Differences Between Wakeboarding, Wakeskating and Wakesurfing

These three watersports share striking similarities. It is easy to mistake one sport for another, but there are clear differences between them.


What is wakeboarding?

Wakeboarding involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water. A motorboat tows the rider at speeds of between 30 and 40 mph. Close-course cable systems, personal watercraft, and winches are alternative towing methods.

A History of Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding as an organized sport began as early as 1946. The International Waterski Federation governs the sport. The International Olympic Committee has recognized wakeboarding. It has been part of the World Games since 2005. The World Wakeboard Association authorizes about 400 days of wakeboarding per year.

The first practitioners of the sport called it skurfing. Australians and New Zealanders first created small, hand-shaped board without bindings. Jeff Darby borrowed a skurf board from a friend and made a board like it. He contacted legendary surfer Tony Finn. The two men produced the original skurfer board under royalty. Finn's tireless promotion earned the skurfer recognition as a viable product.

In 1983, surfer Howard Jacobs assembled wakeboards by adding windsurfing foot straps to surfboards. He began to use them to do back flips along the Jacksonville River.

Surfer Paul Fraser coined the term "wakeboarding." He contacted Herb O'Brien, the founder of HO Sports. O'Brien manufactured and sold the Hyperlite wakeboard in 1981. The board defined the water sport.

The Hyperlite wakeboard made its debut at the 2nd World Skiboard Championships in Colorado. Since then, skiboard championships have emerged all over the United States.

How to wakeboard

Wakeboarding is a mix of water skiing and skateboarding. You can make it as easy or challenging as you wish. You can use any wave as a launching pad with some practice.

Finding your feet

Before you start wakeboarding, decide which foot you want to put forward. Choose the foot that you put in front on instinct.

Using a shorter rope

If you are a beginning wakeboarder, getting up on a wakeboard will not be easy. A short rope will be helpful in helping you stand upright on your wakeboard.

Getting up on a wakeboard

Ensure that the foot that you put forward is close to the tip of the board. The tip of the board should be the one closest to the boat. Lean on your back foot to prevent the board from going under water.

Use a stance that is suitable for beginners. A beginner's standing position makes it easy for you to control and navigate the board. Place the back binding of the wakeboard toward the board's end, aligning it at zero degrees. This way,the rider can put his weight on top of the back fin. The front binding should be at a 15 to 27 degree angle, towards the board's front.

Position your body in the same way you would when sitting on a chair. Keep the board's edge at the surface of the water and hold onto the rope as the boat picks up speed.

Wakeboards are easy to get up on because their surface areas are large. Beginning wakeboarders should choose wakeboards with lower rockers. A lower rocker allows them better control of the board. They should also choose boards with wider fins, as they connect more with the water.


You can wakeboard behind almost any boat. That said, the best boats for wakeboarding are inboard boats. They do not have outdrives, and come with a set of tracking fins. The boat you buy should displace enough water to create a huge wave.

The Pros and Cons of Wakeboarding


Wakeboarding is safer than wakeskating or wakesurfing. Since you are board bound, the likelihood of crashes is lower. It is suitable for you if you are new to water sports.

A boat tows you when you wakeboard. Holding a rope gives you security.

Wakeboards are smaller and lighter than surfboards. They are easy to store and carry around.


Though you are safer when you are board bound, performing stunts is harder. The foot bindings restrict your movement.


What is wakeskating?

Wakeskating is the twin brother of wakeboarding. It is like wakeboarding, but you are not bound to the board in any way.

Griptape covers the surface of a wakeboard. It secures the rider, who wears shoes so that he can avoid having to fit the board with accessories.

Not being board-bound challenges the rider. Crashes are a given norm. Board manufacturers cover wakeskates with EVA foam, which allows a skilled rider more traction.

A history of wakeskating

Wakeskating took place as early as the 1970s. Riders rode behind boats with long surfboards. Wakeboards soon became shorter than surfboards.

Wakeskating started when skaters began to put grip tape on old wakeboards. Hence, many riders who have backgrounds in skateboarding take up the sport.

Wakeskating has gained traction among the younger crowd. It is popular across the globe, especially in its country of origin, The United States.

