What is Wakeboarding? A Simple Explanation

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What is wakeboarding? What is needed for wakeboarding? Is wakeboarding hard to learn? We have the answers!

If you’re into watersports, wakeboarding is a perfect option for you. It is one of the coolest, exciting and super fun watersports. This sport is packed with action and has a lot of thrilling experiences to offer. But before planning to learn this wonderful sport, you need to know everything about it. With that in mind, we have compiled this article with all the information about wakeboarding, from its history to how to learn it.

We also discuss how it is different from other watersports such as kitesurfing and kneeboarding. This article is going to be super interesting, so male sure you stick till the end!

What Is Wakeboarding?

what is wakeboarding illustration

Basically, wakeboarding is a combination of three common watersports: water skiing, surfing and snowboarding. During the sport, the rider is carefully fastened to a wakeboard and is towed behind a motorboat. Maximum speed during wakeboarding can reach above 30 miles per hour, hence one needs a great fitness level and a lot of practice.

If you’re confused as to how wakeboarding is a combination of three watersports, here is your answer :

  • Water Skiing: In wakeboarding, the rider essentially performs skiing across the water. The only difference is, he uses a single board instead of two.
  • Surfing: This is because the rider rides the water waves using only one board. While they are towed by a motorboat, they still have a rope to hold on.
  • Snowboarding: Just like they do on the snow, a rider maneuvers across the water using a single board.

Due to this combination, the original name of wakeboarding was kept “skurfing” but later on named as wakeboarding.

So, what makes wakeboarding unique and different from other watersports?

There are some distinct points that make wakeboarding different from these sports and in fact the most exciting watersport.

The biggest factor that makes wakeboarding shine among its kind is the fact that a rider glides on the water using only one board which is secured to a boat. Depending on the expertise of the rider and the speed of the boat, the speed can range from 5 to 30 miles per hour.

The best part about wakeboarding is, the more you practice the more you become skilled and the more you enjoy the sport. With some good learnings and a lot of experience, you can start showing off your tricks on your wakeboard behind a boat. Wakeboarding is not only fun to perform but is equally entertaining to watch.

What Is Needed For Wakeboarding?

There are three main requirements of wakeboarding: A steady fitness level, a good amount of practice and the right set of equipment. Let’s discuss all of this in detail :

Fitness Level For Wakeboarding

First and the foremost requirement for wakeboarding is a good fitness level. This is because a rider has to keep himself on the board while he is gliding on the water pulled by a speedy motorboat. It is as challenging as it sounds. However, it’s not impossible!

This sport can be a little tricky at starting especially when you don’t have any experience. It will need a good amount of dedication and patience before you get the hang of it. While you don’t need any special skills to play on the wakeboard, with strong arms, core muscles and good fitness level, it will become very easy to learn and master. A rider needs an ample amount of strength and fitness to master this sport. You can become an acrobat with loose arms, weaker joints and poor stamina – it’s no brainer!

Practice And Training

a wakeboarding jump
Photo by Jack van Tricht on Unsplash

Not just wakeboarding, you can’t master anything in your life without enough practice. If you’re new to watersport, you’ll have to give plenty of time in learning about the ins and outs of the sport before actually getting started with it. A good idea is to approach an experienced trainer and seek help from him.

Right Set Of Equipment

Finally, you’ll need the right set of gear and equipment to get started with the sport. You simply can’t go wakeboarding without the required equipment but if you still do that, know that it’s going to be a disaster. The right equipment not only makes your sporting experience easy and convenient but also keeps you safe on the water waves. You can either buy the equipment yourself or considering renting them from your nearest ocean center.

Wakeboarding equipment basics

Below is a complete list of wakeboarding equipment you will need:


First and foremost, you’ll need a boat. Wakeboarding makes no sense without a boat. The type of boat you select directly affect your wakeboarding skills and performance. Hence, it should be selected carefully. Because boats are pretty expensive, we don’t recommend buying one unless you’ve got a great budget. You can always rent them at a much cheaper cost.


The next important equipment for wakeboarding is a good quality wakeboard. It should be chosen carefully as a wrong wakeboard can be an invitation to disaster. You should have a sturdy and reliable board that has functional fins for easy maneuvering and has the ability to fight with tough water waves. There are instances when wakeboarder had to suffer great injuries by using low-quality boards.


Bindings are the fixed boots designed for skiing and similar sports. In the case of wakeboards, there is a variety of binding options you can choose from. They are available as adjustable boots, velcro bindings and high back boots.

Beginners are generally recommended to use the velcro bindings as offer great stability and comfort at the same time. Adjustable boots on the other hand are perfect for experienced players. They offer extra support and flexibility to the rider. Lastly, the high back boot bindings are recommended for the experts who are performing high-level tricks on the water and need maximum protection.


Rope is used to fasten the wakeboard to the boat. You’ve to hold it for performing different tricks and transitions. Shorter ropes offer better control and command than the longer ones. So, if you’re a beginner, you should use a good quality short rope. After gaining some experience, you can start wakeboarding using a long rope that offers plenty of stretching.


