As with waterskiing, the rider is towed behind either a boat or a cable setup, but typically at slower speeds (18 – 24mph).
The rider wears a single board with stationary non-release bindings for each foot, standing sideways as with a snowboard or skateboard. The boards, which can float, are typically 130 – 147cm long and up to 45cm wide and convex (tips 15 – 25cm).
The rope is mounted about 2 metres above the water line and the boat is weighted and trimmed, with strategically placed large water ballast tanks in order to give a larger wake. The wake is used as kickers or ramps would be in other board sports. Steering the board using a combination of body direction and cutting the edges into the water, the rider cuts rapidly in toward the wake, using it to launch themselves into the air.
As with many freestyle sports such as snowboarding and surfing, there is almost an entire language of terms to describe various tricks. The sport is growing enormously in popularity, with many participants finding it relatively straightforward to learn, whilst offering a massive opportunity for self-expression.
A more advanced variation is wakeskating, which has extremely close ties to street skateboarding. This consists of a similar shaped board with no bindings. The rider stands on the board either barefoot or wearing a pair of trainers and performs tricks that would typically be performed on a skateboard.