No matter how tasty it is, most people never stick to just one flavor of ice cream. By the same token, wakeboarding isn't the only flavor of wake sport there is to enjoy. We talked with Danny Kennedy at Performance Ski and Surf in Orlando to preview a few more ways to enjoy the lake's wakes. Here are three scoops.
The Ride: The board doesn't stick to your feet! Instead of bindings, wakeskates act much like skateboards: There's grip tape on the board and the rider wears shoes. Your size and weight largely dictate what type of wakeboard to get, but wakeskates are much more about preference and feel. Long or short, concave or flat, it's all up to you.
Learning Curve: Tackling wakes with no bindings might take some getting used to. Anyone with skateboarding experience will feel right at home, though.
Best Suited: If you want to grind rails or other water objects, wakeskating might be for you. You'll also be able to try a whole new category of skate-style tricks, like kick flips. And if you don't have a boat, wake-
skating can very easily be performed from a personal watercraft or a winch.
Start-Up Cost: “We have a lot of people who don't even wakeboard come in and get a wakeskate,” says Kennedy. “It's easier to buy a wakeskate and a Jet Ski than it is to buy a wakeboard and a ski boat.” For established wakeboarders who already have a boat, all you need to buy is a basic wake-skate for about $100 and some wakeskate shoes for about $70.
The Ride: Built more like snowboards than traditional wakeboards, these thin, finless boards come closest to a normal wakeboard ride. The real difference is that these boards flex more because they're thin, and they have a much looser ride.
Learning Curve: Because you're still in bindings, this is probably the quickest transition from traditional-style boards. The feel of the ride is a bit different, but the mechanics of riding are pretty much identical. “They slide around real easy and have more of a snowboard feel,” says Kennedy.
Best Suited: While not so hot at wake-to-wake, alternative boards are great for just cruising along the water and generally offer a different riding feel. You trade hard tracking and responsiveness for a freer, easier ride.
“They're best suited to grinding rails and other obstacles,” adds Kennedy.
Start-Up Cost: $100 to $300. Setup's the same as traditional wakeboarding; you'll just need a new board.
The Ride: “You're going about eight or nine miles per hour, most of the time. You'll add some wake to the boat, and you'll drop the handle and surf the wakes,” explains Kennedy. Wakesurfing boards are, as you might guess, directional surf-style boards meant to be towed into a wake.
Learning Curve: Like wakeskating, the lack of bindings may take some getting used to for dedicated wakeboarders, and predictably, those with surfing experience get the hang of it faster.
Best Suited: If the water's choppy, either from weather or a lot of boat wake, then surf's up. A lot of wakeboarders bring along their wakesurf boards just to get a few sessions in at the end of the day after their boat has already roughed up the water. It's really refreshing to make good use of all that choppy water that you once resented.
Start-Up Cost: “Average price [for a board] is $279 to $350, give or take.” Other than a new board, the setup is pretty much the same as traditional wakeboarding, sans the bindings.