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Will I notice the wake difference?

flanker978flanker978 Posts: 11 Baller
Hey Guys,
Further to my previous post on which boat to buy, I seem to be getting very confused about which has a good wake.
I’m an absolute beginner on the slalom course and the boat will realistically be towing small kids around on doubles more than me.

So my question to you experienced balllers. When I search, for example, a 96 Prostar 205 and read that the wake isn’t as good as a 95! Or that the sportster has a hard wake (just examples). As a beginner, so long as I don’t buy a massive wakeboard boat, am I really going to know the difference?

Also as a busy 39 year old, I don’t expect my progress to be anything amazing. From the one coaching session I’ve had, it seems the bad habits of years of open water skiing are going to take some ironing out.

Would love to hear your thoughts..


  • Kwoody51Kwoody51 Posts: 117 Baller
    As a newb who grew up skiing behind an outboard I can tell you that the ‘95 205 Prostar wake is soft and almost unnoticeable. The 205 didn’t change hull until ‘96, one year behind the 190.

    I can’t comment on differences between ‘95 and ‘96 but can say the ‘95 wake is amazing! I never squared up for hitting like I was used to doing.

    Skiing both is the only way to confirm what you like or don’t like.
  • thompjsthompjs Posts: 542 Solid Baller
    @MISkier summary is pretty good. I've skied everything he mentioned from 22 to 32 off and I don't have any big arguments with it.

    I'm a Malibu promo and of course I'm biased but the off-brands MISkier mentioned are good options for anyone.
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 363 Solid Baller
    edited January 2018
    As other suggested take a test ski behind the boat before you buy it. I would also check out the drivability as well, some boats track and steer better than others. Last, if your going to be running the course getting a boat with perfect pass already installed is a big plus.
  • elrelr Posts: 328 Mega Baller
    IMO wake quality at slow speed long line is the most important thing for a beginning slalom skier and you will notice differences. I noticed the difference between generations of the CC 196 when I was starting out. TSC1 was good but I picked up a speed increment with the TSC 2. Could have been a coincidence but I noticed it immediately.
    Ed Rink - LSF Texas
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,220 Administrator
    edited January 2018
    these are small slow speed wakes

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  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,601 Mega Baller
    I was alway in love with my 98 Nautique 196 wake, and compared to my 14 Prostar, it holds it's own for even 15-28 off at 30-34. I never skied it slower, so can’t say about lower, until you get to slow speeds for kids. At 18-22 it’s a big wake for a kid to decide they’re just going to stay on edge and charge it. The new Prostar was an eye-opener for me towing my ski partner's kid. She always came into the wake, especially offside, in good position and right before she got to it, “squared up”, flattened the ski, and crouched through the wake of the SN. The Prostar, even at those speeds, puts out such a small wake that we have her running the course now at 21mph, and no fear of the wake.
    In fairness, if you ever have a trick skier or wakeboarder, pray you don’t, that wake at those speeds is desirable, where the Prostar does not have it.
    I’m comparing a 20 year old boat to a current hull, but pay attention to those things in your search.
  • flanker978flanker978 Posts: 11 Baller
    Awesome insight guys. So basically, yes I will tell the difference between boats.
    I’m getting the strong love of sn196 and Prostars.

    Does that love extend to the Prostar 205, or is it the 190 most are referring to?
    SN196 seem few and far between down here (Australia). Are older (92-96) sport Nautiques worth a look?
    How does a 96-01 Malibu response lx compare?
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,128 Mega Baller
    The Prostars mentioned are the 190, but I believe the 93-95 205 is a very well respected model as well. It would be a good option.

    I had a 2000 Prostar 205 (based on the 95-97 Prostar 190 hull) and it was good. I only sold it to get Zero Off. It had a slight 22 off bump, but I could handle it at 34 mph. Not sure how it was at slower speeds. 28 off and shorter was excellent. It drove phenomenally.

    For the Response LX, the hull changed in 1998. I would take 1999 and newer for that boat (1999 added the rear trunk). I currently own a 2009 Response LX, which is the exact same hull design as the 1999 and has Zero Off. The wake will be slightly firm, but low. A good option.

    One thing I would try to do is get a fuel injected boat. Carbureted can be good, but you need to be mindful of proper tuning and maintenance.

    Don’t know much about the Sport Nautiques, but I seem to recall there is a compromise on wake quality over the 196. I would probably skip the years you mentioned for that boat.

    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,259 Mega Baller
    As I cannot afford a brand new boat, I have a 1998 Malibu Response LX. As @MISkier said, the hull was the same for many years from 1998 on. I do not have the "trunk" but I don't miss that myself. Coming off small outboard boats for most of my life prior to this boat, the low Malibu wake had always been my favorite of the older boats I had tried. Though I would not discount those here who are stronger/better skiers and know those other older wakes better than I. My 1998 is fuel injected. I think all the LS's after that point were, at least in the States. But of course you should check when you are shopping on whatever boat you are looking at.

    The nice thing about the Malibu when I was shopping was there were a lot of them around with the hull I wanted, and I could find something in my budget (which was small), and choose between boats that had been used and treated differently. The only negative for me is it would be a big deal to add Zero Off, now that I am getting more into course skiing. I am adding Perfect Pass with Z-box, but that is not exactly the same. But Probably close enough for me. At the course I ski mostly when I practice, I just ski behind their newer 2013-2017 Malibu boats, depending on who is driving. I think you need to get up to 2007 or so to be able to add Zero Off. There are threads around on the site to confirm that. I think it is a mechanical vs. electric throttle thing, if memory serves.

