As a relatively new sport, born in the 80s, wakeboarding is a fast-growing watersport globally, and popular in the United States. Helping the sport to grow in numbers and popularity are the numerous wakeboarding competitions around the world. At these events, the best of the best showcase their skills on the water.
Wakeboarding competitions provide wakeboarders a platform to showcase their skills and compete for titles, rankings, and the prestige of being crowned World Wakeboarding Champion. The biggest wakeboarding competitions include the Wakeboard World Cup and WWA Wakeboard World Championships.
In this article, we discuss the numerous wakeboarding competitions, see how they work, who has won them consistently, and everything else related to wakeboarding. The best thing about wakeboarding competitions is that amateurs and professionals can compete in them, allowing them to test themselves against similarly skilled competitors.
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What Are the Biggest Wakeboarding Competitions in the World?
Wakeboarding competitions are well-supported events by athletes and fans alike and are the platform wakeboarders use to showcase their unique talents. Here are a few of the biggest wakeboarding competitions in the world.
The Wakeboard World Cup
The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) is acknowledged as the World Governing Body for Towed Water Sports and the host of the Wakeboard World Cup.
Only the best or highest-ranked IWWF watersports athletes in the world get to participate, and the winners receive cash prizes according to their performance on the day. Four disciplines feature in the World Cup:
With regards to wakeboarding, contestants are either pulled by boat or cable. The country that hosts the World Cup can choose one or two of the disciplines listed above to give their riders an advantage.
The schedule for a regular IWWF Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup looks something like this:
- DAY 1: Orientation – Media – Practice
- DAY 2: Qualification Round – Fringe Activities
- DAY 3: Semi-Finals – Fringe Activities – Finals – Award Ceremonies
WWA Wakeboard World Championships
The World Wake Association (WWA) is a wakeboarding organization and governing body formed by riders for the sport of wakeboarding. The WWA is at the forefront regarding the hosting and sanctioning of wakeboarding events that meet the competitive standards and rules associated with the sport.
Formed in 1989, the WWA provides the sport with amateur and professional wakeboarding events, programs, and membership levels to promote the sport and to let it grow freely with the help of various organizers. According to the WWA website, 27 affiliate countries form part of the association.
The WWA operates and owns the following wakeboarding competitions:
- WWA Wakeboard World Series
- WWA Wake Park World Series
- WWA Wakeboard National Championships
- WWA Wake Park National Championships
- WWA Wakeboard World Championships
- WWA Wake Park World Championships
- WWA Wake Park Triple Crown
- WWA Pro Card
- WWA Rider Experience
WWA Wakeboard World Series
The WWA Wakeboard World Series is an elite series in which pro wakeboarders compete against each other throughout the year. An overall winner is crowned after the last event in the series.
Here’s the 2023 WWA Wakeboard World Series events calendar:
|WWA Wakeboard World Series Event||WWA Wakeboard World Series Event 2023 Date|
|Nautique Moomba Masters Invitational
Location – Yarra River, Melbourne, Australia
|• March 9-13|
|LCQ WWA Rideline App (virtual event)||• April|
|63rd Nautique Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament
Location – Gallaway Gardens, Pine Mountains, Georgia
|• May 26-28|
|Nautique WWA Wakeboard National Championships
Location – Gallaway Gardens, Pine Mountains, Georgia
|• July 27-30|
|Nautique WWA Wakeboard World Championships
Location – Ferreira do Zezere, Portugal
|• August 30-September 3|
The World Games
The International World Games Association (IWGA) is a non-profit international organization that comprises 39 International Sports Federations. Every four years, the IGWA administrates The World Games, which spans 11 days to celebrate sports on a global level.
Wakeboarding has been a discipline since gaining acceptance in 2001. The 2022 World Games held in Birmingham in the United States delivered the following gold medals in the wakeboard freestyle category:
- Men’s Gold: Nick Rapa from Australia
- Women’s Gold: Hinata Yoshihara from Japan
X Games Wakeboarding
The history of X Games is one of constant innovation regarding the innovative sporting codes included in the now massively popular extreme sports series. X Games launched its first competition in 1995 in Rhode Island under the original Extreme Games moniker.
Wakeboarders could immediately get the chance to compete in what would turn into one of the world’s most watched and highly regarded extreme sports competitions. Wakeboarding made its X Games debut in 1996 when it replaced windsurfing and mountain biking.
