Wakeboarding vs. Wakesurfing

October 07, 2015

How many of the water sport veterans remember the days when all you saw were water-skiers out on the water?

Yep, that was a long time ago. Head out on the water today and you’ll see skiers, boarders, tubers and surfers.

With the influx of riding styles on lakes today, it’s easy to see how the watersports industry has evolved during the last five decades.

When people were first hitting the water back in the day, you mostly saw skiers. As technology advanced, watersports enthusiasts began experimenting to find new ways to fuel an adrenaline rush.

Enter wakeboarding and wakesurfing.

Fast-forward twenty years and more and more people are trading in their water skis for boards. Just look at the popularity of events such as the Wakeboard World Series and the growing number of young riders at wakeparks, and you can easily see this evolution occurring.

If you are a water sports junkie, the differences between wakeboarding and wakesurfing may be as apparent as land and water, but if you are new to the world of watersports and are in search of the next big wave of excitement, you’ll want to know the differences between the two before you head out on the lake.

Here is what you need to know…

First, whereas water skiing allows a rider to sail smoothly across the water, wakeboarding and wakesurfing utilize wakes and waves for a ride similar to snowboarding or surfing.

There are a couple of key fundamental differences between wakeboarding and wakesurfing to note – the first being the way a rider stands on the board. On a wakeboard, riders strap their feet into boots connected to the board, similar to snowboarding. On the flip side, wakesurfers ride as if they are on a surfboard, freely standing.

Additionally, like skiing, wakeboarders hold onto a rope, connected to the boat all the time. Wakesurfing does not require the rider hold onto a rope all the time. Like wakeboarding, wake surfers grasp a rope to stand up on the board, but upon gaining body control and balance on the board, the rider releases the rope and begins to surf the boat-made waves. If you are struggling to get up on the water, check out this valuable resource from USA Water Ski.

By strapping into a wakeboard, riders can stay connected to the board while performing aerial tricks. Since wakeboarders ride holding onto a rope, they can reach faster speeds and launch their boards over wakes to reach breathtaking heights.

For skateboarders looking to try their hand at another sport, wakesurfing might be for you. Boating Magazine touched on the trick styles of the two watersports, and noted that skate boarding tricks cross over to wakesurfing very easily. If you are already performing tricks like kickflips and shuvits on land, you’ll probably find those tricks easier to master on the water than one who has never skated.

While surfers can only ride a wave in the ocean until it breaks, wakesurfers can ride for extended periods of time due to the constant wake created by the boat. With waves constantly coming your way, you can do things like play a guitar while you surf – like this guy

In addition to the riding style, wake surfboards are typically longer than a wakeboard, measuring four to five feet in length. Styles range from skim-style boards, which are shorter than wakeboards, and the longer surf-style boards, which are better for beginners. New riders can check out some great information provided by Wakeboarding Magazine on guidelines to consider when choosing a wakeboard or wakesurfer.

One other important note is the type of boat used for both styles. Unlike tubing where a simple motorboat can be used, wakeboarding and wakesurfing require a specially designed boat. These boats feature inboard engines that create the wake and are specifically weighted for optimal wake conditions.

For safety purposes, wakesurfing requires an inboard boat where the propeller is under the boat and a greater distance from the rider. The right boat and engine can go a long way in determining one’s success in the sport. If you are in the market for a tow boat, check out what Centurion and Nautique have to offer.

The evolution of water sports would not be possible without the advancements in technology and innovations in boat and engine design. We here at PCM are determined to continue to deliver innovative products that will launch watersports to greater heights.

Our recent launch of our HYPERFORMANCE engines reflects our desire to produce industry-leading products aimed at propelling watersports forward. As we, and others in the industry, continue to develop new technology, who knows what we’ll be riding across the water on, or behind, 50 years from now.