Advice for Free-skier on Best Wake Open Bow Used Boats

quinnequinne Posts: 73 Baller
I've read all over BOS and Mastercraft forums about the best slalom wake for used ski boats. Lot's of great information. I am looking to purchase a 2000-2010 year boat soon and am looking at Malibu, Mastercraft and SN. Our lake doesn't have a course so we free ski every weekend. I'm around 30mph long line. We get up early to get the glass and then I spend the rest of the day pulling the kiddos around. Two weeks ago we passed a milestone and my 7 year old started slaloming. I nearly levitated across the water to hug her to death! So, we need an open bow and I need to have it hold it's own in a bit of choppy water considering wake boats are sending tsunami's through the cove these days.

I've been spoiled skiing behind a 2001 Malibu Sunsetter for the past year. Loving the wake compared to our beloved old faithful Dixie ski boat. (Although mad love for the sweet Dixie as she's going strong and a great family boat.)

From what I've read I think I need to look for a Malibu Sunsetter, Malibu Response Lxi or Mastercraft PS. I'm not seeing any Centurion Carbon Pro's for sale. I'm following ski-it-again, boat trader and and not seeing anything near me.

Knowing that I free ski around 30 mph and love the '01 Sunsetter wake I would love thoughts from ya'll on what I should lean toward. I have always wanted a MC but it's sounding like the Response might be a better boat for my skill level and family situation. Sorry for the novel, please share your expertise! (and if you know if any good boats for sale near NC.)


P.S. Ya'll gave some great advice a couple of years ago when I was breaking in my Radar Lyric and hating it. I LOVE that ski now and am having the time of my life. Thanks for the support!


  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 867 Mega Baller
    if your budget allows and you can find one , a 2010 Ski Nautique OB would be awesome.
  • Jerry44Jerry44 Posts: 67 Baller
    How far away are you willing to look?
  • quinnequinne Posts: 73 Baller
    If a boat seems like a perfect fit I'm willing to fly out to check it out and then have it shipped. However, that would need to be factored into the total price. So, preferably east coast. But willing to go farther depending on the boat and price. We're looking for very good condition, no salt water, low hours, stored in a covered lift or garage, etc.

    What range is a 2010 Nautique with the above qualifiers?
  • Jerry44Jerry44 Posts: 67 Baller
    Sent you a PM.
  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,153 Mega Baller
    Depending on the budget, an 03-06 Response LXi is tough to beat for a budget concious OB do-everything boat. Does everything well. Also was the first time a manufacturer said "screw it, our only main tournament boat is going to be a walk-through open bow with storage and space". Quite ground breaking at the time as I recall, now it's a standard practice.

    Sunsetter LXi is another great value choice, a bit bigger but great wake and performance from 99-04.

    Really depends on the budget and what you want to do with the boat.
  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 919 Crazy Baller
    edited July 2019
    Here's a boat that may be of interest to you. It doesn't have PerfectPass or Zero Off but that's not a problem if you are only free skiing. Should be driving distance too.
    Nautique 206
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,826 Mega Baller
    edited July 2019
    Since you mentioned:
    1) rough water prowess
    2) kids

    Sunsetter LXi is the boat for you. If you like the Sunsetter wakes, you'll really like the Sunsetter LXi wakes. The reasons I recommend it given the factors above are:

    1) it has higher freeboard than any pure tournament boat meaning it's easier to have on the same water as the surf barges. In my Response LX, I need to be always mindful of other boat wakes. Wouldn't mind a few more inches of freeboard.
    2) kids like to bring friends. You're going to want extra space. The Sunsetter LXi has a lot of that.

    If you're looking for something newer than that (the last good Sunsetter LXi was made in 2004), the Response FXi is a good choice if you can find one. Again, great boat for public water and with more space than a tournament boat. Whereas the Sunsetter LXi achieved its space by being long, the FXi does it by being wide, so is maybe more garage-friendly.