Wakeboarding is a popular sport and is often included in X Games. The honor of being crowned the X Games Wakeboarding champion is chased by elite wakeboarders across the globe whenever X Games includes the popular sport in its roster.
How Do Wakeboarding Competitions Work?
Wakeboarding competitions are all about performance. At a sanctioned wakeboarding event, you will find judges who score the wakeboarders according to how well they execute complicated tricks and maneuvers.
Points are scored for style and overall impression. Competitions are typically divided into heats or rounds (typically two rounds each), where the wakeboarders with the most accumulated points advance to the championship rounds. The wakeboarder with the most points in the final round is declared the winner.
During a wakeboarding competition, each wakeboarder performs their routine in an allotted timeframe trying to complete as many tricks as possible. An emphasis is placed on executing the most difficult maneuvers with the most air with a certain panache.
Falling more than once ends the run.
Different Types of Wakeboarding Competitions
Primarily you get two types of wakeboarding competitions: cable park and boat competitions. A cable park competition occurs in a lake with a cable system that pulls the wakeboarder around the course.
A cable park is often constructed explicitly for the sole purpose of hosting a watersport event. Riders are provided with obstacles, including rails, sliders, and kickers, to perform their bag of tricks on.
Boat competitions occur in natural bodies of water, and riders perform tricks using the wake created by the powerboat pulling them. Distance, height, and the difficulty of the tricks determine the points scored. Boat competitions can be split into Traditional Boat and Big Air competitions:
- Traditional Boat Competitions: Consists of a series of passes where the rider gets to perform a set of tricks on each pass.
- Big Air Competitions: Consists of riders using massive wakes to launch high in the air while performing all sorts of tricks consisting of grabs, spins (180, 360, 540, 720), and flips. The gnarliest trick usually wins the day.
Who Are the Top Wakeboarding Champions?
Wakeboarders are a special breed of human being. The sport has delivered many impressive individuals capable of doing things on a wakeboard that only a few can, winning many competitions
The next time you find yourself in discussion regarding top wakeboarding champions, cooly refer to the following innovative wakeboarding stars:
The Aussie is a legend in the sport of wakeboarding. He is an 8-time World Wakeboarding Champion, all before age 30. Harley started wakeboarding at a young age, and his talent and total dedication to the sport have resulted in a gold at the World of X Games MasterCraft Throwdown.
Clifford is a family man who lives on the beautiful Gold Coast of Australia with his wife and daughter. Harley’s favorite trick is called a tail grab KGB.
Sanne started wakeboarding at ten years of age in her native Holland and has competed in two recent editions of The World Games. Apart from being a former Wakeboarding World Champion, Sanne has won many gold medals in European competitions.
Although injuries of late have plagued the wakeboarding star, her love for the water has not diminished, and she keeps in shape by doing Crossfit, regularly hitting the gym, and training variations, including physical therapy and stretching.
Meijer reckons that her most challenging trick to date is the skeezer or the s-bend, and she does most of her wakeboard training on a cable. Here’s a video of Meijer doing her thing in Thai Wake Park during a semi-final.
The Derome family consists of watersport fanatics. He is a father who loves waterskiing and his two talented wakeboarding sons, Raph, and Oliver Derome.
Through years of sibling rivalry, both brothers reached wakeboarding heights in their respective careers, each one carving out a different path, with Raph being the one that transformed the sport entirely.
Raph’s 15-year career has pushed the limits of what is possible on a wakeboard. He won numerous awards, including a hat-trick at the inaugural Red Bull Wake Open, the Big Air and Park awards, and being crowned overall champion.
The story of Raph and his boundary-pushing wakeboarding career is beautifully captured in the 2022 documentary Au Revoir.
Watersport runs deep in the Teunissen family, with Cory’s father a former barefoot champion. Cory has been a consistent competitor for the last ten years and continues the family tradition of producing champions on the water.
Ranked number #1 wakeboarder in the world in 2019, Cory was also the youngest ever to land the impressive wake-to-wake 1080. The double-world champion trains obsessively and won the Pro Wake Board Tour last year.
Check out the following interview by Wake Channel to gain some insight about one of the most gifted wakeboarders on earth.
Bec Gange loves wakeboarding. Her love for wakeboarding started in her teens while boarding behind her family boat called “Redback,”; and her passion has led to numerous world titles and World Cup victories.
Bec often wins Female Trick of the Year awards as she doesn’t hold back on the water. Unfortunately, her aggressive style has resulted in several knee surgeries over the years. But nothing comes between Bec and her beloved wakeboard and their love for the water.
