What Is Wakeboarding?
Source: Action Sports International (http://www.actionsportsinternational.com)
Wakeboarding is a relatively new watersport that first gained popularity back in the mid 1990s. Wakeboarding is a combination of waterskiing and snowboarding and it blends key elements of these 2 sports to produce a great and highly exhilarating new way to have some serious fun on the water.
Compared to other tow-based sports such as waterskiing, wakeboarding is relatively easy to learn and most beginners are able to get up on their board after a few runs in the presence of a good Wakeboarding Instructor. With a bit of practise, many can do their first hops across the wake within just a few hours.
Unlike wind-based sports such as kitesurfing that require little more than some appropriate equipment and a windy day, wakeboarding requires a bit more organisation and logistics such as a boat, a driver, and a spotter (someone sat in the boat facing backwards telling the driver of any hand signals you make or if you have fallen). Wakeboarding therefore requires a bit more ongoing cost than most wind-based watersports, the average rate for a 15 minute tow being between £20 and £30. However, dont let this put you off as in our experience 15 minutes is usually plenty (wakeboarding gives you a pretty good workout) and a 15 minute session will usually leave you exhausted and grinning from ear to ear.
Cable parks (ski ropes attached to a large moving loop of cable around a mass of water) are becoming more and more popular these days and enable multiple wakeboarders to safely use the same stretch of water. However, they are better suited to more competent wakeboarders as they tend to be full of rails and sliders so you need to know what you're doing.
In our opinion, having lessons with a trained professional coach is a really good idea as it will not only dramatically improve your learning curve but it will also teach you some of the not-so-obvious skills and etiquette that you will require, such as how to properly communicate with your driver, how to get your feet back into your bindings while treading water, what to avoid doing when in close proximity to the boat etc. Try to avoid the temptation of letting someone inexperienced take you out for the first time. This could be a slow way to learn and it may teach you bad habits that will hinder your progression. Just call your local Wakeboard Club instead - it really will will be money well spent.
A good instructor will spend a certain amount of time on land-based activities but will be keen to get you straight out on the water. Try not to panic though as this really is the best way to learn. In our experience most total beginners are able to get going within just a few attempts once they have been let in on a few trade secrets.
Interestingly, one of the most difficult things that novices find doing is holding a straight line and staying directly behind the boat. The power in the rope and your twisted posture often makes first-timers load their heels and drift quite quickly over to one side of the boat - and then get stuck there! Our initial Wakeboard Instruction and early Wakeboarding Lessons focus on performing basic exercises and mastering the fundamentals of board control before even attempting to do anything impressive.
As with all watersports there is always an element of danger associated with wakeboarding, but by having professional lessons from the outset and by ensuring that you know some basic dos and donts the risks reduce dramatically. One thing is for sure though. There arent many watersports that are as fast and thrilling as wakeboarding.