Are you into watersports like skiing and wakeboarding? The thrill of carving long lines and ramping off wakes appeals to thousands of enthusiasts. You need a dedicated vehicle for the best watersports experience possible, which means the ski or wake boat is your best option for a powerful, high-performance vessel.
The ski and wake boat designs have slight differences, but they both offer you excellent utility out on the water. These boats come with bow and aft seating, various driver configurations, and all the accessories you need to enjoy a day of watersports action.
This post unpacks everything you need to make the right choice of boat to match your watersports activity.
What are Ski Boats and Wake Boats?
The ski and wake boat both have similar features. The deck setup is usually the same, and they have a similar design and shape to each other. However, the key difference between the two is the formation of the wake left by the motors.
The engine setup on the wake model has a design to produce a large wake ideal for ramps and airs that are common in wakeboarding. The ski model’s motor config provides a flatter wake, reducing the turbulence underfoot as the skier moves from one side of the boat to the other.
The ski boat has a design to accommodate three different events in waterskiing; the trick, jump, and slalom. The engine in dedicated ski boat models features a center configuration for the motor, coupled with direct-drive transmissions.
This setup allows for plenty of power and acceleration from the boat while dispersing the wake to keep the water flat behind the boat. Modern ski boats also feature V-drive transmissions, giving you the flattest wake out of any motor design and set up.
The wake boat has a motor configuration to produce the biggest wakes possible. It allows for massive ramps that let wakeboarders hit airs and tricks with ease. Before the design of the dedicated wake boat, people would weigh the rear of the boat, dipping the motors deeper into the water to increase the size of the wake produced by the vessel in motion.
With the development of the V-drive transmission, the boat got the large wake required to add more height and length to the wake produced by the engines. Most wake boats feature built-in ballast systems allowing you to increase the weight to the rear of the boat at the flip of a switch.
Benefits of Ski Boats and Wake Boats
Both wake and ski boats have similar design features once we get past the motor design and configuration. Here are the top benefits of ski and wake boats for watersports activities.
Speed and Handling
Both boats come with exceptional performance and handling. These models produce the tightest turning circle and handling that’s similar to bowrider models. Most boats feature a stern or port driver configuration, with the driver position more to the rear of the boat and the engine positioned in front of the console.
The central positioning of the engine gives the boat excellent balance and turning capability, and the powerful motors let you reach high speeds suitable for wakeboarding and skiing. Most models have V-shaped hulls allowing for stability of the boat at high speeds and easy cutting through calm waters.
Custom Setups for Watersports
These models come with wakeboarding towers or high tow points from Bimini frames. They also have storage for your wakeboarding or skiing gear. You also get a built-in cooler under the seats for your drinks and snacks.
The ski and wake boat also features two points on either side of the vessel’s aft and options for removable or fixing T-towers for your tow rope.
Plenty of Seating
These models typically come with driver positions in the rear of the boat and seating lounges in the bow. You can usually get anywhere for six to nine passengers into these watercraft, depending on the size of the boat. Some models may also offer a bench seat in the aft of the boat behind the driver.
Most models come with under-seat storage facilities, including coolers and space for your skis and wakeboards. You won’t be able to pack this boat to the rafters, but you’ll have enough room for everything you need.
The wake and ski boats come in lengths ranging from 16 to 24-feet in size, allowing for a maneuverable craft that turns on a dime. The shorter length means they are trailerable, allowing easy launching and removal from the water and transportation between lakes and rivers inland.
Some models might be wider than 10-feet, requiring you to apply for a license to tow the boat. Speak to your dealer about regulations in your state concerning towing your boat.
The ski and wake boat has crossover capabilities for skiing and wakeboarding, with the ballast models being suitable for either sport. While they aren’t the best choice for fishing, they offer you fishing capability, with the rear sun pad in the aft of the boat providing a casting deck.
Built with Entertainment in Mind
The ski and wake boat is the ideal choice for a fun day out on the water. Most models will include an mp3 Bluetooth music player with a four or six-speaker system for playing your favorite music out on the water. Thanks to the limited deck space, they aren’t the best choice for a party boat, but they offer you fun and comfort out on the water.
Outboard, Stern-drive, or Inboard Motors
Most of the more affordable models come with high-power outboard motors for exceptional performance. You get engine capacities and outputs ranging from 150-HP to 350-HP for most models. The more expensive versions come with inboard or stern-drive motors, allowing for easy movement of the tow rope without snagging the engine.
Most motors come with a gas-powered operation rather than the diesel motors you find on large cruisers. The gas motor offers you better performance, and you’ll get gas tanks with around 20-gallon capacities for all the fuel you need for a day out on the water pushing the boat to high speeds.