    If I'm overblowing the space thing, the aforementioned Response LXi is a great choice. The '03-06 version has marginally better wakes than the '07-11 version but either would be fine. The '03-06 version does like to dip its nose in the water from time to time though so again, be careful around surf tanks.

    Nautique 206 has firm wakes but is an extremely well-built boat. The 200 is cramped for a family so I'd likely avoid that.

    MC 197 is a great looking, well-built boat but not everyone loves their ski wakes. Stay away from the PS 209. A lady I ski with has one and hates her wakes.

    Happy shopping!
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • Kwoody51Kwoody51 Posts: 134 Baller
    I have a mastercraft x-14 which is a 22’ OB dd boat. Haven’t skied any of the other boats but it works well for my family.

    Prostar 214 is same boat just without tower and built in ballast.
  • moskimoski Posts: 131 Baller
    I was in your situation in 2012 and ski at 32 mph. I’m on a big lake with a lot of fingers and coves and occasionally need to watch out for the wakeboard/wakesurf boats........ Both my kids got up at 7 years old and I had same reaction as you did. Sooo awesome to see that. Anyway in 2012 I bought 1997 MC prostar 205. Great boat for us and then in 2017 sold it and purchased a 2015 Malibu TXI. I really consider the 2011-2013 197 (just a damn gorgeous boat), but I did same and got some ideas on this forum and other forums and ended up getting 2015 Malibu Txi. Very happy with the purchase. I love to slalom ski and barefoot. Kids, well the kids do everything. Just seemed like all fingers pointed in direction of the Txi. Heard it was a bit better on lakes and not getting swamped (think the bow may sit a little lower on 197). Also heard for barefooting that Malibu is better for that too.....

    hope this kinda helps you out. Happy shopping.

    There is a guy in TN selling his 1996 MC prostar 205.... not sure if your looking at that age of boat.
    You might be seeing more boats come up for sale within next few months as the season comes to an end too....
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 1,264 Mega Baller
    edited July 2019
    HI @quinne I was in your area last month, found a little ski lake and ski club in Raleigh, Greshams lake (corner of 540 and Capital Blvd.) Met the guy that heads that up and took a ski there. Skied behind an open bow 2011 MC 197.....had great wake.
  • Ski_DadSki_Dad Posts: 481 Baller
    the wake at 15 off / 30 mph is money on the Sunsetter LXI and Response LXI. The advantage of the Sunsetter LXI is a little more trunk room and it's harder to take a wave over the bow. And they both ride surprising well in choppy water.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,336 Mega Baller
    Ski and drive whatever you are considering.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • moskimoski Posts: 131 Baller
    Check out ski it again website. Some Malibu sunsetter LXI and response lxi for sale in SC and KY. Also Some 197 and X7 for sale too
    Also has boats to check out too.
    Happy shopping.
    Whatever u get, show the group here and show it off.
  • DangerBoyDangerBoy Posts: 439 Crazy Baller
    edited July 2019
    Given the type of skiing you're doing and that you don't require speed control and all that, I don't see why you should limit your thinking to dedicated and often expensive mid-engined inboard fixed prop ski boats. I do the same type of skiing that you do and absolutely love my Glastron GT180 with an Evinrude 150 HO outboard. It's great for waterskiing behind. It has a great wake that's small, soft and has a real nice shape to it. You just slice across it without ever thinking about it or feeling it. In terms of design and passenger seating, etc., a runabout like that has a number of advantages over a mid engined inboard fixed prop ski boat so it makes the boat a little more versatile and practical in some ways.

    Everybody that I ski with in the bay where my cabin is absolutely loves skiing behind my Glastron and the build quality and design of their patented Super-stable-Vee (SSV) are phenomenal. Truly a great riding boat that I'm willing to bet rides much nicer in rough water than any flat or nearly flat-bottomed ski boat.

    As far as the Evinrude ETec outboard goes, I can't say enough good things about it. Just a teriffic engine in EVERY way. Great power and AMAZING fuel economy. Do a search on Evinrude ETec on this forum and you'll find a posting I made a few months ago detailing my experience with owning and operating an ETec.

