Originally created 07/03/96

Wakeboarding Q&A

Who started the wakeboarding movement?

A: Although the origins of the wakeboard are disputed, most in the sport agree that California surfer Tony Finn came up with the first wakeboard in 1985. He called it a "skurfer."

Q: How many people are wakeboarding?

A: In 1991, about 100,000 people were wakeboarding. By 1995, the number had grown to 750,000, according to the Water Sports Industry Association.

Q: Outside Augusta, where is wakeboarding popular?

A: Central Florida, which hosts to numerous competitions and is home to many professionals, is definitely the hot spot for wakeboarding. It's starting to become popular in parts of the Midwest, where there are lots of lakes, particularly in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The sport is also hot in California.

Q: How much does a board cost?

A: Boards cost between $200 and $800. The wide variation in price is often due to the foot binding. Beginners often start with a foot strap with elastic bungees, but intermediate and more advanced boarders use boards with boot bindings that resemble those on water-ski boots. Wakeboarders pay a higher price for lighter, trick boards.

Q: Can I rent a board before I buy?

A: In this area, Neptune Dive & Ski in North Augusta will rent wakeboards. Co-owner Cindy Elam rents boards for $10 a day. Two places boards can be purchased locally are Neptune and Open Water Sports in Martinez.

Q: I don't have a boat. How much will it cost for me to buy one for wakeboarding? And how does that compare with a ski boat?

A: Wakeboarders can be towed behind any kind of boat, even a personal watercraft, which costs about $5,000. Water-skiers must plunkdown much more for a serious ski boat, which usually costs between $20,000 and $30,000.

Q: Can I rent a boat?

A: Because the insurance is expensive, few businesses rent ski boats. But you can rent a personal watercraft for $35 for 30 minutes or $50 an hour at Little River Marina and Family Resort in Leah.

Q: Is there any safety equipment to buy?

A: Just a life vest. Although some professionals are wearing helmets for competition, helmets are not yet considered mandatory - although they might be if wakeboarders continue "bonking" - or ricocheting off docks and ramps.

Q: Where can I learn more about the sport?

A: Your best bet is at a water-ski shop. You can also buy copies of WakeBoarding Magazine at a ski shop for $2.95. Or you can check out the magazine's home page on the Internet.

If you're really hooked, you can attend a wakeboarding camp. There are several operating in Orlando, Fla., including The Wakeboard Camp, (407) 352-7296, and the camp at O-Town Water Sports, (407) 380-0734.

The Wakeboard Camp offers daily instruction for $120 a day. O-Town Water Sports offers lessons by the set, which consists of 20 minutes of ski time. The cost is $30 a set for instruction; two sets for $55, three sets for $80 or a full day of four sets for $100.

Q: What do you call this sport? Do people say, "Let's go out and wakeboard"?

A: `Wakeboard as a verb isn't very poetic," said Tom James, editor of WakeBoarding Magazine. "We tend to say, `Let's go ride' or `let's go board.' Wakeboarders often refer to themselves as "riders" or "boarders."


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