In the past few years, thanks to the recent increase in the number of cable wake parks, wakeboarding has become he new emerging boardsport. At the crossroad between surfing and kite-surfing, wakeboard is a suburban boardsport that you can do whenever you want, in almost any kind weather, which is undeniably an advantage for riders who are short in time. While it used to be open almost exclusively to boat owners, the sport is now accessible to the general public, which is why we sat down for a chat with Philippe Sirech , founder of Unleashed Wakeboard Magazine, wakeboard events and wakepark designer. In his interview, he comes back on how the sport, its environment and riders have evolved with time.


What federation is wakeboard part of ? 

Wakeboard become part of the French waterskiing federation in 1996, which was accordingly renamed French Federation for Waterskiing and Wakeboarding (FFSNW). This federation has national delegation for wakeboard and wakeskate.

How many wakeboarders are there ? 

The most recent survey (2013) mention over 30 millions wakeboarders and water-skiers in the World, 1/3 of which are in Europe.

What countries are the most developed in terms of practicing the sport ? 

There are two ways of practicing the sport : boating wakeboard s strong in the USA with many elite athletes, whereas (cable) park wakeboarding was first developed in Europe (first in Germany and then in France) and then in Asia. The Americans have developed and supported this type of practice only in the past 3 years, but since 2016 we’ve seen significant growth.

What types of profiles do wakeboard ? 

The sport is predominantly male but there is strong interest and development rising from women. Professional female riders with incredible levels have come on the scene in the past 3 years. There are more and more crossover riders, especially in the younger generation : they snowboard in the winter and wakeboard in the summer.

What are the main riding trends ? 

Park wakeboard is without a doubt he trend experiencing the biggest growth, which is linked to the increasing number of cable parks available with beginner friendly options. Wakesurfing is also growing but not at the same speed. It’s easier and fun to ride behind a boat. Wake foil s very recent. It requires a high level and technique so it isn’t something anyone can just pick up.

How many wakeparks are there in France, in Europe and throughout the World ? 

This year, we’ve passed the 1000 mark for wake parks open Worldwide. We have not quite reachcd the stagnation phase due to the significant growth that is still present in Europe (eastern European countries) and in South America. In Europe, there are over 500, and nearly 100 in France.

How many economic players are there in its industry ? 

There are many if you consider each spot as a player. Spots aside though, there are thirty or so main brands that contribute to developing the sport (manufacturers of boats, bindings, wetsuit, helmets, life jackets … ), some national (FFSNW, WWA­France, AFW … ) and inter­national associations (WSIA, WWA, IWWF…), some specialised media, non core brands in the technology sector (sensors like WOO wake, drones like Airdog, cameras like GoPro and others…).

What are the different competition circuits ? 

Competitions labeled as official are organized by federations or the WWA (World Wake Asso­ciation). In addition, there are other local, national or Euro­pean events such as the WOO Battle in France/Belgium, the Bomber Eyewear Europe, or the Plastic Playground.

Is wakeboard aiming to become an Olympic sport ? 

Getting Olympie status would be a significant opportunity to develop the sport. The objec­tive at the moment would be to present wakeboard as a demons­tration at the 2024 Paris Cames given that France has the most cable parks in the world at the moment. To do so however, we need for all the players in our industry to mobilise as well as support from the main associa­tions that manage the professional and amateur sides of the sport.

How do you see the sport evolving in the future ? 

The whole “fun” and leisure aspect keeps on growing in the sport, namely thanks to water sports complexes that include cable parks and which are gra­dually becoming aquatic equi­valents to mini ski resorts right outside the major cities.


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