This July 6-8, crowds will be gathering at Wakestock: Europe’s biggest wakeboarding music festival. The event unfolds at Abersoch, Cardigan Bay in North Wales — with wakeboarding by day and performances by top musicians and DJs by night.
Besides getting people pumped to rock out when the sun sets, the sport featured during this epic weekend underlines that there is more to surfing than carving waves on a traditional board. But it’s not surfing’s only spin-off.
Here is some intel on five adrenaline-fueled board sports.
Wakeboarding sounds like it could mean hitching a skateboard to the back of a hearse. In fact, wakeboarding has nothing to do with funerals — it is a hybrid sport that developed from a mix of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing.
A wakeboard surfer is usually towed behind a motorboat at speeds of up to 24 miles per hour. Boards are buoyant with the core built of foam or honeycomb mixed with resin and plastered with fiberglass. The sport is normally performed in lakes. Deploying “edging” methods, a rider can glide outside the wake or cut in toward it. When you get good at wakeboarding, however you can advance to breathtaking aerial stunts like the ones showcased in the video above.
Wakeboarding was at first called “skurfing”. The sport emerged in the late 1980s after skiboarding — now known as snowboarding — was born. Pioneered in Australia, skurfing was just a bit rawer and rougher than wakeboarding on a shorter board.
Modern wakeboarding maneuvers run the gamut. Fancy moves include “blind judge”, “batwing”, “krypt”, Moby Dick and “whirlybird”.
Kiteboarding, or kitesurfing, mixes a bit of everything: wakeboarding, surfing, paragliding, windsurfing and acrobatics. Kiteboarding taps the power of the wind to drive a rider across the water on a small surfboard.
The sport is big on records of all kinds, encompassing both speed and endurance. French kiteboarder Sebastien Cattelan became the first sailor to break the 50 knots barrier by reaching 50.26 knots on October 3, 2008 at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge in Namibia.
The official 24-hour record for the longest kite surfing journey is fractionally under 200 nautical miles (370 km). It was achieved by American Phillip McCoy Midler, who kitesurfed from South Padre Island, Texas to Matagorda, Texas in May 2010.
Kitesurfing dates back to the 19th century when inventor George Pocock deployed giant kites to drive carts on land and ships on water.
Stomps (maneuvers) you can pull in the sport range from “walk of shame” and “zenith” to “nuking” and “kitemare”.
Have you ever seen a picture of a gondolier plying the waterways of Venice?
Stand-up paddleboarding or “SUP” resembles that spectacle. But it is harder than it looks to keep your balance. Plus SUP boards are huge, so just carrying them to the water is a workout in itself.
SUP has been popularised by big wave legend Laird Hamilton, who will take on any wave from the mighty Jaws to a meek pleat on a Hawaiian lagoon. If Hamilton reckons SUP is cool, it must be, the argument goes.
One undeniable plus of the sport is that you can do it even on so-so days when the waves are just wrinkles.
Though SUP is often thought to be a new fad, it actually dates back some 3,000 years to the dawn of surfing in Peru.
The sport of snowboarding — so unique and deeply ingrained in the extreme sports agenda — is actually a derivative of surfing, kiteboarding, sledding and skiing.
Snowboarding involves zooming down a snowy slope on a board hooked up to your feet by a special boot on a mounted binding. Like most kinds of boarding, it has its share of stunts with names like “shifty”, “poptart” and “bloody Dracula”.
Snowboarding’s booming popularity is mirrored by its recognition as an official sport that crops up everywhere from the Winter X Games to the Olympic Games. It dates right back to the 1920s, when boys and men would bind plywood or wooden planks from barrels to their feet using clotheslines and horse reins in order to guide themselves down hills.
Modern snowboarding kicked off in 1965 when Michigan engineer, Sherman Poppen, devised a toy for his daughter by joining two skis and attaching a rope to one end, so she would have some traction as she rode on the board.
On the surface, bodysurfing seems very straightfoward — surfing on your body without the help of a board. At most, all you need are flippers and maybe some goggles.
But if you have ever tried bodysurfing, you know how tricky it actually is. To achieve movement, you must time your launch, pick a direction, kick and stroke hard with your feet and arms and then use your back and outstretched arm to ride the wave sideways and downward. If you fail to time all that right, you will just flounder around like a whale, looking ridiculous. Don’t even ask how you execute a turn. One of the world’s top bodysurfing spots (shown in the video above) is The Wedge at Newport Beach, California, where waves can soar over 30 feet. Cue eye-popping wipeouts.
In Hawaii, body surfing is called “he’e umauma”, which means “sliding with the chest.” In Australia, body surfing is called “body bashing” — a wry nod to the reality of being dumped by ill-chosen waves. One of the sport’s biggest upsides, however, is its democratic slant. Anyone – young or old, rich or poor – can have a crack.
Stay tuned for the World Bodysurfing Championships, coming up on August 18 and 19.