Behind the Boat – Lake Martin–The Basics and a few fundamentals
This may seem simple to some, but I get asked or see some confusion in the difference between wakeboarding, wakeskating and wakesurfing. I think most know what wakeboarding is, but when you mention wakeskating or wakesurfing there are more people confused with them so I figured a little sport definition might be in order.
Wakeboarding is the easy one, you have bindings mounted on a composite or wood core board, and the rider varies in rope length from 55-75 feet and in speed from the upper teens to mid twenties depending on the rider. That being said, a beginner will typically be at the shortest line length and the slowest speed. A beginner will work on cutting in to the wake for one wake jumps until comfortable enough to edge out far enough to pull in and jump one wake, riding down the other side- “going wake to wake / w2w” . Once a rider progresses and is able to consistently clear his/her w2w jump, we usually speed up a little and lengthen the rope 5 feet. This will give the rider more speed and a greater distance to clear in the width of the wake, continuing on this pattern until you are comfortable at a 70 foot line. The speed is usually slightly rider choice at that point, you will see some guys/girls pick up a 1/10 of a mile and hour here or there as a personal preference. Also, we have the rider that lengthens the rope more and may want more speed. If the boat can produce a clean lip and weighted correctly, longer rope and more speed equals boosting bigger, more air and time to do tricks. Keith Lyman and Randall Harris always comes to mind when I think about the high speed rider at long line, like 100ft rope at 27 mph.. those guys go big and I’ve talked to some friends that have driven them, apparently it’s something to see.
Wakeskating I think is where people get a little confused, the sport kind of came and went. there’s still a pro tour, but is really unfortunate the lack of support the sport has (probably my favorite to watch!) It’s a difficult sport because just like on a skateboard, you are not bound to it, where you are on a wakeboard. The falls on a skate, are both plentiful and painful when your learning. The griptape doesn’t befriend skin, it removes it quite quickly.. and hitting the board after you separate from it and reconnect with it on impact to the water…well it hurts.. which I think are a few of the reasons it lost some of it’s popularity. The boat will still go similar speed and rope lengths in progression of rider as you would if you were wakeboarding. Going wake to wake on a skate is a bit different that doing it on a wakeboard. As you can imagine, not being bound to it. You do wear skate shoes and the board has griptape like on a skateboard. (There are some boards made with a rubber type grip but not very popular amongst riders) You don’t HAVE to wear shoes and I must admit it’s fun to play around barefoot on one but do go w2w or do most of your tricks it’s very beneficial to use shoes. Wakesurfing and wakeskating I think get people a little mixed up because your not bound to the board on both. The tricks on the wakesurfboard are much like the ones on the skate, shuvits, 3shuvs, backside bigspins etc.. The wakesurfer is ridden right behind the boat at slow speeds about 10-11 mph. There are two styles of wakesurfing. Surf style and skim style, which are from their origin. The surf style is a reshaped surfboard. It’s shorter, and has different shaped rails, much less rounded than an ocean surfer. You will have similar fin set ups from ocean to wake on the surf style. They are big deep fins and sometimes have 5 locations which gives an enormous amount of options for setting the board up. I will say that we are seeing the surf style riders get more and more of the tricks that were only done on a skim style incorporated into their runs, it’s pretty amazing to see a surf style rider hit a back big or a 3 shuv!! The skim style is a modified version of a ocean skimboard. the more fins, the tighter the ride, it’s locked in the straight line, the single fin would be the loosest. The skim style surfer will typically be shorter and wider, especially in the nose and have more rocker. (that means the nose is curved up more.) Skim style boards typically have a single fin, its the opposite of a surf style, it’s long and shallow in comparison. There are some skim style that has 3 fins for a extremely tight ride but still is not near that of the surf style on it’s loosest setup. There are some boards that have been designed with sort of a hybrid of both which might be a good option for a “everyone in the boat board” but realistically, boards should be sized for the rider. A small kid will have a miserable time on a board that’s to large for him/her and the same goes for the big rider on one that’s to small, it’s no fun and you can’t throw the rope and surf.. so getting the right equipment is pretty important if you really wanna surf, have fun and progress!!