History of Wakeboarding

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Wakeboarding is a popular activity, yet many are unaware of how the sport got its start. It combines surfing, water skiing and snowboarding techniques for a thrilling activity. There are a lot of different variations that come into play with this activity, depending on the boarder’s ability level, preferred towing method, weight and gender.

How Wakeboarding First Started

When wakeboarding first started in the 1980’s, it was commonly known as skurfing. There were several early skurfers in different locations who helped develop the sport. Boards that would be used for wakeboarding were created by surfers in Australia and New Zealand who wanted a different sort of experience. Tony Finn (Owner of  one of the best wakeboard brands Liquid Force) and Jeff Darby were among some of the most notable early skurfers in this region. Howard Jacobs also designed early skurfboards in Florida.

Liquid Force Tony Finn and Jimmy Redmon

Liquid Force Tony Finn and Jimmy Redmon

Changes in Wakeboarding

There have been regular changes in how wakeboarding is done ever since the sport’s start. The earliest boards featured hydroslide pads, along with foot straps. Bruce McKee and Mitchell Ross debuted the first mass-produced boards in 1984. Early features included a concave bottom, keel fin and adjustable foot straps, all of which were designed to provide better movement. Patented designs ensured better strap and binding systems.During the sport’s early years, it was known as skiboarding. It gained much attention after the World Skiboard Association was founded in 1989. The next major changes would be brought about by Paul Fraser, along with his brother, Murray. Compression molded boards used for skurfing were first sold in 1991, made by Herb O’Brien from HO Sports, a close associate of Fraser’s. Because the movement of these boards changed considerably, this sport became known as wakeboarding. Several competitions were held regularly after the release of the compression molded boards. The World Skiboard Association officially changed its name to the World Wakeboard Association in light of its change in focus.

Popular Wakeboarding Brands

Byerly is one of the most innovative wakeboarding brands. The company was founded by an experienced wakeboarder in 2006. All of the boards are designed with the unique needs of competitive wakeboarders in mind. Hyperlite is one of the most recognizable brands in the world of wakeboarding. When it first premiered in 1990, compression wakeboards were introduced to the world. This has helped shape the whole sport. O’Brien is one of the most popular brands favored by professional wakeboarders and kneeboarders. Their selection of accessories is one of the largest ones available. Expert advice is readily available for new and seasoned boarders alike. Ronix‘s product lines draw on the experience of both engineers and experienced wakeboarders. The brand features one of the larger selections of products for women who wakeboard. It has a very visible social media presence.

International Top Wakeboarders 

Scoot Byerly, founder of the Byerly brand, is one of the most well-known figures in wakeboarding. His photos for the Rockstar energy drink have made him known even among those who don’t follow wakeboarding. He’s also known for The Butter Effect, performed with Aaron Reed in 2005.

Daniel Fetz from Austria has an impressive list of championships. He’s a 5 times Austrian champion and has won several other European and international titles. One of his most popular tricks by far is the Whirlybird. In addition to competitive wakeboarding, Fetz is also a snowboarder.

Lior Sofer hails from Israel and is known for the number of championships he’s achieved at his young age. Some of the highlights of his career include IWSF European and world championships. He’s sponsored by Ten-80, along with Three Team and Hyperlite.

Kim Yon Il from South Korea also boasts an impressive number of championships, especially in Asia. He’s very well-known for hios 80 to 85-foot rope length that allows him to perform impressive tricks. Sponsors include Republic and Skull Candy.


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