold up on rails and ramps. Moulded fins are slippery, but most boards have a removable center fin.
Multi-finned set-ups- These capture the maximum edge hold and aggressiveness into the wake and through the wake.
Canted side fins- These are fins that lean out on an angle. These fins are not as active when the wakeboard is riding flat through the water, but the more you lean on edge the more the wakeboard hooks up. The inside fin digs while the outside lifts, creating leverage to help the wakeboard edge hard. Great for 50-50 grinds, nose presses and tail presses.
Cupped side fins- They have the same effect as canted fins but add more of a push-pull effect. The cupped fin allows you to use a smaller fin but still get the hold of a bigger fin due to the increased surface area of the cupped side of the fin. These fins are very deceiving – they look small and loose but really aren’t.
No Fins- Some riders prefer to ride finless, as some boards are specifically designed for cable parks or other uses, some uses of which can benefit from a finless design.