What’s the Difference Between Wakeboarding and Water Skiing and Which Is Easier?

What's the Difference Between Wakeboarding and Water Skiing and Which Is Easier?

Planning to go on a vacation as soon as the ongoing pandemic ends? Why not consider going water skiing — or is it wakeboarding?

Sometimes, people confuse wakeboarding with water skiing. While the two are both water sports, they have differences that make them distinct from each other. If you aren’t adept at spotting these, you won’t know which sport works best for you.

Don’t feel discouraged yet.

With this guide, you’ll learn about comparisons between wakeboarding vs water skiing. Read on and find out more:

Wakeboarding vs Water Skiing: The Differences

Both sports involve hydroplaning behind a board while holding a rope that tows you around. But the difference is that wakeboarding will use a large, snowboard-style board where you strap your feet using fixed bindings. In most cases, your feet will remain attached to the wakeboard in the event you fall.

Meanwhile, waterskiing uses a pair of skis unless you’re doing slalom water skiing. For the usual ski pair, attach each foot to a ski. As for the slalom counterpart, you attach your front foot to the ski while tucking your back foot into a strap behind.

If you use a wakeboard, your feet must be perpendicular to the board when ridden. It’s similar to how you would ride a skateboard or snowboard. As for twin water skis, your feet must face forward, parallel to each other like how you would when skiing in the snow.

This means that the differences between the two are similar to snowboarding and skiing. As for the gear, know that they’re more affordable than ever, now that the global water sports gear market size is at $43.2 billion. On average, wakeboards will cost anywhere between $200 and $500 while twin skis often cost $150 to $300.

Pull Speed and Water Conditions

When you wakeboard, your boat will pull you at much slower speeds compared to water skiing. Typically, the former’s speed range is around 19-22 mph while the latter’s is around 26-34 mph.

Water skiers do their best to put a lot of tension on the rope in turns to build up a water wall. In contrast, wakeboarders use lower speeds for cruising. They won’t pull as hard against the board since their primary focuses are jumps and tricks.

The pull speed and boat driver experience will have a significant impact on the difficulty of your wakeboarding or waterskiing session. Smooth, glassy water will make your session great, regardless of the water sport. But water skiing will benefit more from this condition since it’s easier for wakeboarders when the water is somewhat rough.

Learning Curve

When you compare the ease of learning between water skiing and wakeboarding, expect opinions to vary. It’s mostly because of the type of water ski and the board sports experience of the rider.

For most, learning how to wakeboard is a lot easier than skiing, especially slalom skis. The reason is that wakeboards have a larger contact area when cruising the water’s surface. Also, wakeboards with a deep water start give you more time to pop out of the water.

On the other side of the spectrum, some people find skiing easier because you need not go sideways after you get on top of the water. After all, after getting up on a wakeboard, you must rotate your hips sideways. Angling your body while the pulls you sideways might not feel natural to some people.

When you get up on two skis, you must deal with the wobbling skis. You’ll also deal with them moving away from each other. If you want your children to learn water sports, they’re likely to have it easier when using wakeboards.

Do you want high-quality board racks for your boat? If so, check out the link for great options.

Which Sport is Easier Behind a Boat?

Wakeboarding is easier on the body if you’re riding back and forth behind the boat the usual way. Even when you do wake jumps on a wakeboard, you’re unlikely to exert more effort than pulling a slalom from one side to another. This comparison will change depending on the skiing level.

If you run at nearly 35 mph and 15’ off in open water, you’re likely doing a strong workout. Expect some level of soreness the next day because of your significant pulls while turning. If you want to carve perfect turns on skis, you must have strong skills, and might be more difficult than normal wakeboarding.

But wakeboarding has its set of challenges as well. The harshness of a faceplant when you catch an edge on a wakeboard while doing a turn is one. It’s worse than falling to the side on slalom or getting a wedgie on twin skis.

Typically, you ride slower on a wakeboard. But when you catch an edge, you’ll trip forward and slap the water with such force that you’ll get headaches. Always remember that falling while on a wakeboard will hurt more compared to water skis, so always be vigilant and keep your edge up.

Which Sport is Harder on the Body?

Wakeboarding will exert less stress on your body because of the lower speed and bigger contact surface. This will result in a gentler pull on both your arms and shoulders. Also, most people find that the stance involved in wakeboarding is more natural, making it less stressful.

The trade-off is that wakeboarding will make your body work asymmetrically. It uses the same rotation in your hips and back because you’re riding in your natural stance. It matters not whether you prefer to put your left foot or right foot forward.

An effective way to avoid the strain is to learn how to ride a switch. You can do this by flipping your board at a 180-degree angle and swapping your rear and front foot.

Learn Water Sports Today!

These are some differences between wakeboarding vs water skiing. Use these to guide your decision and pick the right water sport for your tastes.

But why stop with these two activities? If you want to get the most out of your adventure, please read our other posts and learn more valuable skills.

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