Wakeboarding Information


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dotThe sun's just rising and the water's like glass. You've got a fast boat on a big lake, and you're pulling your first hoochie glide of the day (read on for assistance with the lingo). Encouraging words from inside the boat are like music to your ears: "Dude, that was killer! It was totally sick!"

And the words ring true. You're pulling off some serious style while having a great time.

dotWakeboarding evolved partially out of waterskiing and partially out of surfing. Wakeboarders ride in a boat's wake on a scaled-down surfboard while performing spins and jumps.

dotWakeboarding is an international sport, with competitions held annually in Europe and the Far East. But North America is the hotbed and where it began as a sport.

According to Stoke City, historians have found evidence of surfers being towed behind boats years ago. In 1985, wakeboarding really planted its roots when a San Diego surfer developed a tiny board called the Skurfer, a crude, strapless ancestor of the wakeboard.

Florida, in particular, is where the pros from both Canada and the U.S. meet for pre-season prep in early spring.

Lisa St. John, owner of Aquatics Sports Training, explains why Florida is the place to be. "Because every day is a ski day here, a wakeboard day. I've done this school for seven years in Orlando, and...we've never ever closed the school, except for hurricane Floyd, the big one!"

"The water's warm. When you're learning any sport, we try to make it so that the conditions are not a consideration....The conditions here [allow you to] focus totally on what you're learning and here, the water conditions are beautiful. You don't have to deal with the cold or the wind or the rain!"

dotThey're not household names, but professional wakeboarders are achieving fame for their aggressive and stylish riding. Don't think you have to turn pro to do this sport. It's plenty of fun just as a summer recreation.

There are two types of board -- directional, or surf-style boards, and twin tips. Directional boards have front and back ends, like a surfboard. A twin tip has what looks like two back ends.

Most riders choose twin tip boards because they allow them to ride and jump backwards. Other necessary items include boots and bindings -- similar to downhill skis or snowboards -- a helmet and a life jacket.

dotLike any other sport, wakeboarding has its own language. Here are some of the basics:

Fakie
When you ride on your opposite foot. Left-foot-forward riders go right foot forward.
Blind Side
When you rotate or land so that you can't see where you're going.
Tantrums
A group of moves in which you approach the wake backwards, then flip the board to travel sideways through wake.
Raleys
When the board is flung out behind your body in the air. Basically you're flying!
Hoochie Glide
It's similar to a raley except you grab your wakeboard with a heel side or front hand grab.
Mobius
When you let go of the towrope and spin around to grab it again.

Many people who ride wakeboards can be found on snowboards during the winter or on skateboards on dry land. The boards look a lot like snowboards and have similar binding systems.

dotIf you really enjoy this sport, you might even turn pro! Most pros, says Stoke City, aren't much older than 22 or 23.

Or, you may find yourself working for one of the wakeboard companies. If you don't, there are plenty of career options in the marine sports field. You may find yourself working on boats and motors or selling treats at a marina concession.

Getting Started

dotThis is a sport that requires plenty of practising. Those in the know suggest you take a few lessons first -- that way you'll be riding sooner, with fewer spills.

Lessons are offered at nearly every water-sports haven. Shops that offer lessons in regular waterskiing will also likely offer lessons in wakeboarding. Phone around to the shops to find out more.

dotSome wakeboarders say it's easier to wakeboard than to water ski, mainly because it's easier to balance on the wider board with firmer bindings. The first ride can be an adventure, but once you're up, you'll never forget how to do it -- kind of like learning to ride a bike!

dotAn important thing to keep in mind is the potential expense of wakeboarding. It's not as easy as putting on your rattiest sneakers and throwing a skateboard under your feet. Wakeboarding is a little more upscale and financially draining. You'll need safety equipment, a board, a boat and money for fuel.

Brian MacPherson, executive director of Water Ski Canada, wants to dispel the myth that wakeboarding is a rich kid's sport, he admits that becoming a pro costs bucks. Traveling to Florida each year for pre-season training costs money. As well, it's tough to hold a permanent job when you have to pick up and go to training camps and tournaments. "These athletes have a hard time," says MacPherson.

However, there are ways around financial barriers. When starting out, see if you even like the sport. Tag along with a friend who's got access to the gear. As well, most ski clubs are eager to introduce newcomers to the sport and will lend out their equipment for a few bucks. Then, you can decide whether or not to invest in your own stuff.

Because most riders are between the ages of 15 and 24, says MacPherson, they still depend on family income.

USA Water Ski has a long list of affiliated schools and camps that offer wakeboard training. Here are just a couple of them:

Education

World Ski and Wakeboard Center
Cory Picko's World Ski and Wakeboard School
716 Slalom Way
Santa Rosa Beach , FL   32459
USA
YMCA Camp Thunderbird
One Thunderbird Lane
Lake Wylie , SC   29710
USA
Internethttp://www.campthunderbird.org/

Associations

World Wakeboard Association
Internethttp://www.thewwa.com/

American Wakeboard Association
799 Overton Dr.
Winter Haven , FL   33884
USA
Internethttp://www.usawaterski.org/pages/divisions/wakeboa
rd/main.htm

Publications

Wakeboarding Online
Internethttp://www.wakeboardingmag.com/Frontdoor/

Links

Pro Wakeboard Tour
Up-to-date contest coverage

WakeWorld
An all-wakeboarding site packed with links, news and gear information

Swiss Wakeboard Association
Wakeboarding is hot around the world!