Do you know how wakeboarding has become one of the most popular sports? Do wakeboarding and surfing have a common origin? How about if we tell you a little bit about the origins of this water sport, which is gaining more and more fans every day due to the thrill of its practice.
So you call yourself a wake fanatic, but you don’t know its history. First of all, we must make it clear to you that it is not only surfing that this sport has an affinity with, but also water skiing. That’s where we’ll start…
Once upon a time there was water skiing…
It all started with an idea, just like the great inventions of history. In 1922, a young man named Ralph Samuelson, 18 years old, had the idea that skiing was a sport that could also be practised on water, and that it was just a matter of trying out how to make it possible.
The first steps are always the most difficult.
In his early days Samuelson tried using barrel staves and wanted to be pulled by a boat and when he failed, he tried using simple snow skis, but just couldn’t do it.
After failed attempts, the young man decided to build his own water skis using boards measuring approximately 240 x 22 centimetres, which he strapped to his feet with leather straps attached to his feet.
He then made a 30.5 metre rope with an iron ring that he used as a handle and tied the rope to a boat. His brother was the driver of the boat, who raised its speed to the maximum to reach a speed of 32 km/h. He had finally found a good formula.
Gradually Ralph perfected the technique and his equipment, making exhibitions in his discovered sport on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota, and for 15 years he proved that water skiing could be done and was just as fascinating.
Another of Samuelson’s famous activities is that he was the first man to be towed by a Great War seaplane, at a speed of 130 km/2.
However, Samuelson never patented his inventions, so it was Fred Waller who patented the first water skis in 1925.
The history of wakeboarding
You already know the history of water skiing, the early predecessor of wakeboarding. Now we go back to the 1980s, where wakeboarding, as we know it today, was born and is one of the most popular water sports.
The exact origin of wakeboarding, like many other historical events, is unknown, the sport was the result of a combination of techniques and sports already existing in different parts of the world.
The best known theory is that wakeboarding is an evolution of surfing, or a variation of the same sport called skurfer, whereby surfers were taken by boat to safe spots to reach large waves and improve speeds.
On the other hand, skurfing, where the skurfer is pulled by a boat using a water ski rope and a surfboard.
The main difference is that the skurfer used thicker boards than those known today in wakeboarding, and did not have bindings at the feet. Later they were incorporated to give the rider more freedom to execute more complex manoeuvres and tricks with the weights attached to the board.
Today wakeboarding is a water sport with a well-defined set of rules and equipment, which have been continuously improved and added to from other sports. Nowadays the boat wakes and boards are very different from what they were in the past, as well as the riders’ manoeuvres are becoming more and more complex, reaching speeds unimaginable in the past.
A big name that cannot be overlooked when it comes to the birth of wakeboarding is the name of Herb O’Brien, owner of HO Sports and one of the driving forces behind water skiing.
Boards continue to evolve and there are many brands and companies that continue to innovate to improve the way the sport is practiced and enjoyed.