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Wakesurfing vs Wakeboarding

Discover the most suitable boat for wakeboarding behind

While both wakesurfing and wakeboarding involve riding a board behind a boat, they’re actually two different sports. It can be easy to confuse them, but while there are several similarities, there are also several differences that are important to know.


If you’re trying to decide between wakesurfing vs wakeboarding, but can’t figure out which one you want to try, we’ve outlined the differences between wakeboarding and wakesurfing, as well as their similarities. Read on for more information about wakesurfing vs wakeboarding.

Wakesurfing vs wakeboarding - the similarities

There are three aspects that are similar between wakesurfing and wakeboarding: the requirements, the stance on the board, and physical ability. Both sports require a large body of water with plenty of space where the boat can maneuver easily to create wakes. Both require a boat that can create wakes behind it, with a tower to which a rope can be attached. Other requirements are the right attire (a bathing suit or a wetsuit) and a life jacket.


The rider’s stance on the board is similar in both sports. In both wakesurfing and wakeboarding the rider stands perpendicular on the board with one foot in front, one foot in back. The dominant foot goes to the back of the board to help with balance.


Finally, physical ability requirements are similar in both sports. Standing on the board requires good core, leg, and back strength, as well as good balance. Some upper body strength is good as well, since you’ll be holding onto the tow rope, though it is more necessary in wakeboarding where you are holding the rope the whole time.

difference between wakeboarding and wakesurfing

Difference between wakeboarding and wakesurfing

Despite their similarities, wakesurfing and wakeboarding have significant differences that are important to note if you’re trying to decide between the two. These include the board size and design, how you get up and ride on the board, and wakeboard vs wakesurf boat.


The board sizes in wakesurfing vs wakeboarding are significantly different. Wakeboarding boards come in a vast variety of sizes, and which board you get depends on your weight.  When choosing a wakeboard you should look carefully at sizing charts to determine which one is right for you. Wakesurfing boards, on the other hand, don’t have such specific guidelines for length. Generally they are around 4-5 feet long.


Wakesurfing boards and wakeboards both have rockers, but wakesurfing boards are simpler. With wakeboards you’ll have to choose between continuous, 3-stage, or hybrid, while wakesurfing boards all have a similar rocker.

Wakeboards have bindings and boots to which the rider attaches their feet, keeping them on the board. Wakesurfing boards don’t have any bindings, and the rider just stands on the board in bare feet, like with regular surfing.


A big difference between wakesurfing and wakeboarding is how you get up and ride. Wakeboarders start by lying in the water and holding onto the tow rope. The boat then pulls you up into a standing position, and you hold onto the rope the whole time. Wakesurfers, on the other hand, start standing in the water, and once the boat is moving they let go of the tow rope.

The boats used in wakesurfing vs wakeboarding are different as well. Wakeboarding boats have an inboard motor with a wake tower, while wakesurfers often use ski or jet boats.

wakesurfing vs wakeboarding difficulty

Wakeboarding boats are generally faster, averaging 18-23 miles per hour. How fast the boat goes will depend on the skill level of the rider; beginners should go slower, while more advanced riders can go faster. A wakesurfing boat will go slower than a wakeboarding boat, about 10-12 miles per hour.


As far as the tow ropes go, wakesurfing ropes are thick and short, often with knots along them to allow the rider to choose how much length they want to use. Wakeboarding ropes are longer and thinner and don’t have any stretch.

Wakesurfing vs wakeboarding difficulty

Is wakesurfing easier than wakeboarding? Generally, wakesurfing is the easier sport, and has less of a learning curve, which makes it great for beginners. We’ll look at a few of the difficulty points for each sport.


Since wakesurfers’ feet aren’t attached to the board like in wakeboarding, it’s easier to keep your balance. You can easily adjust your stance and place your feet where you want to keep your balance. Some people argue that wakeboarding gives you better balance since you don’t have to constantly adjust your feet, and you’re holding on to the rope the whole time.

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Getting up

It can be challenging to get up on either board, but most beginners in wakesurfing are able to get the hang of it within a few tries since you start in a more upright position. Wakeboard riders start by lying down in the water, and there are some pitfalls to getting up like standing up too early or too much pull on your arms.


Generally, wakesurfing involves less chance of injury than wakeboarding due to the fact that the rider isn’t strapped to the board, the speeds are slower, and they release the rope after starting. Wakeboarding causes more strain on your arms, so it’s easier to go longer with wakesurfing. Many wakeboarders have sore arms and legs for days after a 30-minute ride, while wakesurfers generally only have soreness in their legs after several hours of riding. Wakeboarders do more intense tricks that have higher-impact landings because their feet are strapped to the board. Wakesurfing tricks are more forgiving.

Wakesurfing vs wakeboarding - which is more fun?

Both wakesurfing and wakeboarding are fun in their own ways, so it’s hard to say which is more fun. It depends more on your style and what you want out of your ride. Wakeboarding gives you the opportunity to perform some really cool tricks with higher jumps and more air time. If you want a faster ride, wakeboarding is the way to go.

Wakesurfing speeds, on the other hand, are lower so you have a more chill ride. You also have more freedom to move around which takes some of the stress away. While wakesurfing tricks aren’t as spectacular as wakeboarding tricks, you can still do some pretty cool stuff.


No matter which sport you choose, wakesurfing and wakeboarding are both fun and rewarding sports. Just remember to take the necessary safety precautions and you’ll have a safe, fun time!

is wake surfing easier than wakeboarding

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