There’s no clear cut answer to where wakeboarding started or who invented this superb sport. But what we know is that it evolved from many different sports, especially skiing and surfing. One of the earliest forms of wakeboarding started with surfers getting pulled out to sea by boats or even by a truck from the shoreline. Eventually, shorter boards made their appearance.
In 1985 one of the first wakeboards was developed by a Tony Finn, a surfer from San Diego. This wakeboard was called the Skurfer and was a combination of a surfboard and a water ski. He and his partner, John Hamilton, stated mass producing these wakeboards for Skurfer Inc. Skurfers were much thicker than the ones used today and looked like mini surfboards. Originally, they didn’t have any straps but eventually foot-straps were added to offer the rider more freedom, helping him perform difficult tricks.
Throughout the 80s, the boards kept getting better and in 1990 the first ever Skurfer championship was televised by the ESPN, but the sport wasn’t very popular yet. A strong need to modify the boards was felt that would allow riders much more freedom to carry out innovative and complex tricks that would draw big crowds.
Herb O’ Brien, is another big name who helped the water sport take a great leap. He was well-known in the water skiing business and owned H.O. Sports. He introduced something called the Hyperlite. It sparked a great growth of the sport that we today call by the name of wakeboarding.
The wakeboards produced by O’Brien had a slender shape, neutral buoyancy and phasers for breaking up the water adhesion, giving the boards a quicker ‘loose’ feel and allowed wake jump’s landings to be much softer. Soon, other companies followed suit and started producing wakeboards.
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As wakeboarding grew popular, the boards also kept evolving. The first Hyperlite wakeboards was shaped like a surfboard with a tip and tail. In the year 1993, Jimmy Redmon from Austin, Texas made the ‘twin-tip’ design, which was symmetric in shape and has become a standard in the sport as we know it today. These boards are designed with a fin on both its ends that allow a centred stance resulting in similar performance regardless of the wakeboarder’s forward or fakie (also called switchstance) position.
Redmon also founded The World Wakeboard Association, an international governing body for the sport in 1989. He is considered the ‘guru’ of wakeboarding and developed different formats and the rules of the sport.
In 1992, World Sports & Marketing, an event organizer and sports promoter from Florida, began staging the Pro Wakeboard Tour, making the sport flourish professionally. Later in 1993, a national publication called Wake Boarding Magazine was started by the World Publications. The event and the sports magazine still continue to grow today.
In 1998 – the Wakeboard World Cup and the Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding were started. Today, these including Pro Wakeboard Tour are the biggest titles that any professional rider would want to own.
Try the Liquid Force wakeboards should you want to indulge yourself in this water sport.