Advantage of a ski boat, advantage of a *nice* ski boat?

I'm a beginner course skier, 15'off 30mph, so in some sense this question doesn't personally matter too much (yet:), but curious either way:

Let's say you have 3 different boats, from worst to best for slalom skiing. A wakeboard boat, a decent older ski boat, and a brand-new top-of-the-line ski boat.

As you step up the 3 levels, what are the advantages for the skier? The obvious one is a smaller and smaller wake... but is that really it? Or is there something else? If so, can it be articulated, or does it just "feel" better somehow?



  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,509 Mega Baller
    Brand New top ski boats in my opinion have the best wake characters for young/new slalom skiers. In general recent advancements have generated bigger roomier safer boats that are less disrupted by crew balance weight slow speeds etc. Than previous generations. At 15 off 28 mph the newest generations are sweet for new and young skiers

    Older generation hulls are largely excellent at higher speeds and shorter lines but start to become curbs as they slow down at longer lines. I feel these are still excellent boats for all around skiing but they're smallish adding a 4th to your crew makes the wakes hard and steep and they tend to be harsher and rougher on 90en water.

    Wake boats are rear heavy plow tractors that can't throw a good wake period.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,144 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    The other difference between the older boats and newer boats can be the type of speed control. Before 2008 there was Perfect Pass in most boats. Later models will likely have ZO.
    This will not affect the fun factor for recreational skiing, but if you want to go to competitions, it's better to train behind the same kind of pull that you will get at tournaments.
  • jjackkrashjjackkrash Posts: 539 Crazy Baller
    You want a boat with the engine in the middle and the pylon right in front of the engine. Almost any direct-drive purpose-built ski boat should be fine for most novice and intermediate skiers. They track better, drive better, and ski better than boats with the engine stuffed into the stern.

    Note: There are a few older outboard boats I actually like skiing behind, like a Barefoot Sanger. I'd take one of these over any wakeboat with a v-drive, but they don't drive or track as nice as a good inboard.
  • JetsetrJetsetr Posts: 261 Baller
    edited August 6
    How much $$$ are you willing to invest in a boat (one of the 4 “F’s)?
    A new boat is 100K +....
    There a lot a really good boats out there for less than 25K.

    I have a total of 6K in my 1989 Brendella. Stargazer Perfect Pass, Digital Speedo, only 951 hours on the boat...
    I’m a good wrench and do all the work on the boat myself. The 351 carb motor is bulletproof. No EFI issues, no TP sensors to mess up etc etc. It’s a simple, lightweight 240hp boat that gets the job done. The ONLY issue I had last season was 1 time the rear needle stuck on the carb and a wack on the float bowl with the crescent wrench fixed that (knowledge is power!!) and we skied the rest of the season with no issues.

    It just depends on what YOU want/expect from your boat...

    The hardcore competition skiers hate PP but for anyone else the extra 94K buys a lot of gas, insurance, burgers, beer and fun...

    I’m pretty sure Terry Winter could rip off a 39 off pass behind my boat with his wife driving (she’s an awesome driver)...

  • DWDW Posts: 1,973 Mega Baller
    Circa early-mid 90's the top ski boats have very good wakes and probably more importantly, the elimination of wood stringers thus all fiberglass construction. Many posters on this site revere SN196's & Prostar 190's as having some of the best slalom wakes of any current boat. The other factor the hard core skier opines about is what brand speed control, PP v ZO.
  • B_SB_S Posts: 222 Crazy Baller
    You want a direct drive ski boat. The advantage of the new one is that it will force you to work well beyond your normal retirement age, thus preventing boredom.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,897 Mega Baller
    In the low teens you can pick up an early 2000 vintage Malibu Response say between 2000-2003 (I think the RLX came out in 04 and they are more money). Those boats have great wakes for beginners almost as soft as the new boats.

