ski/wake/surf boats

For the serious ski or wake enthusiast, the performance — and wake — of a dedicated inboard towsports boat is hard to beat. The classic “ski” boat features a shallow hull angle at the back of the boat. This angle is referred to as the transom deadrise. Ski boats also usually position the engine in the center of the boat. This combined with the shallow deadrise allow the boat to run at a level attitude. The result is strong acceleration and minimal wake size, allowing slalom skiers to quickly get up and on top of the water and effortlessly carve back and forth behind the boat with minimal interruption.

In contrast, its wake-oriented counterpart features a deeper-v shaped hull (boat bottom), and positions that engine at the back of the boat. The boat’s running attitude is further altered with extra weight, also called “ballast”, or specially crafted tabs or hydrofoils, pumping those wakes up as large as possible and shaping them to create the perfect launch ramp for wakeboarders to achieve their biggest air. Propellers are tucked well under the bottom of the boat for safety and performance; steering is accomplished via a pivoting rudder.

This configuration also makes an inboard an ideal choice for the fast-growing sport of wakesurfing, as surfers are positioned in close proximity to the back of the boat. Traditional sterndrives or outboards should never be used for wakesurfing, as their props are far more exposed.

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… which activities you'll most enjoy
Water skiing started the watersports craze, and it’s still the favorite pastime of many enthusiasts. Start kids or beginners out on combo (twin) skis; more advanced skiers can drop a ski to go “slalom,” carving across the water on an agile single ski. Those that prefer to take things skyward will enjoy wakeboarding and the seemingly endless array of aerial maneuvers that are possible. Wakeboarders use a sideways stance to ride a single, wide board similar to a skateboarder or snowboarder, and the wake as a ramp to launch themselves into the air. Wakesurfing is also growing fast in popularity, with riders literally able to surf the wake behind the boat. With its low speeds, wakesurfing is low-impact and accessible to a wide variety of ages and skill levels. Look for ballast tanks, tabs or hydrofoils to alter wake size and shape. Center-mounted tow pylons (attachment points for the riders rope) provide a solid pivot point for skiers. Wakeboarders prefer elevated towsports towers, which anchor the towrope higher off the water for better height on jumps.
… which engine is right for your boat.
Sterndrive or jet-powered boats remain a solid choice for recreational skiing and wakeboarding. The boat's running attitude can be altered with similar hardware to an inboard, including ballast and tabs. While traditional sterndrives are not safe for wakesurfing, a new innovation — the forward-facing sterndrive — does make it possible for sterndrive manufacturers to safely supply a wakesurfing-capable engine. Forward-facing sterndrives locate the propeller on the front, rather than the rear of the drive unit, to position the prop safely out of reach. Jets, with no exposed propeller, are also a viable choice for recreational wake surfing.

The traditional inboard, sometimes called a direct drive, positions the engine in the center of the hull to help maintain a level running attitude. The driveshaft passes through the hull and connects the engine to a fixed propeller. Steering is accomplished via a movable rudder, located farther back from the propeller blades.

V-Drive is a variation on the inboard theme. The engine is positioned toward the back of the boat, or the “stern”, freeing up space in the main seating area, or “cockpit” and adding weight to naturally boost the boat’s wakes. The driveshaft runs forward to a v-shaped linkage, where it reverses direction and exits the hull to the fixed propeller. A steerable rudder, farther back from propeller, controls the boat’s direction.

Sterndrives tuck the engine below an upholstered lounge, or “sunpad, or the engine box, and allow for a clean, uninterrupted swim platform off the back of the boat, or “stern”. While people can wakeboard and ski behind a traditional sterndrive, wakesurfing requires a forward-facing sterndrive for safety.

A variation on the sterndrive, forward-facing sterndrive engines position the propeller at the front of the drive unit, rather than the back. This positioning tucks the propeller safely out of reach underneath the bottom of the boat, or “hull”, and makes these engines a viable and safe choice for wake surfing.

Jets have no exposed propeller, relying instead on an enclosed impeller and jet nozzle to deliver the engine’s thrust. Jets typically can venture into shallower waters, boast rapid acceleration, and feature nimble handling.

Quick Stats

  • watersports
  • day cruising
  • 14 Max
  • 18 - 28 ft
  • inboard engine
  • sterndrive engine
  • trailerable