If you’re a watersport enthusiast who wants to make the most of a summer on the water, it’s important to choose a boat that suits your exact requirements. Here we look at some of the different types of water sports boats available.
Water skiing boat
Ski boats should feature an inboard, direct-drive engine that is ideally mounted amidships (in the centre) giving it excellent balance. This ensures better tracking (holding a straight line) and faster plaining (levelling out at speed) – two things good skiers want.
The direct-drive shaft puts more power into the water and eliminates the need for gearing, while the propellers are tucked neatly away under the transom (the back wall of the boat). Ideally, ski boats have a larger surface area as this means the keel rides closer to the water level and the boat displaces less water, resulting in a flatter wake.
An ideal wakeboard boat features V-drive layout where the engine is mounted astern, near the transom. This rearward mass displaces more water to create a big wake. Alternatively, a sterndrive engine is mounted further aft of this position and provides more balance.
A towing tower is vital as it both eliminates the downward pull of a ski rope mounted at the transom and helps increase the boarder’s airtime.
A key feature for this kind of boat is the ballast control. Ballast can be pumped aboard at the bow, stern, port and starboard to change the characteristics of the wake. Aft ballast provides a longer, flatter wake while ballast astern provides a taller, shorter wake. For wakesurfing (surfing a taller wave, usually untethered), ballast is pumped to one side, causing the boat to lean.
Jet boats are made for speed. There is no rudder or gear casing in the water which provides linear thrust, while the boat’s shallow draught (depth below the water line) allows you to sit in water as shallow as 15cm. This combination of linear thrust and shallow draught allows the boat to change direction quickly. Jet boats also displace less water, resulting in a flatter wake for skiing.
The downside, however, is that jet boats don’t track as well as ski boats with rudders.
A good inboard runabout is less extreme that a sport-specific boat or jet boat. It will do a bit of everything and is ideal for a family. Modern runabouts have configurations that suit a day of relaxation on the water, some serious fishing but also have enough power and hull dynamics for skiing or some serious inflatables.
If you think personal water craft (PWC) don’t have the goods to pull a skier or boarder – think again. Yamaha’s current range of performance WaveRunners pack a 1.8L supercharged four-cylinder engine that allegedly outputs in excess of 200kW.
A PWC costs significantly less to buy and maintain than a boat, takes up far less room in storage and can be towed by vehicles with lower tow ratings than would be needed for a full-sized boat.
Once you’ve chosen your boat, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to tow it.