Wakeboarding continues to grow
The world of extreme sports has seen a giant increase in the level of intensity in recent years, and wakeboarding is definitely no exception.
“In the last couple of years the riders have really stepped it up,” said Bubba Henderson of Double Up wakeboards and Hardline ropes. Wakeboarding in itself is a simple enough concept to grasp. A rider is towed behind a boat via a rope and handle and that’s it. Or at least that was supposed to be it.
But like any sport, the world of wakeboarding evolved and continues to evolve with each passing day.
The evolution of the sport started with the riders and quickly spread to the gear needed to ride in the direction they wanted to take the sport.
Wakeboards started with a directional design with three fins in the back, the boards where know as Scurfers. It didn’t take long for the boards to develop past this point to a compressed board which allows the rider to ride in both regular and switch stance (switch is the opposite of the way one would comfortably ride).
Wakeskates are another new advancement in the world of water sports. Wakeskates are shaped like wakeboards, but instead of having bindings they have grip tape like a skateboard. Wakeboard companies are also developing shorter surfboards to carve around behind the boats.
“With wakeboarding, skating and surfing you really can’t get burnt out. There’s so many different aspects of the sports,” Henderson said.
Bindings have also changed a great deal. The first bindings resembled something one would find on a windsurf board. The bindings consisted of a single strap to slide over top of one’s foot. Today bindings resemble a boot. Some have laces and Velcro, while others have overlays made out of rubber straps.
The next step seemed to lie in the rope and handle. Hardline ropes are known as 100 percent zero stretch. This means a rider is able to get an instant response when pulling against the boat to gain speed instead of having a several second delay until the rope reaches maximum stretch.
The latest step in this evolutionary process deals with the boats. Not just the boat itself, but also in the size and shape of the boats wake and how the rider’s rope is attached to the boat.
Traditionally ropes where attached to the back of the boat. New wakeboard boats have the option of adding a “tower.” A tower stretches above the boat, allowing the riders to be pulled up into the air during a jump instead of being forced back towards the water.
When it comes to the boats wake, weight is what it’s all about.
“No matter what kind of boat you have, you still need more weight,” Henderson said as he filled up the ballast tanks on the Centurion.
Ballast tanks are a new feature built into the boat to add weight. On this particular boat there were three ballast tanks; one in the center of the boat, and two in the back, one on each side of the engine. The tanks have hoses to pump water into the tanks and weigh down the boat so the wake is bigger. Ballast tanks store anywhere from 500 to 1,200 pounds of water for the three tanks.
Henderson also adds a “fat sack” or two and a 78-pound weight to add more weight to the boat. Fat sacks look like giant duffel bags that can be filled with up to 500 pounds of water.
In order to make sure the wake stays consistent, most wakeboard boats now come equipped with cruise control.
In order to get the most pop off of the wake; boats do what is called a double up. A double up is when a boat does a 360 degree turn and runs over its wake at a 90 degree angle.
“The waves converge to form a giant quarter pipe,” Henderson said.
One reason the sport of wakeboarding has grown so much in recent years is due to digital video cameras.
Pro riders compete from March until late September and usually spend the off season filming.
“Kids are now able to make money wakeboarding,” Henderson said. “I think it’s awesome, they’re definitely doing something respectable. They can build and make ramps and rails, shot it, make a video and make money.”
The latest trend in wakeboarding videos is building rails and boxes.
“Kids will make giant boxes which hold water, stretching the length of their yard leading up to a rail. They’ll take off in the box and jump to the rail and slid the length of it into the lake,” Henderson said.
Another aspect of the sport continually changing is the tricks. “People will take an existing trick and change a grab or the way they take off and add their own style to it to make it look totally different.
With how quickly the world of wakeboarding has evolved, one thing is sure; no one knows how big this sport is willing to go.
For more information of wakeboard equipment visit http://www.doubleup.com
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