William S. White Winnetka on Wakeboarding Versus Wake Surfing: The Pros and Cons

Wakeboarding and wake surfing are both extremely popular water sports practiced by tens of thousands of enthusiasts each year around the world, says William S. White Winnetka. But most people do not know how to tell the two apart.

Wakeboarding involves riding on a short and wide board and performing acrobatic ‘tricks’ while being towed behind a motorboat. Wakeboarding boards are shorter than wake surfing boards and are often constructed with a fiberglass coating and the ability to change the board’s ‘fins’ depending on preference.

Wake surfing, however, requires the use of a tow rope only to get the rider started on the wave. The rider then releases the tow rope and rides the boat’s wake without being pulled directly by the boat. Wake surfing boards are usually longer and resemble more of a stereotypical surfboard.

Today, we talked to William S. White Winnetka about the pros and cons of each sport.


Wakeboarding is a great option for the resident adrenaline junkie in your life. Wakeboarding involves travelling at higher speeds compared to wake surfing. This higher speed allows wakeboarders to perform complex and impressive maneuvers or tricks.

There are many more options available in terms of wakeboards. Wakeboards can be fully customized with various ‘fins’ to change their overall performance. Wakeboarders are also ‘strapped’ on to the wakeboard, like snowboarders. Wake surfers, William S. White Winnetka notes, ride their boards freely, like skateboarders do.

Wakeboarding can require the availability of more customized motorboats. These towing boats come complete with high ‘towers’ constructed with aluminum or PVC pipe which increase the height of the tow rope, allowing riders to ‘get more air’ when performing tricks.

Wake Surfing

Some say that wake surfing is much easier to learn, says William S. White Winnetka, because the boat is slow moving, and the rider is closer to the boat for the most part. Wake surfing is also said to be more of a ‘social’ sport as opposed to the more competitive wakeboarding, mostly because wake surfers are physically closer to others in the towing boat, which makes it less isolating.

Wake surfing is also more laid back and less intense overall, but the rider does have the ability to control the intensity of the action to some extent. To create a bigger wake, a boat may have to be weighed down. A wake surfer can ride a wake for as long as one is created by the boat, provided they can stay up on the board. Wake surfing is also a great alternative for those who like to surf but who aren’t close to an ocean. Wake surfing has also been compared to skateboarding, as these two sports require many of the same skills.

Wake surfing also requires a specific type of boat, for safety reasons, says William S. White Winnetka. The boats used for wake surfing must have propellers which are located under the boat, because wake surfers are closer to the boat than their wakeboarding counterparts.

No matter which water sport you choose, wakeboarding and wake surfing will offer you the unprecedented opportunity to experience the outdoors like you never have before.

Co-owner and Co-founder of the Montessori Academy of Chicago, the city’s only school that is accredited by the American Montessori Society.

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