    Most inboards from the 2000-09 time period that have been well maintained will continue to run strong. You definitely don't want a wakeboard boat. For where you are as a skier a direct drive ski boat with PP will be great. Until two years ago I trained behind a few different PP boats and competed in tournaments behind ZO and made it work fine.
    Mark Shaffer
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 217 Baller
    Agree with @DW . Amazing older boats < $10K with crazy good wakes for those starting out. Wakeboard boats are slugs.........
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,509 Mega Baller
    @DW @MDB1056 - I proudly own a 94 Prostar 190 - has basically the same engine as a 1991 Chevy Suburban and parts are available for nearly everything about it so extremely low running cost.

    But - the boat is great for 3 adult skiers (driver spotter skier) it is OK for 4 adult skiers but you'll start to notice the extra weight in the wakes, a 5th adult skier puts someone on the floor and the wakes get terribly unbalanced.

    The newer boats - particularly the prostar can sit 3 on the bench, a driver and a skier (5) and the wakes don't really seem to notice.
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,206 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited August 6
    I think I can safely say not one person here would ski any better behind a '97 and beyond Ski Nautique (ok maybe repowered with ZO) than a brand new tug. Driving is a different story, depending on who your pulling though. The new, bigger boats are freight trains, requiring less driver input. You can't beat the new tugs for family-friendliness, with all the space and creature comforts.
    Scott Calderwood
  • escmanazeescmanaze Posts: 682 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited August 6
    What makes a good ski boat?
    Small wakes
    Soft wakes
    Less Spray
    Better Tracking
    Smooth and consistent speeds / times

    How much you care about each of these depends on you and also on your level of skiing and on the level of the driver you have access to.

    A wakeboard boat will be very bad at pretty much all of these items. Don't even consider it.

    The oldest/cheapest boat I would personally even entertain would be the 91-94 MC prostar 190. No wood. Great wakes. Small soft wakes. At your level, you don't care that it had pretty big spray. Also at your level, especially if you have access to a pretty good driver, you don't care that it doesn't have as good of tracking as newer boats. You slap perfect pass on it and you are a really happy camper.

    The next oldest boat to consider would be the TSC1 hull nautiques starting in 97. No wood, small soft wakes, even the spray isn't bad. Pretty good tracking and PP speed control is again, good enough at your level of skiing.

    The next oldest would be a malibu response with the diamond hull and no wood, somebody will have to help me know what year that starts on.

    Boats created after those 3, don't really do any better at the 2 things you probably care most about at your level, which is a small and soft wake. The next 20 years were spent largely in a pursuit of reducing spray, better tracking, and bigger boats overall, and then the switch to ZO speed controls. All of these are things that matter a lot to some people, but I would doubt that they will matter all that much to you right now. If you're getting into 38 or even 35 off and you are skiing tournaments, then ZO really matters, less spray really matters, better tracking probably even matters even if you do have a really good driver just because you are cranking on the thing so darn hard. Shoot, apparently if you're into 38 off, then you think the new microtuners are awesome as well.

    For your purposes, I think you're mostly interested in a small soft wake at your slower speeds an longer line lengths. For that, the 20 year old boats mentioned above can pretty much do just as well as the new boats.
  • Mastercraft81SnSMastercraft81SnS Posts: 109 Baller
    One bad thing about buying an older boat is that some places won't work on them. We won't work on anything 1998 and older. Then agin its most ski boats have a 350 chevy so the might not turn you down.

    I skied behind a Mastercraft NXT when I lived in FL and it was not a wake I would want to ski behind agin.

    If I was looking for a good ski boat it would have to be a direct drive with no wood. I see a lot of 90s Mastercrafts for cheep on Facebook.

    A new boat the best part is you can tell people you have a new boat.

  • Kwoody51Kwoody51 Posts: 52 Baller
    There is a ‘94 PS 205 on the mastercraft forum for $10k right now. Has 1700 hours but looks to be well taken care of.

    PS 205 and PS 190 share the same Hull so generally the comments you hear about PS 190 apply to 205.

