The Future of Wakeboarding?

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What’s the future of wakeboarding?  When Stokemeter.com first started, we had just about every pro wakeboarder on our show over a period of about a year and a half.  The question about the future of wakeboarding was asked just about as many times as, “dude, how fast you ride and what’s your rope length?”   More often than not the answer revolved around the topics of cables and winches.   Sometimes they were brought up with enthusiasm and other times exuding a sense of dread.  We’re talking serious dread vibes like the kind your friend sends your way just before he has to kiss his grandma with a mustache fuller than his own.

I can agree that cable parks and winches offer more access to the sport of wakeboarding, but are they really the “future” of wakeboarding?

I have to admit I’ve never been on the end of a cable or winch.  The people I know who have tell me it rocks, but I’m not sure if it’s because they spent $467 on a flight to Orlando, $300 bucks on a cheap motel, and $180 on a week pass to the Orlando Water Complex.   If I spent a grand on razor blade underwear I would let everybody know they were the most comfy man package I have ever had the privilege to wear.    I’m sure they are both fun and I’d give anything to have either a cable park next door or personally own a winch but that’s not really the point.

What is the future of wakeboarding? I guess it really depends on what makes up the “future”.  Is the future of the sport going to be defined by what increases the total number of people involved in wakeboarding?    Sure, every sport relies on consumers who support their industry with dollars spent.   If nobody is buying the product, then manufacturers won’t be around long to supply that product.  Just ask the guy who is making elastic wakeboard ropes how that gig is going.   So, when it’s all said and done, will the access provided by cable parks and winches help to keep the pulse of wakeboarding healthy and ultimately define the future of the sport?  Maybe, maybe not.   What else is there?

If you break wakeboarding down to its basic components, all you really end up with is a board, bindings, rope, a bunch of water, and something to pull your tub of lard across that water at speed.  Historically speaking, engineers spent gobs of money trying to get the flattest wake possible for slalom skiers.  Then in what I consider one of the most humorous turn of events in water sports history, the Skurfer was invented which eventually became what we now call the wakeboard.  Suddenly all those engineers who were beating their brains out to flatten the wake behind their boats by another inch were scrambling to do everything possible to create the largest wake possible!  Sometimes history creates the best comedy all on its own.

Up to this point the most popular options available to pull a person happily across the water were by boat, cable, and winch.  I will throw all the different types of water craft into the boat category even though I understand they aren’t exactly the same as cruising around your favorite body of water in a Mastercraft X80 or whatever “Mercedes on the water” vessel you are lucky enough for your Dad to own and let you use.   Using a cable to pull you around includes things such as the Sesitec, System 2.0 or something that uses a cable to pull you around that wishes it was the Sesitec, System 2.0.  The next option is to buy a pre-made winch system or risk the loss of multiple fingers and most likely an arm by making your own out of a lawn mower you found behind your grandpas shed and your little brothers tricycle.

After boats, cables, and winches,  the quality of the tow falls off quickly as people resort to using such things as motorcycles, trucks, airplanes, donkeys, or whatever else is around in an attempt to get their wakeboarding fix.  The scar on my right leg after attempting to ride a Chevy truck hood down a canal being pulled behind a hoodless Chevy truck supports this statement.  I knew I should have removed the hood latch.

The only real exception I can think of might be kiteboarding, but in my mind that’s in a class all of it’s own due to the unreliability of the wind in most places.  At least I can pour cold water on my buddy who owns the boat to get him going, but I haven’t come up with a working strategy to call the wind into action when I want it.  Besides, wind and wakeboarding go together like avocados and ice cream.

Maybe someone will come up with a good substitute that will replace the big three.  The only other option is to change up the other variables such as the board, bindings, water, or rope.  That can get dicey.  As much as a face plant in water can get your attention, I can only imagine what one would feel like on land.  Actually, in one of my upcoming reviews I will probably find out.  Anyway, after carefully analyzing the current options available to tow a person wanting to wakeboard across the water with a boat, cable, or winch, against other viable options, I came up with a whole bunch of nothing.  Sure, I spent about five minutes thinking about it while eating a half thawed frozen burrito with a show about tourism in Vietnam on the television playing.   I still consider it a quality five minutes and have added a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels to my list of things to do in my lifetime.

So what is the future of wakeboarding?  Hopefully I’ll be around long enough to find out.  I will say this….

There’s nothing like being towed behind a boat. I don’t think anything now or in the future will change that. Glass, fully ballasted boat, a tower, tunes pumping, friends…there is no substitute for that. The perfect wake will always be the epitome of what it is and means to be wakeboarding.

Everything else might further the sport but the future is already here.

-Kartch