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The Complete History of Wakeboarding

Rohini Mohan
Though wakeboarding is considered an extreme sport, it is more of a lifestyle for many. The wakeboard has undergone several modifications and has come a long way since its beginning.

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The history of the extreme sport of wakeboarding, begins with surfing because the wakeboard took its design inspiration from the surfboard. This came long after cable wakeboarding had begun to spread as a popular culture.

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It was Bruno Rexin a German engineer, who conceptualized the design of the cable wakeboard during the 1950s when he experienced the thrills of water skiing for the first time. The need for change in the design was felt when surfers could not paddle their way out of humongous waves.

Evolution of the Skurf Board

During the 1980s, Tony Finn developed the 'SKURFER' which was a smaller sized surfboard. Though he was not the first to make the skurf board, this smaller version of the surfboard was created by board shaper Allan Byrne and his friend Kevin Jarett along with other friends. Allan lent one of his skurf boards to his friend Jeff Darby from Queensland Australia.
Thereafter, Tony Finn contacted Jeff Darby and undertook the production of more skurfer boards under a royalty. The skurfer board did not have feet straps in its initial designs, however, straps were soon added to enable riders to perform complex tricks and maneuvers without falling off their boards.
The Skurfer.Inc mass manufactured the boards and soon more riders were picking up the skurfer, which was also known as the ski board. More modifications were made so as to reduce the board's high buoyancy, which helped improve its design.
Three other prominent contributors to the history of wakeboarding include, Herb O'Brien the owner of H.O Sports and two other representatives - Murray and his brother Paul Fraser.
The company had been trying to popularize the scurfer for snowboarders and that is when they came up with the idea of fixing feet binders like the ones found on snowboards. They visualized the design of a snowboard on water and that is how the new design came about and it as informally named the 'Wakeboard'.
H.O Sports manufactured the first neutral buoyancy wakeboard with the help of some of the best surfboard shapers from Hawaii. This new model was compressed as well as molded, and its unique design gave a huge boost to the popularity of wakeboarding.

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Though the boards did not begin to get thinner until a decade later, the boards that did come out, had sharper edges and phasers with dimples on the board that smoothened the ride as well as landing.

Debut in World Sports

Another huge step forward was when in 1989, the 'World Skiboard Association' was founded and in 1990 ESPN organized the first ever Skurfer Championship in Hawaii. At first, not many signed up for the events because people were having difficulty balancing on the boards.
The next year the Hyper light wakeboard was manufactured, the same year also saw Eric Perez battling hard in order to defend his title while competing against Darin Shapiro.

World Wakeboard Association

1992 saw the first ever US National for wakeboarding in Colorado Springs, was hosted by Tommy Phillips. Soon, many wakeboarding competitions began to be held all over the US and was enlisted as a competitive sport under the X Games II. The World Skiboard Association was founded by Redmon, which later renamed itself as the (WWA) World Wakeboard Association.

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There were newer modifications being constantly added, that introduced twin forked tails on the wakeboards. These features let the riders perform extreme tricks with greater ease.
These twin tip boards came with a fin on either ends which made a balanced central stance possible while riding forward as well as while performing the switchstance or fakie style.
In 1993, this extreme sports received permit for starting out with its own national publication which was called the 'Wake Boarding Magazine'. This magazine was launched by World Publications and is still one of the most popular magazines on this sport.

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The year 1998 added another page to the wakeboarding history, as this was the year, two more competitions were added to the Pro Wakeboard Tour. Competitions, Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding and the Wakeboard World Cup introduced the sliders and jump ramps to this sport.

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Surfing and wakeboarding are interrelated, if you know how to surf you can skurf as well. So learn how skurf your way through the waves!