What Is Wakeboarding? Tips On How To Get Started

person wakeboarding

What is wakeboarding? While the concept may seem complicated, the sport is really quite easy to pick up.

Wakeboarding is a sport that combines water skiing, surfing, and snowboarding into one thrilling activity!

Best of all, you don't need a ton of equipment or hours of training to get started.

What Is Wakeboarding?

To answer the question, "what is wakeboarding?" we need to go back to when the sport was born in Australia during the 1980s.

Originally named skurfing, wakeboarding used bindingness hand-shaped boards designed exclusively for towing. These days, however, skurfing has given way to wakeboarding, which uses bindings.

Wakeboarding today has numerous offshoots and styles to choose from, including kneeboarding and wakeskating.

What Is Wakeboarding Equipment?

​The first thing you need to know when figuring out what is wakeboarding is what kind of equipment you'll need. Along with practice and skill, the equipment required for extreme sports like wakeboarding plays an essential role in the player's overall performance.

man in a water with his wakeboard

Image source: unsplash

Since wakeboarding requires precise movements and technique by the rider, the equipment that rider uses must compliment their style of riding.

Here are the essential pieces of equipment you'll need.

The Wakeboard


The most prominent piece of equipment is the wakeboard. However, not all wakeboards are the same. Wakeboards consist of foam, honeycomb or wood mixed with resin-coated with fiberglass. The final process involves inserting metal screws to attach the bindings and fins.

Wakeboards also come in different sizes. We recommend getting a board that's directly proportional to the rider's weight. Additionally, the width of the board will affect the way it sits on the water. The areas on the board where width really plays an important role are the tip, middle, and tail areas.

Narrower tips and tales tend to make the board turn more aggressively, whereas wider tails and tips can allow players to pull off certain tricks. The wider the middle area, the harder the board bounces off and sits higher in the water.

Like width, the length of your board also depends on your riding style. While smaller boards feel lighter and give you faster spins, they also are more difficult to land, whereas a larger board moves more smoothly and slowly.

The most popular wakeboards used today are 5 feet long with 2 feet width at the center along with a blunt nose and tail.

Wakeboard Types

The specific bending on a wakeboard from head to tail is called a rocker. Generally speaking, there are about five basic types of wakeboards depending on the rocker design; they are continuous rocker, camber, hybrid rocker, three-stage rocker, and five-stage rocker.

However, there are many variations of these types as well — at least 30 at last count. But don't feel overwhelmed; here are the basic profiles you need to learn first.

What is wakeboarding rocker type?

You can't learn what is wakeboarding until you learn the different types of rockers.

Continuous rocker: A wakeboard with a continuous rocker design moves fast as water flows without experiencing any disruption at the bottom of the board. It provides a smooth ride while remaining highly predictable. This board is what's considered a wake to flat board because it lands flat on the water following a wake wave.

Three-stage rocker: These boards push more water at the front side, which makes the ride slower. The center section of the board is flat to the ground. At the end of this flat center section, both the tip and tail have a more aggressive rise angle. The angle of the rocker creates more friction, which sacrifices speed. However, this bend can help riders jump higher for performing tricks because it has explosive pop off the wake, making it more of a wake to wakeboard.

Five-stage rocker: Similar to three-stage rocker boards with a slightly different bend, these rockers are also used for jumping higher and performing tricks.

Hybrid: These style boards are always pushing to give the rider the rideability and smooth consistency of a continuous rocker while still providing the aggressive pop of a three- or five-stage rocker.

Camber: These rocker lines are only available in Ronix boards. These rockers are also very similar to three-stage rocker lines with one significant difference. The flat spot found in the middle of three-stage rockers is concave on camber rocker lines. Another difference is weight distribution. On three-stage and continuous rocker lines, you feel more weight on your back foot, whereas with camber rocker lines, your weight feels more evenly distributed. This allows you a little more pop off the wave. But keep in mind that the landings may be even rougher than with a three- or five-stage rocker board.

Fins

Much like a surfboard, the fins on a wakeboard are fixed below the board and act as a pair of grips inhibiting the flow of water during travel. Fins control the forward movement of the board while riding. There are different placement configurations available, depending on the rider's preferences. These configurations can change based on the types of tricks the rider wants to perform while popping off a wave. The closer the fins are to the center of the board, the quicker and better it will sit and move on the water.

When fins are nearer to the tail and tip area, the board hooks more in the water and will not sit as well.

Here are some of the different types of fins.

Long based fins: These fins release better and give the board a smoother feel while riding on flat water. They hold up well on rails and ramps.

Molded fins: These fins resemble big channels and hold up against ramps and rails. But, they are more slippery as compared to other fin types.

Multi-finned set-ups: These fins capture the maximum aggressiveness through and into the wake.

