Wake boarding and water skiing are entirely two different sports although there appears to be some similarity between the two.
The most obvious difference between the two sports is in the nature of the ride itself. Water skiing is a relatively straightforward sport while wake boarding is a derivative of several different games. The principle of water skiing is based on being towed around by a speed boat. Wake boarding also includes being towed around by a speed boat but it includes features also common to surfing, snow boarding and skate boarding.
Water skiing traditionally is just a ride behind a speed boat. This is pursued for the simple pleasure of skiing over waters. A water skier prefers smooth sailing over the waters. Wakeboarding is an offshoot of surfing which means that the wake boarders prefer larger waves to ride on.
The different nature of the two sports is reflected in the individual sports gear as well. Water skiers ride the waters on water skis whereas the wakeboarding sport makes use of specially designed boards complete with foot straps and fins to help maintain the balance of the wake boarder. Wake boarders make use of a single board at a time whereas the number of skis used by a water skier will depend on the type of skiing being done.
The boats used to pull these sports riders are also of different makes. While the water skier may use any simple motor boat for skiing, the wakeboard boat is specially designed to create extra high waves as the thrill of wakeboarding (as in surfing) is to ride these waves without loosing one’s balance. The difference in wake boarding boats is in the structure designed to increase weight at the rear which aids in creating larger wakes behind the speeding boat. One common principle adopted to ensure extra weight at the stern is to place engines at the rear. As the height of the waves is directly proportional to the weight of the stern, the engine is placed backwards at the rear for added weight. Newer technologies like aftermarket ballast and lead are further used by manufacturers for creating larger wakes.
Ropes – a key equipment used for these rides also have contrary features. Ropes used for wake boarding should not be of an elastic nature as this will tend to tip the balance of the wake boarder whereas stretchable ropes are needed in water skiing as the stretch factor helps in maneuvering curves behind a speeding boat.