Humanity has always had a close relationship with water, even though human beings aren’t naturally an aquatic species. We have always used water for fishing, trading, exploring, and even war, but today, boats can often be used for recreation, too. Many Americans today own fishing boats, pontoon boats, and wakeboard boats or speedboats, and other American may visit a lake and rent a boat like that for some water sports. Many water sports today are practiced all over the United States, and these include wakeboarding, wakesurfing, fishing, and racing, among others. Boat ownership in the United States is higher than ever, and these personal craft are often used for water sports. Jet ski rental is another fun way to get out and about on the water. What is there to know about water sports and boats today?
Americans and Water Sports
Many statistics are kept today to track not only how Americans work, but also how they spend their time and money on fun. One sector of this entertainment is water sports, and the numbers show that over 87 million Americans aged 18 and over take part in recreational boating every year, and some 19.6% of Millennials (born 1982 to 1995) are enjoying these water sports. In 2017, for a recent example, around 13.4% of the entire American population took part in these water sports, and that includes wakesurfing and wakeboarding. Just what are these water sports? First devised in the late 1980s, these sports rapidly gained popularity and became major sports, and are often competitive.
Wakeboarding is the easier of these two sports to try, and it involves the wakeboarding boat, a long rope with handles, and the rider, who hangs onto those handles while riding on a long board. To begin with, the boat will accelerate and reach top speed, and the wakeboarder will hold on tight to that rope’s handles while being trailed along. That rope may be as long as 52 to 78 feet or so, plenty of distance from the boat. Once top speed is reached, the wakeboarder can enjoy the rough wake that the boat kicks up, though they shouldn’t let go of the rope and its handles. In 2016, some 2.91 million Americans took part in this water sport.
Wakesurfing is a fairly similar idea, since it also involves a boat that gets up to top speed and churns the water behind it to create a useful wake for the surfer. In this case, the wakesurfer is on board a smaller board than a wakeboarder, and their rope is much shorter. The wakeboarder will hang onto that rope and its handles until the boat reaches top speed, then let go and surf in a more conventional style. This is pretty convenient for surfers who are far away from larger coasts in Florida or California that allow for traditional surfing on waves.
Racing is another option for water sports, and every year, many Americans get on board their narrow and powerful speed boats and race on open lakes. What is more, many of these races are in fact charity races, which may draw quite a crowd. Variations include poker run games, when the racers stop at waypoints to pick up playing cards to make a poker hand. At the race’s end, the racer with the strongest hand is the winner.
Relax on the Water
Water sports are thrilling, but not everyone is in the mood to go at super speed. For someone who wants a more relaxing time on the lake, they may rent a pontoon boat (if they don’t own one) and take a boat onto the lake for leisurely cruising and sight seeing. These boats are wider than speedboats and have the deck space and seating for several people at once. This makes pontoon boats a fine choice for leisurely activities such as fishing, and there will be enough room for a tackle box and live capture bucket (and a guard rail, too). Other pontoon boat riders may have a picnic or small party on board, and the ample seating and some small tables (and the awning) make for a comfortable party, right there in the middle of the lake.