Canted side fins: These fins lean at an angle. They stay inactive while the board travels flat. But when the rider starts to lean on the edges, they help the board hold up more. These types provide harder edges.

No fins: Some riders prefer to go finless. Many of these types of boards are designed specifically for cable parks as well as other uses.

What is wakeboarding binding?

​Bindings are used to hold the rider's feet in position while on the wakeboard. They connect the board to your feet. When the rider rides up the wake, the energy from the wake takes the rider airborne, allowing the rider to perform different tricks. Bindings make these tricks possible.

The two main types of bindings used by most players are open-toe and closed-toe bindings. Open-toe bindings look resemble shoes and offer a broader size and better toe movement. Closed-toe bindings give you more responsiveness while moving your toes.

Wakeboard boats


Wakeboard Boat and person wakeboarding

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Believe or not, not alt all motorboats work well for wakeboarding. With the sport's evolution has come a new type of boat designed specifically for wakeboarding. Wakeboard boats are different than other boats, in that the wakeboard tower comprises of stainless steel or aluminum tubing with the pull point 6.5 feet off the water surface.

These boats are designed to keep water inside, which also makes them heavier. By keeping the water inside, they try to pump out water, which creates big wakes behind the boat. Wakeboarding boats also have a considerable engine that allows them fast enough acceleration to keep the rider off the water.

Other essential wakeboarding equipment


Some other essential wakeboarding equipment includes a wet suit, life vest, helmet, and wakeboard line.

Wet suits: Riders use wet suits to keep their bodies warm in colder water. These suits are flat and don't allow for water to come inside. However, some riders may choose not to use wet suits as they can restrict their arm and leg movements. However, these suits are mandatory in specific wakeboarding tournaments.

Life vest: A life vest is an absolute must for wakeboarding. These devices can save your life and keep you afloat if you fall in the water, especially when you consider that your feet are bound to the board. Don't get on your board without one.

Helmet: This protective measure will protect your head and possibly save your life if you lose balance and hit the water at high speed. It essential, the same as a life vest.

Wakeboard line: This line connects the rider to the wakeboard boat. One end is attached to the boat while the other has a handle which the player holds on to. The typical length of the cord varies between 55 and 75 feet depending on the player's experience level.

What Is Wakeboarding In Six Easy Steps

Man Performing Wakeboarding

​Image source: pexels

​Learning how to wakeboard can be much more comfortable than learning how to surf. Now that you understand what is wakeboarding, here are six easy steps you can follow to get started.

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Step one: Set your feet

​You want to make sure you have adequately adjusted the bindings so that they are comfortable but tight on your feet. If they are too loose, you won't be able to maintain balance. And if they are too tight, your feet will hurt, and that's just no fun.

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Step two: Set the right speed

​No matter what the rider does, it is imperative for the driver to accelerate appropriately to help the rider get up to and maintain a consistent speed. Drivers should accelerate the boat between 18 to 20 miles per hour and hold it at that speed.

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Step three: Set the board

​Meanwhile, the rider should float with the flat underside of the board facing the back of the boat. The board should also be on its edge in the water, at a 90-degree angle to the water's surface. The rider needs to keep knees bent and arms relaxed while holding on to the tow rope.

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Step four: Let the boat lift you

​Most beginners make the mistake of trying to pull back against the force as the boat accelerates. The rider needs to remain in a crouched position while keeping the arms straight until the boat's acceleration pops the rider up to the surface of the water.

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Step five: Best foot forward

​Before you begin, decide which foot is more comfortable in the forward binding. A trick to help you decide is when you're on land, to have someone gently push you from behind and see which foot you put forward to maintain balance. Most people are more comfortable with their left foot forward.


Once the rider is up, they need to point their leading hip toward the tow-rope handle, which points the front foot at the back of the boat.

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Step six: Move side to side

To get a better feel for turning and going from wake to wake, first work on shifting your wake between your heels and your toes. This will help in setting the board on either its heelside (back edge) or toeside (front edge). Doing this will allows you to maneuver and cut back and forth.


Once you feel comfortable with the basics, it's time to start shredding some waves!

Getting In On The Wakeboarding Fun!

man wakeboarding

​Image source: unsplash

​​Now that you have the basics about what is wakeboarding, you're ready to tackle some waves. Just remember to keep safety as your primary focus. Always wear a life vest and helmet. Also, you want to make sure your bindings are secure both to your board and to your feet. For riders just starting out, it is best to find a good mentor and a wakeboard boat operator with experience.

After a bit of practice, you'll jump waves like a champ. But don't expect to start setting world records on your first try. You'll fall a lot, but that's just part of the process of getting better.

Have you waterskied or windsurfed before? How do you think it compares to wakeboarding now that you know more about it? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section. Good luck, and enjoy the waves!

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