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The origins of Wakeboarding


Posted by Neil B under Wakeboarding, Wakesurfing on 6 April 2013 at 11:00 PM

Ever wondered who came up with the crazy idea of surfing behind a high powered boat to allow awesome tricks and jumps to be performed? Here's the story of the Origins of Wakeboarding as we know it today.


Wakeboarding's origins lie in a number of different sports. Wakeboarding has incorporated aspects of surfing, snowboarding and water-skiing to form a hybrid of the three that has taken the water sports world by storm. The combination of speed, agility and the tricks that it's possible to pull off while wakeboarding make it an incredibly popular sport for thrill seekers worldwide. Usually a boat tows a wakeboarder in its wake at high speeds. The wakeboarder can then use the wake of the boat to gain air and do tricks. The wakeboard itself is designed to skim over the top of the water, much the same as surf boards. They possess fins underneath to provide stability and allow steering and have feet bindings on the top to allow the wakeboarder to jump out of the water without fear of losing their wakeboard. 

Tony Finn

There is no cut and dried start point for the origins of Wakeboarding and no single inventor of the wakeboard. However, there are two prominent and founding names in the world of Wakeboarding. Tony Finn, a surfer from San Diego created a board that was a combination of a surf board and water skis. He introduced it in 1985, and users were towed using a boat as in current day Wakeboarding. This early form of the wakeboard did not have foot straps on it however. This meant riders were limited to simple carving moves across the boats wake. However, shortly after this bindings were added to the new board.

Jimmy RedmonAt the same time as Tony Finn was developing this 'skurfer board', Jimmy Redmon, a surfer from Austin, had the idea to try surfing behind a boat. At the time he was working in a surf shop and so had the knowledge and ability to make modified surf boards for this purpose. He added foot straps to his wakeboard design from the start and quickly began grabbing attention around the lakes of Austin. Sensing the potential of his new invention, he quit university and set up his own wakeboarding company. Indeed in 1988 Redmon founded the World Wakeboard Association (WWA). This was a governing body for the sport, which created a number of competitions and also outlined a number of rules and regulations for the sport.

It was a chance meeting at a trade show between these two pioneering minds that led to the emergence of wakeboarding as we know it today. Wakeboardings origins can be traced back to both of these men. While at first they were rivals and competitors, they soon realised that their complimentary skill sets would work best together. However, it wasn't until 1991 that Finn and Redmon joined together, forming Waketech. They continued to innovate their wakeboards, until in 1993, they had a breakthrough moment; the twin tip board. It was an innovation that would change the sport forever. By 1995, the success of the new twin-tip boards was soaring, so the two men set up Liquid Force and quickly set about making boards. They branded their sponsored riders head to toe with liquid force gear and pushed the brand heavily at competitions. Liquid Force became a power brand in the Wakeboarding world.

Since then, Wakeboarding has gone from strength to strength and with the emergence of the Pro Wakeboard Tour, The Wakeboard World Cup and the Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding, the sport of wakeboarding has emerged as a major force in water sports. 

More recently the emergence of Cable parks, which mean Wakeboarding can be carried out without the need for a boat, has opened the sport up to a much larger audience. Finn and Redmond are successfully utilising this by creating the 'free for all' wakeboarding tour sponsored by liquid force. This allows beginners to come to various cable parks, try out the cables and wakeboarding for the first time and get hints and tips from professionals completely for free. 

Wakeboarding has come a long way since its origins and is now well and truly a mainstream sport and Finn and Redmon have been the trailblazers that have taken it there. So if you ever find yourself without any waves to surf, give wakeboarding a try. It is more than likely that you will never look back.