If you love being on the water and having fun while you’re there, wake sports offer the chance for all this and much more. Comprised of wakeboarding, wakeskating and wakesurfing, these sports combine some of the most exciting aspects of surfing, water skiing and snowboarding to create an experience unlike any other. Relatively new sports, they have quickly become favorites of many who love to catch a good wave while enjoying some fun in the sun.
Wakeboarding, very similar to water skiing, involves using a combination of water skiing, surfing and snowboarding moves to create a unique experience on the water. The person is usually towed out on the water behind a boat at a speed of 20-25 miles per hour, allowing them to do plenty of tricks that will keep people talking long afterward. Some of the most popular tricks include the Surface 360, where the rider spins the board 360 degrees while riding on the water’s surface and the Fashion Air, where the rider curls the board up underneath them, arches their back and throws their back hand up behind their head to strike a winning pose.
Known as skurfing when it started in the late 1980’s, wakeboarding has had many prominent riders over the years including Shaun Murray, Greg Nelson and Billy Garcia. A major boost for the sport came when it was added as an official sport of the X Games, bringing it to the attention of a whole new generation of fans. As with any sport, being the best often starts with having the best equipment. Some of the top brands of wakeboarding equipment include Hyperlite, Liquid Force and Ronix.
Wakeskating, which can trace its origins to the late 1970’s, is a variation of wakeboarding but with one major difference. Wakeskaters use the same type of board as do wakeboarders, but they are not attached to the board in any way, making the ride even more challenging. Compared to skateboarding on water, most waterskaters ride barefoot to give them an extra feel for their board. Much like skateboarding, the boards used in waterskating are much shorter than those used in wakeboarding. This has allowed the sport to be done not only on large bodies of open water, but also on much smaller areas such as ponds or small lakes.
The majority of tricks used in waterskating are based on those found in skateboarding. In recent years, many of the best tricks have centered around the flip tricks that are commonly done by experienced skateboarders. Some of the most popular waterskaters that have come from the skateboarding ranks include Nick Taylor, Reed Hansen and Ben Horan, all of whom are known for doing their best tricks while being pulled by jet skis rather than boats. This allows for some extra versatility, speed and the ability to perform on smaller bodies of water. Like wakeboarding, some of the most popular equipment manufacturers include Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Ronix and Goodwood.
Wakesurfing is just as it sounds, with the surfer trailing behind a boat while surfing the wave created by the boat’s wake. Like wakeskating, the surfer is not attached to the board and is also not attached directly to the boat. After using a tow rope to get on top of the wake, the surfer gets to ride and mimic the look and feel of being on the wild waves of an ocean. Dating back as far as the 1950’s, the sport is not really seen as being recognized until the 1980’s when the technology allowed for boards to be created that would increase the size of the wakes.
Like the other wake sports, wakesurfing is known for its share of unique tricks. Some of the most popular include the Fire Hydrant and the Hang Five. The Fire Hydrant is done by placing one hand on the board while taking the front foot off, while the Hang Five has the rider extending their front foot over the front of their board. A recent twist on the sport has seen wakesurfers following large ships and surfing on their wake, allowing them to ride wakes that are almost one mile long. Some of the more prominent wakesurfers riding boards from Hyperlite, Ronix and Liquid Force include Jeff Page, Jerry Price and Rick Lee.
As with most water sports, these three all have similarities and differences. As the younger generation gets introduced to them through sporting events and other means, it’s a good bet you’ll be seeing more and more people doing the Fire Hydrant, Hang Five and many other tricks to show off their skills.