It’s strange. Ask many a salty surfer in the lineup with a healthy head of gray hair their thoughts on the popularity of surfing these days, and you’ll be met with a scoff. Maybe a, “Too many people in the water, if you ask me.” Pose the same question to an industry exec and you’ll get a long diatribe about the industry’s anemic growth in recent years.
Surfing derivatives, on the other hand, are fucking booming. Stand-up paddling continues to grow in popularity not just in coastal cities, but across America’s lakes and rivers. And wakesurfing, if reports are to be believed, might be saving the boating industry.
Here’s a brief snippet from a 2016 article in Boating Industry magazine:
“If any one element has clearly benefitted the tow boat segment, it is the continued growth in the popularity of wakesurfing. It’s an activity that appeals to boaters of all ages – aging boomers appreciate it being far lower impact than wakeboarding, while millennials enjoy being closer to the boat and being able to still talk with friends and family aboard the boat when they’re out back in the wake. The proximity is even more important in our social media-driven world, where being close enough for good cell phone photos counts more than anyone will admit.”
That last bit is especially frightening.
It’s no secret that over the last few years boat companies have been snatching up professional surfers as ambassadors including Bethany Hamilton, Josh Kerr (who both ride for Tigé), and now Kelia Moniz for MasterCraft.
The fact that wakesurfing can be done virtually anywhere with placid water that allows motorized boats is certainly another reason the sport’s absolutely blown up. That, and it offers the promise of an endless wave if you don’t pass out from breathing in exhaust fumes first. Or run out of gas.