Wakeboarding is one of a number of sports that have attained world wide popularity in recent years through their association with the class of activities generally described as extreme sports.
Wakeboarding is performed using a specially designed item of equipment built to support a rider that is towed behind a relatively powerful motorboat, called a wakeboard. The equipment and the techniques employed to ride the wakeboard are a hybrid created from a number of sports, notably water skiing, surfing, and snowboarding. When wakeboarding was first developed as a water sport in the early 1980s, the signature equipment at that time was a "skurfer," built as a cross between a surfboard and a water ski.
Unlike water skiing, where the skier uses stationary ramps constructed on a water ski course to execute jumps, wakeboarding requires the tow boat to generate a large wake that the boarder uses to ride across and generate lift from the action of the wake. Similar to the construction of a snowboard, the rider's feet are attached to the wakeboard by way of non-release bindings.
The physics of riding a wakeboard are similar to both snowboarding and surfing. The rider seeks to maintain a low body position over the board, to permit both greater stability and to facilitate quick weight shifts to change the direction of the wake-board. The wakeboard has sharp edges along its entire perimeter, permitting the rider to carve turns in the manner of a slalom skier on snow. Once airborne, as the boarder is attached to both the wake-board and the two rope, the rider can execute any number of aerial tricks, including flips, rolls, and other sequential moves.
Wakeboarding has been a featured sport throughout the history of the X Games, the annual extreme sports festival. The World Wakeboard Association is the international body that sponsors competitions, where the athletes are subjectively judges on the quality and creativity of the tricks performed.
Although wakeboarding is itself a recently developed sport, it has given rise to another distinct sporting activity, wakeskating. Wakeskating is a form of wakeboarding that has been significantly influenced by skateboarding. The rider's feet are not attached to the board, one that is typically shorter than a conventional wakeboard. The surface of the wakeskating board is coated with a gripping material, and the rider seeks to operate the board using similar techniques to those employed by skateboarders on the ground.
Kneeboarding is another wakeboard variant, where the rider kneels on the board as it is pulled.