June 18, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

Wakeboarding Is Not Just For Rich Kids Anymore

Want to go wakeboarding? Cool, hook up the fifty thousand dollar boat to the F-350, fill the gas tanks, drop it in the lake and go carve it up. There is nothing like the feeling of setting the edge of the board and throwing spray across the lake. Unfortunately not everybody has access to a nice boat, or the time to deal with everything else involved in setting up a great wakeboarding session. Fortunately there is a revolution under way that is making wakeboarding accessible to everyone. There are now three new ways to ride without the use of a boat. Cable parks, winches and kites have not only made wakeboarding cheaper, but have also opened up all kinds of new water terrain for people to ride.

The cables parks came first. With borrowed technology from ski resort chair lifts, cable parks utilize a rope tow running in a large circle around man made lakes. For fifty bucks or so wakeboarders can buy a pass, grab the rope as it comes around, and get towed around the lake. Cable parks are opening up around the country, many with multiple lakes for riders of different skill levels or style. The man made lakes are designed to maintain the perfect depth, and are excellent for placing obstacles like sliders and kickers for riders to challenge their skills on. Cable parks are also a great venue to host wakeboarding contests, and many professional riders spend a majority of their time honing their skills riding the cables.

Winches are another great solution for getting out on the water and riding. About the size of a suitcase, and available for far less than the cost of a boat, about $1500, a winch can be set up in all kinds of locations from small ponds, between docks, along canals and even streams, rivers, and at the ocean beach! Winches provide riders with a straight line run of about five to six hundred feet, and sometimes more. Many wakeboarders use winches to pull them through rail parks or across a unique water feature, as they are limited to riding one run at a time, and in a more or less straight line. Winches simply require one friend to operate while the other rides, a few gallons of gas for an entire day, and can be easily transported from one spot to another.

Kites are possibly the coolest and most amazing new source of pull for wakeboarders. Kiteboarding has just recently developed in the last few years into a giant water sport of its own, and for many wakeboarders being pulled by the kite offers them the ultimate freedom to ride completely under their own power, in any direction wherever they feel like going, and through all kinds of water from choppy lakes to buttery smooth glass, ocean waves to water just a few inches deep that they could never access when being pulled by a boat. The best part for many riders is that there is no taking turns when your riding behind a kite, and you can stay out and ride as long as you want, at least until the wind dies. Kiteboarding kites are packed down into the size of a back back when not being used, weigh only a few pounds total, can be set up, launched, and landed with no assistance, and once in the air are capable of pulling riders in almost any direction, including straight up. The high performance kites pull as hard as a wakeboard boat, are steered by the rider to pull left or right, or up, allowing wakeboarders to soar 40 feet in the air or more. The rider can also control the amount of wind the kite is catching, to create more of less pull from the kite while riding. If the kite crashes in the water it is no big deal, they are desinged to relaunch, and many of them do this very easily. Although it is a little more complicated than other types of wakeboarding where riders are simply holding on and riding, kiteboarder’s have to ride and drive at the same time, the freedom and rewards of wakeboarding behind the kite are unequaled in the sport. Although a kite setup with everything you need generally costs about $3000, once you have the gear there are no other expenses, no gas, no maintenance or service, and no one else is required to drive or operate the gear.

Anyway you ride, wakeboarding is a ton of fun, and one way another it is now available to the public and not just the kids who’s parents have the house on the lake and the boat that costs as much as a college education.