    I had a ‘94 PS 205 and the wakes were small and soft - like not noticeable! I don’t shortline so the chine spray was never an issue for me.
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 217 Baller
    @BraceMaker - 94 MC190 is an awesome boat. Keep it foever
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 217 Baller
    Older boats are SO simple to work on, which to me is s huge plus, and money saver. Very little you can’t do yourself.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,039 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    '91-'94 MC Prostar, Bubble Butt TSC-1 Nautique, Supra Ts6m...awesome bargain slalom boats. No wake general very difficult slalom wakes.
    New big 3 slalom boats...great but $$$$
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 800 Crazy Baller
    edited August 7
    a) I agree with @DW: most dedicated ski boats from the mid-90s on are fine (and some from even earlier). If you ski significantly worse on one vs another model in this category, there's something significantly wrong with your techniques through the wakes.
    b) there are lots of direct-drive but larger/heavier/deeper-hulled family-oriented and hybrid (wakeboard/ski) out there and that's where it gets tricky. Some are great, most are not, and while many won't agree with me, the companies that are best known for (a) are often terrible at (b).
    c) on this site, you need to beware reading too much about which boats are the best: we're often talking exclusively about shortlines @ 34/36mph, and usually in the context of skiing sets off the dock on a private lake, with a driver and at most one other person in the boat, and completely dependent on the latest speed control (e.g. 'zero off').
    If you (or people/kids in your crew) ski below 32mph (or like to wakeboard, etc), or you ski from the boat (vs dock) on a public lake spending hours on the water, your use case is different and your priorities should be too. There are boats that are great for the latter use case and they are not the same as the former. Most of the gems people have mentioned above have great wakes at slower speeds but may also be a bit stripped down if you're spending hours skiing from the boat.

    @escmanaze I agree with a lot of your insights. To answer your question, the Response got the diamond hull in '98, although in '99 it also got the rear trunk which can be helpful if you ski from the boat on a public lake.
  • MNshortlinerMNshortliner Posts: 103 Baller
    I’ll respond with my experience. I skied my first year in the course with a ‘97 Malibu VLX(not the diamond hull) and at speed (34-36) the wake is excellent at 15 off. However that is the only length it is good at. Any closer and the wake turns into a big spine.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,509 Mega Baller
    @andjules sort of disagree re trunks. Often the trunk shortens the floor behind the drivers seat so you can't fit a ski there. I usually have 3 or 4 skis behind the driver they don't fit in the trunk well either
  • BrennanKMNBrennanKMN Posts: 427 Crazy Baller
    edited August 7
    I think 'nice' is a subjective term. I will say having a few extra features helps though.

    I had a 1997 TSC1 Ski Nautique - one of the best hulls around according to many. I sold it and got a 2007 TSC3 Ski Nautique 196 with Zero Off. The wake is very similar, but I'd say my bubble butt was better. What I will say is ZO is a night and day difference for me as a skier. I was just starting to run 36MPH 22-28 off (moving up from 34MPH) and our lake has a short setup that requires turning in 100 feet before the 55s. PerfectPass Star Gazer always struggled with getting a consistent speed before 1 or 2 ball. Having the exact same pull every single time made a HUGE difference for me. I went from running [email protected] maybe 20% of the time to running [email protected] 80+% percent of the time in 12 months.

    As long as the boat had ZO I don't think I'd care much. I might get lucky any pick up a few more balls, but I highly doubt it would give me the 12 ball jump having a consistent pull did. If I had a lake that was more accommodating to my PP boat I would have kept it.

    It's all about getting the job done. If you have an older boat at it is getting the job done correctly, I don't see any reason to upgrade. If you have an older boat that is not performing correctly then it might be a good investment for you. This goes back to the 'nice' and subjectivity thought. What does getting the job done correctly look like for you?

    Good wake, open bow, accurate times in a course, easy to drive, just a pylon and an engine? All of that depends on what your goal is.

    If you're not running the course just about any DD boat would be a great ski boat. The course makes a whole host of new problems appear for skiers.
Sign In or Register to comment.