Getting out on the water to wakeboard is a great way to cool off on a hot Florida afternoon. While we’re at it, we might as well talk about swimming, surfing, rafting, and tubing. For those living in coastal areas like southwest Florida, or others who are interested in holiday getaways in these areas, you will find everything you need to know about wakeboarding here. Be it a freshwater lake or even the mighty ocean, the water calls to us. All you must do to see this is go to a water park or even the beach and gaze at the large crowds. Everyone having fun in one way or the other. You come to realize that there is a massive amount of fun to be had from engaging in water activities aside from the ever-so-popular fishing and boating.
What is more exciting than riding on a boat? Gliding behind one! Remember the thrill you feel when going on a boat ride, double that in your imagination, and you get a rough idea of how much excitement comes from wakeboarding—little wonder why it is perceived as an addictive sport.
What is Wakeboarding?
The sport known as wakeboarding is a water sport that evolved from a combination of snowboarding, surfing, and water skiing. It merely refers to towing a rider behind a power boat using a rope or cable. The athlete rides on a wakeboard with rubber bindings to anchor their feet and steer the board.
As the motorboat speeds through the water, the rider glides behind the boat and can perform aerial tricks at various points of the ride along the boat’s wake.
Wakeboarding and its new variations are rapidly becoming popular among lovers of water sports and is regarded as one of the world’s fastest-growing water-board sport ever.
The History of Wakeboarding
Around 1985, Tony Finn strapped boots to a surfing board to ride behind a boat, giving rise to the wakeboard’s birth. Unknown to him, around the same time but in a different part of the United States, Jimmy Redmon was on to the same thing. The birth of wakeboarding came from the premise that surfers had to improvise an alternative to surfing whenever there were no waves.
These surfers would stand on the improvised board, known at the time as ‘Skurfers’ and get towed by a ‘loaded-up’ speedboat. The increased wake of the speedboat provided something similar to a surfing sensation for the athletes.
As the years moved by, boards more suited to this style of watersport started becoming popular and were initially made available by two brands: Surf-Ski and Mcski boards.
Wakeboarding Boats Offered by Ingman Marine
Ingman Marine is the foremost brand in boat sales and services in Charlotte and Sarasota counties of Florida. With experience gathered over 33 years, the family-owned boat dealership operates in four central locations in Florida: Port Charlotte, Sarasota, North Fort Myers, and Placida. The brand is notable for its attention to boat safety and functionality.
However, Ingman Marine does not stock new ‘wakeboard’ specific models but offers some manufacturers that provide wake towers or ski tow bars that can be used for wakeboarding. However, used wakeboard models are available from time to time such as Mastercraft, Malibu, and Tige.
New Boats offered by Ingman Marine that offer wakeboard accessories include:
How to Wakeboard
To get started, first, you make sure to choose the right wakeboard. An excellent feature to look out for is the size, and the number of fins at the back of the board – one or two is good enough for beginners. Choosing the correct wakeboard ensures that the learning process is more forgiving and that your mistakes are not drastic.
Aside from choosing a wakeboard, the rope you are to use should be shorter than the standard one. This allows you to stay closer to the boat and ride on a bigger wake, ensuring better board control throughout the ride. Do not forget to consider all the boat safety procedures while having fun, though.
Picking a Stance
After this, you have to determine your footing. When it comes to choosing a stance, there are two types:
- Regular Stance: This is the stance adopted by those who feel comfortable with their left leg as forward.
- Goofy Stance: This stance is taken by riders who are at ease with their right leg as the forward leg.
For those new to watersports, it is easy to determine what stance is best for you. One of the methods to get this is to sprint for a short distance and take note of the foot you use for your final step upon stopping – that is your leading foot.
Another way is to stand with both feet placed together and have an instructor push you, take note of the foot you place forward to prevent yourself from falling, that is most certainly your leading foot.
Upon getting the right stance, you can examine the angle in which your ankle feels comfortable when strapped to the board. This is important because your ankles, together with other parts of your body, help your balance, and this will place some stress at your feet. So, it is best to make yourself as comfortable as you can manage.
Wakeboard Tricks for Beginners
Wakeboard tricks that are easy for beginners to grasp include but are not limited to the following:
Surfing The Wake
When riding behind the motorboat, it is easy to start surfing the semi-liquid water coming out of the water of the boat.
