Wakeboarding Background

Women’s wakeboarding made its debut at the 2019 Pan American Games. Men’s wakeboarding made its debut at the 2007 Pan American Games as part of the water ski program.

Wakeboarding has been one of the biggest sports-related phenomenons of the past two decades. Although it is easy to see why people are attracted to the spectacular moves of wakeboarding, it is not easy to identify the sport's birth. Perhaps the origins of wakeboarding will never be known, but surfers deserve most of the credit because the beginnings of the new sport most likely began when surfers started being towed with a ski rope behind a boat.

A San Diego, California, surfer named Tony Finn began the wakeboard revolution in 1985 when he developed the Skurfer — a cross between a water ski and a surfboard. Finn diligently promoted his Skurfer, and was quite successful in raising people's level of awareness to the new sport. However, it took the design skills of Herb O'Brien to truly send the sport off into new heights. O'Brien, a leading water ski manufacturer, took an interest in advancing the sport in the late 1980s. Before long he changed the wakeboard industry by introducing the first compression-molded neutral-buoyancy wakeboard, the Hyperlite. This innovation led to a massive growth of the wakeboarding marketplace that continues to this day. The Hyperlite's natural buoyancy allowed easy deepwater starts, which in turn made wakeboarding accessible to virtually everyone.