    The slow wake/long wake on mine is not quite as amazing as a brand new ProStar. I had the chance to ski behind a few of those this last summer. But still pretty good. So, if that is more your budget, and there are more used Malibu's around for you to choose from, based on my lower end skier experience, you would be fine.
  • skihardskihard Posts: 567 Crazy Baller
    What is your budget? You don't mention that and it could significantly impact what you can purchase.
    As @escmanaze says don't sell yourself short on what you buy you might find that you will do a whole lot more than originally thought.
    Good luck! :)
    Life's about working hard and then having fun on the water!
    I am - are you?
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    You will NOT notice any difference in boats. All of the tournament style boats are capable of improving your skills. The college teams I've worked with have had many of the boats people hate the wake behind yet have gone on to develop into excellent skiers. And I learned behind some interesting boats.

    Choose a boat that can do everything you anticipate behind a boat. Wakeboarding, tricking, kneeboarding, barefooting as well as slalom. If you or your kids get that good, you might need a specialty boat. Until then, get the boat you will take out the most.

  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    PLEASE don't discount some amazing older boats. These were top world class comp boats on their time so you know they're solid and were pulling records at far more than most of us will ever get to. Look at mid 80's - mid 90's Prostars. They are fabulous boats that are pretty bulletproof and have great wakes and just run and run. They're available for a song compared to anything newer today. Unless you're a very serious tournament skier getting into deep short line (35+) you will be able to progress with these boats just fine, and bank thousands. As noted earlier, focus on improving your skiing and not the boat. For what it's worth.........
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,561 Mega Baller
    When looking at Prostar 205's
    92-95 are all one hull, 94+ have EFI standard, pre 94 carb unless LT1
    96 is new hull which lasted till the end of the prostar 205.

    However in 99 they also introduced the 205V, so you could buy a 205 in either DD or V drive in 99 and 2000.

    The 205V from 99 on is also the original X-Star and the X2 Hull.

    So for shopping and your list I would preferentially buy a 92-95 Prostar 205.

    The only things to be fully aware of - some parts in these vintages are getting scarce and people are having to find work arounds and alternative parts for things such as Cam position sensors, fuel pumps etc, particularly on the LT-1 equipped boats.

  • bigskieridahobigskieridaho Posts: 945 Crazy Baller
    Don’t count out the early Centurions. I had a 1992 and the wake was terrific as well!
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,620 Mega Baller
    edited January 2018
    Being in Australia, Malibu is probably your best bet due to the local manufacturing and dealer presence. Plus, you'll probably find more of them to choose from.

    A boat that hasn't been mentioned yet but is definitely worth a look would be the '03 to '06 Response LXi. It has a softer wake than the Response LX and has more room for family and kids. It also has better slow speed wakes than the Response LX. 15 off wakes are right up there with the bubble butt Nautique (at least it was on the '03 I skied a lot). 22 off wake is better IMO due to the smaller rooster tail.

    This is assuming you're looking in the 10-15 year old range for boats. If newer, can't go wrong with any, especially the new ProStar.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • vtjcvtjc Posts: 277 Solid Baller
    The boat brand specific forums can also provide information about specific models that may help you narrow your search.
    These are some threads about MasterCrafts:
    MasterCraft Skier/ProStar/ProStar 190: A History (1968-2009)
    1995-97 ProStar 190/19 Skier/SportStar 19/ ProStar 195/X-5: A History
    1996-2000 ProStar 205/205V/Maristar205/X-star/X-2/X-1: A History
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    I stand by my statement - You will NOT notice any difference in boats. Despite the disagrees I get and everyone's love of their fancy new boats, most of us learned behind boats with bigger harder wakes than what the current boats offer. The wakes are good enough to learn the basics - for you, your wife and your kids.

    This site has a heavy slalom bias. But there are lots of other aspects to the sport. And the fine slalom wakes aren't best for tricks and wakeboarding. All waterskiing disciplines are fun. It's a tradeoff.

    Disclaimer: While I do like slalom, I love tricks the best.

  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    @ScottScott Most skiers can notice differences between boats, of course I agree with that. But as long as we are talking about tournament approved direct drive inboards from the last 20 years, there will be no difference in the learning curve of developing skiers.

    I've coached hundreds of college skiers over decades. The ones who are most active and accomplished now are the kids who (after starting pretty close to zero buoys) learned behind the hated (here) Mastercraft Prostar. Of course, I am talking about overall champions. But overall skiers need to be pretty skilled at slalom as well.

    If one boat generated OTF sends you away from the sport then something else probably would instead. Maybe it's a good toughness filter to have a manageable challenge in the wake.

    The tiniest slalom wakes are very limiting to developing trickers and wakeboarders. More so than the an approved boat's slalom wake affects slalom development. Playing around on tricks and wakeboards is exactly the thing little kids love and need to build a long term relationship with the sport. He did say he has kids...

    Avoid the V-drives, pontoon boats and jet boats for sure. Get what gets the family on the water most.

  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    If nearly 20 yrs ago they were breaking into 41 and today skiers are breaking into 43 is that really THAT much the boat? The speed hasn't changed and the buoys are the same. For what it's worth .......
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,220 Administrator
    @MDB1056 No. There have been some major technological changes but I think you could retrofit a 20 year old boat with zero off and the sports best skiers would nearly come to the same scores.

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  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    @Horton - thanks. We're in agreement- the boat isn't making much difference . I hate to see people spend way more than needed for a negligible gain in performance. Cost / Benefit. Invest in coaching, training, and equipment which will generate far greater returns.
  • flanker978flanker978 Posts: 11 Baller
    Awesome discussion guys.
    @andjules great summary.
    I am now leaning more towards a Malibu response. Being in Australia, there are lots more Malibu’s tha the other big us brands.
    Probably the only other confusion is with the locally made smaller brand boats. Most are not tournament approved and being so few around, it is hard to get an idea of their quality as a slalom boat.

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