How to choose a boat for water sports
When it comes to choosing a boat for water sports, there are a number of factors to consider: the kind of wake it produces, the price, the propulsion method, the hull shape. All of these features play into the calculation you need to make in order to decide what boat will be best for you.
As we'll come to see, however, choosing a good all-round performer is often a great way to go for 99 per cent of customers.
What makes a good water sports boat?
To speak in the most general terms, there are two things that play strongly into how well a given boat performs as a water sports boat: the characteristics of the wake it produces and the height of the hitch point.
The wake characteristics are the most noticeable thing for the person doing the skiing or wakeboarding. A flatter wake is preferred for skiing, while a more aggressive one is better for wakeboarding.
The hitch point plays an important role too. For skiing, it's fine to have the rope connected at the same height as the skier's hands. Because they're not doing doing jumps, having the force pulling them parallel with the water's surface is a plus. For wakeboarding on the other hand, it's very helpful to have the hitch point higher than the boarder themselves. This is usually achieved with a wakeboard tower. When wakeboarders are doing jumps, having the hitch point up higher makes it a lot easier to get the necessary air.
Things to consider when choosing your boat
1. Propulsion method
Sterndrive boats put out great wakes for wakeboarders. Because the prop on them is relatively close to the water's surface, some of the force produced is directed upwards, forcing the stern down into the water, creating that larger wake.
Inboards and outboards create far flatter wakes, ideal for water skiing. Depending on you taste for wake, this can also be better for towable tubes and kneeboarding too.
Sometimes it can come down to simply taking the boat for a test run before you purchase, to get a feel for the kind of wake it produces.
Although it's not a factor that determine's whether a boat is good for water sports objectively, it is one that plays into whether a boat is good for you. Asking what the best anything is can be pointless if the best is too far out of your price range.
3. What will you use the boat for?
If you're exclusively planning on skiing or wakeboarding, you can afford to be a little more specialised with your boat choice. Yet generally speaking, boats that are designed as ski or wakeboard boats aren't very good at doing much else. If you're planning on using your boat for other activities like fishing or recreational cruising, you'll want to lean towards a more versatile runabout.
4. Place of use
Will you be using your boat exclusively on calm lakes? Will you ever want to take it up shallower rivers, or even out into the ocean? This is something you'll need to consider, as specialist ski and wakeboard boats sometimes struggle in conditions other than a clear lake.
Unless you're the most hardcore of professionals, a cross-over boat that does a bit of everything is a great way to go. The Glastron GTS 185 (pictured above) is a good example of this - a boat that can do many things, and do them all well. It's sterndrive powered and has the optional extra of a waketower, meaning it'll be good for both skiing and wakeboarding.
Are you ready to take the plunge and purchase a water sports boat? Get in touch with the crew at Hunts Marine, and we can offer tailored advice on a boat that'll fit your requirements.