New technology has radically changed the world of sports. You’d have a hard time finding an activity today that hasn’t benefited from technological innovation in the past five or ten years. The field of watersports is one of the best examples of this shift.
On the surface, things like surfing and wakeboarding may not seem all that technologically advanced. Once you start looking into it, though, you’ll find that these sports today feature new technology everywhere. In some areas, gadgets have subtly refined the experience, and in others, they’ve created entirely new activities.
Here’s a closer look at how technology is transforming watersports.
New, Tech-Centric Watersports
New technologies have paved the way for brand-new sports, expanding the world of watersports. One of the most exciting examples is hydroflight sports, which use water to propel people into the air like a jetpack. You can now experience what it’s like to fly, and it wouldn’t be possible without new water propulsion technology.
In other areas, tech has reimagined old watersports. In 2016, drone company Freefly demonstrated the new sport of “dronesurfing,” where a surfer towed behind a drone, similar to kitesurfing. While this new, tech-centric version of the sport hasn’t quite caught on yet, it opens a world of possibilities.
As technologies like surfing drones and water jetpacks become more affordable, more people could get involved. These activities could then gain notoriety and legitimacy, with contests following soon after. It may not be long before you could be a professional dronesurfer.
Apps Improving the Experience
It’s hard to think of a gadget more revolutionary than a smartphone. While mobile apps aren’t necessarily new, their application to watersports is, and it’s pushing the field forward. You can now use your phone to check water conditions, finding the best spot, and staying safe.
Networks of sensors in the ocean provide more real-time data about the seas than ever before. While these may primarily be research tools, plenty of watersports apps now take advantage of them. You can check detailed information about waves, currents, and tides from your phone, helping you plan the best time and place to go surfing.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just launched a new model for predicting dangerous rip tides. With this information, surfers, swimmers, and other beachgoers can enjoy the water while avoiding these hazards.
You can’t talk about watersports without talking about boats, and these have seen remarkable technological advancement recently. Many boat advancements over the years have focused on making them faster, safer, or more affordable, and now, they’re making them better for sports. One of the key ways new tech is shaping boat-related watersports is through innovative engine designs.
You can get boat engines today designed specifically to create non-turbulent wakes ideal for water-skiing. Similarly, these specialized engines let you create larger wakes for wakeboarding jumps and tricks as you accelerate. Improvements like these give you more control over the experience, creating the exact kind of wake you need.
Some cutting-edge boat engine systems let you select automatic wake settings. You decide what kind of wake you want, and the system will adjust engine and rudder settings to create it.
Perhaps the most important way tech has transformed watersports is by making them safer. Any physical activity carries some risk, and the water adds hazards like the threat of drowning. New technologies help work around these dangers, keeping watersports enthusiasts safe.
Life jackets are the most crucial piece of water safety equipment, as 83% of people who’ve drowned in boating accidents weren’t wearing them. Novel materials and technologies have made them thinner and more attractive, convincing more people to wear them. Take, for example, the Wingman Life Jacket, the thinnest Coast Guard-approved flotation device on the market, which looks like an ordinary vest.
Many boats and jetskis now come with sensors that automatically kill engines if they sense someone’s fallen overboard. Bladeless propulsion systems let boats travel without the danger of cutting something or someone.
Getting Audiences Closer
New tech has also made things better for those who’d rather watch watersports than participate in them. In the past, getting close to the action was difficult given how sensitive electronics are to water and salt. Now, camera crews can get right next to the athletes they film and do so without disturbing or endangering them.
Small, waterproof drones let cameras get close to surfers and other water athletes without a cameraperson present. That way, audiences can get close to the action, but camera crews don’t get in the way of the athletes. These gadgets can prevent other dangers, too, as one stopped a potential shark attack in a surfing competition last year.
As waterproof sensor technology advances further, audiences at home will have access to even more information. Water temperatures, tide strength, and wind speeds could all appear on the screen, letting you know what conditions your favorite athletes face.
New Technology Is Making Waves
We’ve likely only scratched the surface of what technology can do for watersports. Recent technologies have already thoroughly disrupted watersports and even created some new ones. As new gadgets emerge, these activities will become more engaging, accessible, and safer.
The world of watersports is changing for the better, all thanks to new technology. Before long, it could look like an entirely different field.
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Last Updated on August 9, 2021.