How to wakeskate


Shoes are an important aspect of wakeskating. Wakeskating experts suggest that you wear shoes as you have to stand on grip tape. You may wear an old pair of athletic shoes if you are just starting to wakeskate. If you are proficient at the sport, it is better to invest in a pair of wakeskate shoes.

Getting up on a wakeskate

As with all other water sports, you will need to stand up on a wakeskate. Float in the water, pushing the wakeskate under the surface so that you can stand on it. Bend your front foot more that your back foot. Make sure that the tip of the board that is close to the boat is close to the surface of the water.


Boat drivers tow wakeboarders and wakeskaters the same way. They do not need to use as much throttle as they would pulling water skiers. Wakeskate behind almost any boat.

The Pros and Cons of Wakeskating


Wakeskating provides more enjoyment than the other two sports. Not being board bound allows you to do stunts. If you are a skateboarder, you will be able adapt to this sport and show off your skills.

Though you are not board bound, the sport is safe. The rope secures you.

Like wakeboards, wakeskates are light and small. Carrying and storing them is not a challenge.


You must learn to maintain your balance when you wakeskate. Without board bindings, it is easier to fall off the board. Make sure that you wear athletic shoes so that you can stand on the grip tape.


What is wakesurfing

When wakesurfing, a rider trails behind a boat and rides in its wake. The boat does not tow him.

He uses a tow rope to help him get up in he wake. After doing so, he drops the rope. He rides the wake as he would when surfing.


The origins of wakesurfing are disputable. No one has a definite date when the sport started.

Some claim that the sport began in the 1920s, but there is no direct evidence of this. There is footage of people riding behind boats on surfboards in the 1950s. Manufacturers claimed to have built wake-specific boards in the 1960s. The practice of surfing behind boats continued into the 1970s.

Jeff Page, Jerry Price, Rick Lee and Tim Lopes are pioneers of the sport. Alfonso Corona created the first patented wakeboard.

How to wakesurf

The start

Begin by sitting in the water. Hold the rope in your hand on the side of the boat's wake.

Place your feet on the surfboard, about a shoulder width apart. Stand with the bottom of your feet facing the boat. Hold the rope, which should be at the center of the board between your feet.

Moving off

The boat will then move ahead and take the slack out of the rope. At this point, push down with your heels on the edge of the board. You will bring the board into contact with the soles of your feet.

Getting up

Once the boat touch the soles of your feet, signal to the boat driver to pull you up. Stand up and turn in the direction the boat is traveling.

Decide the side of the wake on which you wish to ride. Most beginners prefer to ride facing the wake. Gauge when he no longer need the rope. As soon as you feel comfortable, release it on the opposite side of the wake for those in the boat to retrieve.

The Pros and Cons of Wakesurfing


This sport is as enjoyable as wakeboarding or wakeskating. Not being board enables you to do surfing stunts. You will also experience an adrenaline rush when you let go of the rope. If you are an experienced surfer, this sport is one you should have in mind.

You use a surfboard when you wakesurf. The board is longer, giving you more room to maintain proper posture and balance. It is a safe water sport.


It is better to try this sport if you have experience surfing. You will have to let go of the rope and manage the control of the board on your own.

The differences between wakeskating, wakesurfing and wakeboarding

Despite these descriptions, it is hard to tell these water sports apart. Here are the differences between them.


When wakeboarding, you ride a wakeboard with bindings. A wakeboard is smaller than a surfboard. You may choose to wear shoes or not. A boat tows you as you ride the wake.


Wakeskating involves doing similar tricks as skateboarding. These include kickflips, heelflips and hardflips. These skills make it easy for a skateboarder to adapt to the sport.

Unlike wakeboarding or wake surfing, riders are strongly encouraged to wear shoes. Wakeskates have grip tape on their surfaces. Wearing shoes make it easy for you to stand on the grip tape.

The relative freedom of wakeboardng distinguishes it from the other watersports. You are not bound to the board. Griptape anchors you instead. Wakeskates, like wakeboards, are smaller than the surfboards used for wakesurfing.


Wakesurfing, like surfing, involves the use of longer boards. Unlike wakeboarding or wakeskating, the board does not tow you. With a good grasp of these water sports, you can choose the rght one for you.

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