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Water Sports

Make a splash

Who says water is just for swimming in? When the sun is out and the water's fine, it's time to grab your suit and enjoy some popular water sports! Motorized or self-propelled, on the water or under it, water sports are a great way to get some exercise while taking in the surf, sand and sun.


One of the oldest and most challenging water sports is surfing. Because it's just you and your surfboard out there, your board matters! Shorter boards (less than 7 feet long) turn more sharply, but larger boards are more graceful. The number of fins is important, too—they act as your steering wheel to enable turns or keep you surfing straight. Long boards have one fin, while modern short boards have two or three. Fins can either be permanently connected to the board or detachable, though detachable fins are becoming more popular.

Windsurfing also utilizes a surfboard, but with a large sail attached. You control your direction and speed by maneuvering the sail with your hands to catch the wind.

Motorized Water Sports

If working with Mother Nature isn't thrilling enough for you, put some motor power into your water sports! Water skiing—which traditionally uses two skis, one per foot, just like downhill snow skiing—is highly popular on lakes and rivers (where there are minimal waves). Skiers are pulled behind a speedboat and try to stay afloat while weaving in and out of the boat's wake. The more daring may perform tricks or be pulled over jump ramps, and more than one skier can be pulled at a time. There is also a form of water skiing called show skiing, in which groups of people perform routines to music, demonstrating tricks like building human pyramids on skis. Advanced skiers may use only one ski (which is called "slalom") or no skis at all (which is fittingly called "barefoot").

Water skiing requires three people: the boat driver, the skier and a "spotter" riding in the boat to alert the driver if the skier has fallen. But if you want some solo motorized fun, try a jet ski. Jet skis, or personal watercrafts, are like tiny speedboats and are enjoyed for their maneuverability. Go over waves, make sharp turns and even take off from jump ramps—just hold on, and remember to wear your life jacket! Many modern jet skis are large enough to carry one or more passengers, and most are even powerful enough to pull a water skier.