Recreational and competitive water sport in which a person is pulled across the surface of the water on a wakeboard, usually about 1.2 m/4 ft long and 0.6 m/2 ft across the middle, by means of an tow rope attached to a speedboat. The wakeboarder, whose feet are strapped to the board with bindings, zigzags across the ‘wake’ (the ramp of water created by the pulling boat), and uses props such as take-off platforms to execute jumps, flips, and other manoeuvres.
Some wakeboarding manoeuvres are similar to those performed in barefoot and freestyle water-skiing, but others are derived from surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding. In the 1990s wakeboarding was one of the world's fastest growing water sports. A World Cup series is held every year, and wakeboarding is one of the main events at the X-Games, the annual festival of so-called extreme or alternative sports.
Wakeboarding originated in the USA in the 1980s, evolving from the occasional practice of surfboard water skiing. Its principal pioneers were Tony Finn, a Californian surfer, who introduced the first manufactured wakeboard, the Skurfer, in 1985–86, and Jimmy Redmon, from Austin, Texas, who as well as founding the World Wakeboard Association in 1989, made many important innovations in wakeboard design.
The World Wakeboarding Association holds an annual World Championship, and the World Wakeboard Council of the International Water Ski Federation (recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the international governing body for the sport) held their rival world championships for the first time in September 2000.