Multiple Price Options
The wake and ski boat come with huge variations on the price tag. The price you pay depends on the size of the boat, the manufacturing brand, and the customizations to the boat.
You can pick up the more affordable models for around $10,000, with professional boats fetching up to $250,000 or more. There’s a ski and 3ake boat to suit any budget, and the dealer will usually offer you a trailer included with your purchase.
However, make sure you keep your budget in mind when making your purchase. These boats typically come with a slew of customizations available, which can add thousands of dollars to the price tag.
Sun Pads and Rear Decks
Models with stern-drive or inboard motors usually feature sun pads in the rear of the boat that can act as casting decks for fishing. The rear deck also makes it easy to get in and out of the water, and some models may also feature stainless steel retractable ladders on the sides of the boat towards the aft.
Disadvantages of Ski Boats and Wake Boats
The ski and wake boat has a specific design, and it’s the best choice for watersports activities. However, these boats do have a few shortcomings.
Limited Standing Room
The wake and ski boat have limited deck space, meaning they don’t offer standing room. These boats move on the water at high speed, and standing on the boat could result in your being thrown from the vessel at high speed, resulting in a severe injury.
Limited Storage Space
The ski and wake boats don’t come with the same storage capacity you find on cuddy cabin boats or multi-hull fishing boats. However, you usually have all the storage space you need for your ski gear and snacks.
Side Driver Configurations
The ski and wake boat often features a side-driver configuration to the port or stern of the vessel. We would prefer to see center console designs, but the positioning of the motor makes it challenging to set the boat up in this manner.
No Ocean-Going Capacity
Most ski and wake boats have a design for use in inland water like lakes and rivers. They don’t suit use on the open ocean, since wakeboarding and skiing are sports suitable for calm, flat waters.
Top Ski Boat / Wake Boat Brands and Models
There are dozens of manufacturing brands producing top-quality wake and ski boats. The variety of boats means you get options at various price points and different lengths, seating configurations, and accessories depending on your budget and needs.
Here are our top choices for the best ski and wake boats available.
The Ski Nautique is one of the best premium-model ski boat brands, with a range of models to suit your watersports needs and budget. Ski Nautique is a recognizable brand, and any serious watersports enthusiast will know these boats.
This boat is the better choice for water skiing. You get a lightweight fiberglass design, reinforced with durable carbon fiber, delivering a soft wake from the motor that’s ideal for skiing. You get world-class performance from the engines and deep V-hull design, allowing easy cutting through the water at high speed.
The solid design offers exceptional stability on the water. You get a bow walk-through for accessing the front and rear of the boat, along with a platform handle, transom stereo and waterproof speakers, a windshield end-cap, and ergonomic helm seating for comfort on longer skiing days out on the water.
This model also features a dashboard with a LINC Panoray Touchscreen. There is a helm command rotary for scrolling through the digital menu and several settings coupled to the electronics system. You get spacious ski lockers for your equipment, keeping everything secure until you reach your skiing destination.
Alumacraft Trophy 175
We realize that many people aren’t dedicated water sports enthusiasts, and you might want a more flexible boat for skiing and fishing. The Alumacraft Trophy 175 offers you the best crossover version, providing you with a setup that’s suitable for watersports and angling.
The Alumacraft Trophy 175 comes with an 18-foot length and a 150-HP outboard motor offering you all the power you need for towing. You get all the storage you need for your gear, and there’s an 18 gallon Live well, a trolling system, and a starboard rod-holding compartment.
The 2021 ProStar offers you excellent value for money, with plenty of functional features catering to drivers and skiers. Best of all, you get an affordable price tag making it a great entry-level boat for first-time buyers.
Some of the standard features included on the 2021 ProStar are its command center offering you a 10-inch touchscreen console with steering and tracking technology for sharp turns and outstanding handling at high speed.
The motors produce a flat wake that’s ideal for skiing. You get accessories like ski racks, under-seat storage systems, a Bimini tower for high-point towing, removable seating, swim platforms for casting, and many more options making this boat a fantastic choice.
Malibu Response TXi
The Malibu Response TXi is a great beginner boat for wakeboarding and skiing. This model comes with a ballast producing the biggest wakes from M5DI/M6DI Monsoon motors. This model is great for first-time buyers, giving you a boat that handles recreational and competition use.
It’s a great boat for building your driver skill, giving you a versatile platform that’s suitable for skiing and wakeboarding. The Malibu Advanced Rudder Control technology produces various wakes on command, with a tracking system offering you consistent pulling.
If you’re into wakeboarding or skiing, the wake and ski boat is the best option available. These boats come with a purpose-built design for watersports, giving you the best platform to enjoy the water.
With so many models available, you’ll need to invest some time into reviewing the best options for your chosen activity.