A good quality wetsuit with perfect fittings is another important thing for wakeboarding. Your wetsuit should be thick enough to provide you comfort and protection from the harsh water waves. If you’re wakeboarding in an ocean, you’ll need a thick wetsuit but if you’re performing in a lake, a thin wetsuit will do the job.

Buoyancy Aid

If you think that buoyancy aid is similar to a life jacket, you’re absolutely wrong!

The job of a life jacket is to keep someone afloat if they accidentally come off their board or boat. On the other hand, a buoyancy aid allows one to swim properly after landing in water. We recommend choosing a buoyancy aid over a life jacket because it allows you to get back to your board by swimming. It’s more safe and convenient.

So, this is the list of equipment you need for wakeboarding. However, you don’t need to buy all of this at the time you start. You can begin practicing with only a good board and a wetsuit and rent the other things from a nearby local center.

You don’t always need to spend hundreds of dollars for enjoying this wonderful sport!

Why Is It Called Wakeboarding?

A man wakeboarding towed by a bow in deep sea

So, why is it called wakeboarding? As we already discussed, this sport was initially named as “skurfing” by combining the names of three famous sports: skiing, surfing and snowboarding. Ao, how come it named as wakeboarding later?

To know this, we have to turn the pages of wakeboarding history!

History of Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding has its root in 1980s. This time, two young men have made their versions of wakeboarding that we used today. The sport was born in Australia when a man, Jeff Darby called his new water activity skurfing. After that, Darby with his friends started making their own skurfing boards that were designed to be fastened and towed behind motorboats. This inventions led them to open a company named as “Skurfer”.

While this was happening in Australia, another man was working towards this idea during the same period. He was Howard Jacobs, a Florida based surfer. He also started making his own style of boards designed to be pulled behind motorboats, but his design and idea was slightly different from ‘skurfer’.

So, it was Howard Jacobs who came up with the idea of designing wakeboards by fixing pads and foot straps. These boards are more safe and convenient for being pulled back behind a boat.

This is how wakeboarding born. From this moment onwards, it became one of the most exciting and popular water sport. It gained so much name and enthusiasm in the 1980s that it was officially added to the X Games as a competitive sport.

How Dangerous Is Wakeboarding?

Every sport and activity is dangerous if performed without knowledge and practice. Similar is the case with wakeboarding. If done in the wrong ways, it can cause serious injuries. Some of these include, head blows, ruptured eardrums, sprains, strains, bruises, abrasions caused by sudden falling. Apart from these, dislocation of shoulder, knee and wrist joints is also possible during wakeboarding. This is the why it’s very important to perform wakeboarding after attaining the required fitness level and training.

Is Wakeboarding Hard To Learn?

If you really want to learn this sport, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. While it’s true that wakeboarding is a bit tricky, you can easily learn it if you’re dedicated towards it. We have discussed it thousands of times that you need to train and practice with full dedication and passion if you want to learn this amazing sport.

What Is The Difference Between Wakeboarding And Kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing and wakeboarding are two distinct sports that are confused with one another owing to some similarities. To know the difference between both water sports, you need to understand what each of them is about.

When talking about the similarities, both of them incur the same use of wind, waves and traction. But still both are different things. However, if you know or understand any one of them, you can learn other with great convenience and ease.

As you know by now, wakeboarding is very close to water skiing in which the rider is towed on the water with a rope fastened to a boat but instead of two boards, the participant use only single board.

Also, the speed of riders depends on the speed of the boat but they can control the boat for easy maneuvering.

Kitesurfing on the other hand is another water sport that too involves a board but it is attached to a kite which is very huge and resembles a parachute. The rider performs on the board while standing and make use of the traction and wind generated by the parachute to bring speed and glide on the water.

Kitesurfing is a water sport that too involves a board but it is attached to a kite which is very huge and resembles a parachute
Kitesurfing is a water sport that too involves a board but it is attached to a kite which is very huge and resembles a parachute

If you are interested to know more about the difference between them, read this post.

What Is The Difference Between Wakeboarding And Kneeboarding?

Even when most of the people use the terms wakeboarding and kneeboarding interchangeably, both of these are two different sports despite having a few similarities.

The biggest difference between kneeboarding and wakeboarding is their form. As the name suggests, kneeboarding involves kneeling on the board as you’re towed behind the boat. On the other hand, wakeboarding entails you standing on the board and pulled by the tow boat.

Further, kneeboarding has the rider facing in the same direction of the tow boat. You can also hold on to the rope while using the kneeboard. In wakeboarding, the rider mostly faces sideways and hold the top with one hand.

Final Words

Wakeboarding is one of the most interesting watersports that is not only fun to perform but is delightful to watch as well. With proper practice and training, you can easily start performing it. We have discussed everything about the sport in detail, we hope it helps you in starting your journey on a wakeboard.