Gange is an 8-time Aussie Wakeboard Champion and the first woman to land the Whirlybird 540. Check out the following video and see Bec’s advice when trying to land a Heelside Backside Tail 180.
Meagan’s first introduction to wakeboarding happened at age 8, intensified at age 12, and blossomed when she won Rookie-of-the-Year in 2012. Winner of the Wake Games and a victory at the prestigious Queen of the Wake put Meagan on the wakeboarding map.
Meagan dominated the top of the wakeboarding standings in 2014 and 2015 before an ACL injury wrecked her 2016 season. Meagan, being Meagan, destroyed the competition to win the World Championships and Nautique WWA Wakeboard Nationals in 2018.
The 2019 season was much of the same. Check out Meagan’s winning run at the Nautique WWA Wakeboard World Championships 2020 to see poetry in motion. Meagan is also the driving force behind the Moxie Pro, a women’s only wakeboarding contest.
How Do Wakeboarders Get Ranked?
Wakeboarding is a super competitive sport at both amateur and professional levels. Ranking at the amateur level is based solely on how a rider performs in local, national, and international wakeboarding competitions.
At any legit wakeboarding competition, you will find judges, or a panel of experts, who will critique and score each individual’s performance regarding tricks, riding style, and overall performance on the water.
Professional wakeboarders get ranked by competition performance and overall influence in the sport, such as promotion through social media, but mostly on how they perform on the water over various events.
Points are awarded for every competition performance. High-level competitions award more points than amateur competitions. Consistently nailing complicated tricks will result in a high point tally and higher ranking than a wakeboarder who struggles to land the gnarliest tricks without fail.
Consistency across various wakeboarding competitions is vital when it comes to wakeboard rankings.
Is Wakeboarding an Extreme Sport?
Wakeboarding involves being strapped to a board, pulled by a powerboat, hanging on for dear life on a pull rope, and surfing the wake of the boat while aiming to perform gravity-resistant jumps and seemingly impossible maneuvers.
Wakeboarding features fast speeds and high flips, and the risk of injury is a reality every time you go out onto the water. Mix skateboarding, waterskiing, and snowboarding together, and you get wakeboarding.
Wakeboarding is an extreme sport and extremely popular, as the sport is the fastest-growing watersport in the USA, with over 4 million people enjoying the activity.
What Are the Physical Demands of Wakeboarding Competitions?
Wakeboarding is a physically demanding sport, often taking place in challenging conditions. A wakeboarder needs a high fitness level, strength, and skill to succeed in wakeboarding competitions.
The physical demands of wakeboarding competitions are a mixture of the following:
- Strength – To successfully compete in a wakeboarding competition, you will require lots of upper body strength, a strong core, and highly developed arm, back, and shoulder muscles paired with muscular thighs and calves as you fly behind a boat holding onto a rope.
- Balance and flexibility – Wakeboarders must twist and bend their bodies when performing tricks and need excellent balance to land them and stay on the board without diving. Without the required flexibility and balance, you won’t be able to land the tricks that win competitions.
- Fast reflexes – Wakeboarders need quick reflexes to adapt to changing water conditions and to land correctly after performing depth-defying moves.
- Mental strength – As important as physical strength, mental strength wins your competition. The ability to stay focused when things don’t go according to plan is priceless in wakeboarding. Being able to remain completely calm under pressure and the art of visualizing the run before executing it without fear is a skill set used by the best athletes.
Preparing for a wakeboarding competition takes dedication and hard work. Wakeboarders employ a wide range of training techniques to prepare them physically and mentally, incorporating strength, balance, flexibility, and mental training into their exercise regimes.
Wakeboarding is an extreme sport, and many riders test themselves in wakeboarding competitions worldwide. The most prominent competitors are the Wakeboard World Cup, the WWA Wakeboard Championships, the WWA Wakeboard World Series, X Games, The World Games, and any competition hosted by Red Bull.
Judges score riders on the difficulty of the tricks they perform, consistency across various competitions, and the rider’s style and overall impression. Ranking points gained in numerous events add up, and eventually, an overall winner will be crowned the World Wakeboarding Champion.
Torsten Bird is a talented and adventurous waterman from Western Australia, passionate about surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, hydrofoiling, skimboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding. Torsten has spent countless hours mastering his skills and his dream is to one day represent Australia as an Olympic athlete. Follow Torsten’s adventures on Instagram.