You can achieve this by holding the handle of the rope or cable with the inside of your hands, then apply more pressure on the rear end of the wakeboard using your heels, now tilt to one side with force to create a jet of water.
Crossing The Wake
First, you set your eyes to where you want to go and then rotate your shoulders and chest to a position that makes them more open to the motorboat. You begin to shift the handle of the rope or cable across your hip, from the outside to the inside, at the same time moving your weight to your heels. Do not straighten your knees; keep them bent.
Remember to keep the rope close to your body and maintain your arms in a straight position.
Crossing Both Wakes
You can do this by crossing the wake to one side and then switching to the other side when you become placed directly behind the motorboat.
Wakeboard Parks Vs. Lakes
Wakeboarding is full of fun regardless of the venue, be it a cable park or freshwater lake, river or even the ocean. Although the majority of people prefer cable parks and freshwater lakes, you can wakeboard in the ocean if you have an approved saltwater boat with a ski-tow pylon. You just have to ensure that you take extra precautions when wakeboarding in open waters.
Popular Wakeboard Locations
Wakeboarding can be a dangerous watersport if the proper precautions are not taken. Wearing protective gear like a helmet and life vest will limit the damage to your body. Be sure to also use the proper gear: the right length of rope, boots that fit and the correct wakeboard size for your height/weight/skill level.
- Rope Handles
- Rope for wakeboarding
- Wakeboard Boots
- Wakeboard bindings for ankles
Types of Wakeboards
There are three main types of wakeboards:
The Continuous Wakeboard
This type of wakeboard is ideal for beginners as it is very forgiving for landings and allows easy turning. It can be recognized by the smooth curve that runs from its nose to its tail.
3-Stage Wakeboard Rocker
The 3-stage wakeboard rocker has the highest pop-off of all 3 of the types. It has a unique nose and tail with a flat base in the middle. Its shape is made of 3 flat surfaces.
It allows higher speed when riding behind the boat, and because of this, it has a rough landing.
The Hybrid Wakeboard
Just as its name implies, this type of wakeboard is a hybrid of the other two. It is made to combine the best attribute of both boards, giving you a wakeboard with a strong pop-off and forgiving landing.
Guide to Choosing the Right Wakeboard Size
When it comes to picking the right wakeboard size, it is advisable to take in account the rider’s weight. There are advantages to picking long or short wakeboards and knowing these will help you make the right choice.
Short wakeboards are harder to push through water and not as fast as long wakeboards, but they are easier to spin in the air. Landings are rougher on short wakeboards as the nose tends to dig in because of the smaller surface area.
Longer wakeboards are more comfortable to ride and are the best for beginners and those learning wakeboarding tricks. Although they are harder to maneuver in the air because of the increased weight, they give more control and softer landings.
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Wakeboard Protective Gear
Protective gear for wakeboarding makes sure you can have your fill of fun with no fear of injuries, they include:
- Wakeboarding Helmet
- Buoyancy Vest
Wakeboarding vs. Wakesurfing vs. Wakeskating
These three watersports are similar yet still different. They share identical origins and elements, but that is as far as the similarities go.
This involves riding behind a power boat using a wakeboard while holding onto a rope or cable attached to the boat. The rider’s feet are strapped to the board, and his/her knees need to be bent while elbows are kept close to the sides as a grip on the rope is maintained.
For wake surfing, the rider surfs the wake of the boat without holding on to any rope or cable. The feet are not bound to the board either. This watersport can be seen as surfing the waves created by a motorboat instead of the ocean.
You bring your regular skating to the water. You slip on a pair of old ‘skate’ shoes while keeping your feet free standing on the board, leaving them able to move the wakeboard as you would a skateboard. However, the board is slightly larger than the regular skating board yet smaller than a wakeboard. Similar to grip tape, the specialized board is covered in a material that prevent your feet from sliding out of control.
The Bottom Line
Wakeboarding and its variations have steadily grown in popularity. When wakeboarding first came out, boat manufacturers raced to create specialized wakeboard models and additional accessories to help store gear. Wakeboard boat models are created for watersport enthusiasts. However, if you happen to be more of a fisherman or are just looking to get into the sport, we suggest grabbing a fishing model that can be outfitted with a wakeboard tower or ski-pylon. This will make your boat and overall watersport machine, without any sport taking precedence.