If you're a water skier in need of a new ride, be aware that some types of boats are better for waterskiing than others. Today's special niche of ski boats coddle to and are specialized to the needs of water skiers.
When buying your boat, first think whether you will use your watercraft only for water skiing, or will it be used for cruising and fishing as well? Next, think about on what type of water environment you generally boat: a lake, the ocean, a river? Consider whether you ski with family, one other person, a group, or team. Select a boat that best fits the activities, number of passengers and environments that you will encounter.
When looking for a boat, both skiers and wake boarders should universally be concerned with the boat’s power output. Find a boat that is powerful enough to easily pull you out of the water and will not create rough waters behind it. Handling, tracking abilities and maneuverability are also important characteristics to note. Also look for convenient mounting platforms, ladders and storage capacity for equipment.
Next, think about whether you will use the boat for beginner’s waterskiing, stunt or expert waterskiing or wakeboarding. Skiers may prefer small, soft wakes, while wake boarders and stunt skiers may prefer large, high wakes to jump.
There are generally three types of boat engines that provide unique benefits to skiers. Inboard engines provide the most power, while cheaper outboard engines – which attach to the transom of a boat - are better for maneuverability. Inboard/outboard engines combine a powerful inboard engine with an outboard drive system for tight handling.
As far as the actual boat, direct-drive boats are powerful and have a flat bottom that produces a small wake. They handle and track well. Direct-drive boats are good for skiing, especially slalom skiing, but aren’t good for cruising on choppy waters. As the engine compartment is located in the middle of the boat to evenly distribute the weight, passenger seating is limited.
V-drive boats are designed with a dramatic V-shaped hull that cuts through choppy waters. These boats are quieter for passengers but produce a large wake – great for wakeboarding. Some are equipped with a ballast tank - a tank that can be filled with water to help lower the boat further into the water to control the size of the wake. V-drive boats offer higher seating capabilities and a tower above the cockpit where towlines can be attached.
Newer crossover boats are designed for every kind of skier and wake boarder. They usually have a direct-drive engine, and feature extra large ballast tanks that hold up to 1,600 pounds of water, as well as adjustable trim plates, which control the boat’s lift.