Waveski Surfing is a dynamic sport combining the paddle power of a sit on and strap in kayak with the manoeuvrability and performance of a surfboard. A Waveski resembles a larger surf-board, with a seat, fins, foot straps, and seat belt, enabling the rider to 'eskimo roll' if overturned. The waveski rider or waveski surfer then uses a double ended paddle for motion while seated on the waveski. The origins are obscure, but wave skis have been around for over forty years. Danny Broadhurst, a Long Island, New York, surfer created some early wave skis in the 1970s, although these were heavy, bulky and not particularly manoeuvrable. The sport experienced its major growth in the 80`s with manufactures like Macski being a dominant force in the market exporting worldwide to countries like Australia, USA and Europe. Original boards had wooden frames covered in glass fibre then became foam injected and soon custom hand made boards were being shaped and glassed out of Polystyrene foam and epoxy resins. Nowadays boards are shaped in precision CNC machines and weigh around 6 kg when completed.
Many of the manoeuvres wave skiers have been performing since the 80`s are only now becoming main stream moves in surfing, where they were mocked in days gone by surfers, manoeuvers such as aerials, flip aerials and various other radical moves one can do on a wave. The sport is experiencing a resurgence in countries like Brazil and France tying in with the river and sea kayak sports and holding joint competitions as they share a common functionality. More junior riders and sponsors are needed to see larger coverage of this fantastic sport.
Competitions are run similar to stand up surfing and are judged on the performance of the rider on the waves within a 20min heat. High performance skis weigh about 6 to 8 kg and are custom made, using epoxy resin and EPS foam, which makes the waveski light & strong. The sport provides fun and exercise for beginners through to advanced riders.
There are several kinds of wave skis, including the shorter and "fatter" Australian style ski, used for high performance "slash and burn" surfing, and American style wave skis perhaps epitomized by Steve Boehne's Infinity Surfshop skis. There are also skegless skis for performing tricks, and even tandem skis. The "Jbay" wave ski shape has become the predominant shape of a ski nowadays with riders positioned further back on the ski for better manoeuvrability.
A waveski is not to be confused with a surf ski. Waveskis are designed for surfing ocean waves and surf skis are designed for racing in open water, as seen in Magnum P.I., the Tom Selleck TV series.
United States Waveski Surfing Association: USWaveski.com
Website for the Reunion island: Waveski-reunion.com