    So, if you're not locked into considering only mid-engined inboard fixed prop ski boats and are open to other types of boats, I recommend you take a good look at the Glastron GT180 or perhaps a slightly longer model in the same ilk.
    I can take anything apart
  • jjackkrashjjackkrash Posts: 1,040 Mega Baller
    edited July 2019
    What is your budget?

    In that date range, I'd look at a Ski Nautique 206. Its going to have a great wake for faster skiers and shorter line lengths and also handle the chop. The wake will be a bit bigger than the comparable Malibu at slower speeds and longer line lengths, but not bad, and it will handle the chop better and have a better trick wake, IMO, and it tracks like a tank. I had a MY 2003 and it was a very solid boat.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,875 Mega Baller
    You love the sunsetter...go get one.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 863 Mega Baller
    edited July 2019
    My 2¢:
    - If you're free-skiing in open water and have a young family, you want to put an emphasis on slower speed wakes. 'Best wakes' on this site often means something like "at 34mph from 22-35 off", so what you read here might not get you what you want at 15 off 26-32 mph.
    - there's a lot of love on a site like this for Mastercraft and especially Nautiques, and with good reason; they make great tournament-quality 3-event boats. That said, for your use case, I usually come back to Malibu (and sometimes Moomba) for all-around family fun and value: typically great wakes through the speed range, lower used prices, good family-minded interiors (important if you're spending afternoons on open water, instead of skiing short sets off a dock), and in the case of the Malibus, the wedge is great if someone in your crew takes an interest in wakeboarding or surfing. I personally was disappointed with many of the family-oriented/hybrid Mastercrafts & Nautiques. And you might find a Carbon Pro a little too stripped down for long afternoons on open water.
    - if your kids are comfortable and able, don't write off the Response LX' walk-over (vs walk-through bow); depending on the family size, I actually liked it better than most walk-throughs; kids in the bow, adults and toddlers in the more comfortable main seating area.
  • SiouxcitysmittySiouxcitysmitty Posts: 48 Baller
    Although there's been a few comments that you don't "need" speed control, I'd highly recommend it. I have an '04 Response LXI and primarily free ski and the perfectpass is a marriage saver. I always get the speed I want, and it's great when I'm driving the kids surfing (with wedge), or wakeboarding, where maintaining speed at half plane is a pain. And probably not too hard to find in your target vintage/price range.
  • WaterSkier12WaterSkier12 Posts: 269 Baller
    2002 Malibu open bow response was one of our favorite boats.
    Driver’s seat was not the best, other than that, awesome at 15/22 off slow speeds, and barefooting was great behind it. 206 Nautique is nice as wel. Check out the the Prostar, drove one this weekend, very nice, more expensive but well worth it.
  • GolfguyGolfguy Posts: 251 Solid Baller
    I am selling a 2000 Malibu Responce for a neighbor on our lake. Good price 710 hours, however I am in AZ. PM me if you are interested.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 1,264 Mega Baller
    I'll 2nd the recommendation for speed control. Maybe not even as much for free skiing as other family activities that require speeds right where the boat wants to plane (wakeboard, kneeboard, etc....) Much easier to set a speed and let the control keep it steady instead of constantly adjusting.
  • bananaronbananaron Posts: 522 Crazy Baller
    @quinne Sent you a msg
    Ron Engblom Brainerd lakes,minnesota
  • WishWish Posts: 8,423 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited July 2019
    @Dangerboy Had to look up the Glastron. Cool that a big runabout company like that is promoting slalom skiing in their ad. 👍

    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • quinnequinne Posts: 73 Baller
    Wow- thanks everyone for the thorough feedback. I'm going to work on getting some time behind a few of these models so that I will have a better idea of what works for us (skiing and playing). For those of you that have boats you are selling or know of someone who is feel free to PM me. I'm interested in learning about options. If I find a boat and buy it I will share it on BOS. In the next few months if you hear of one please reach out.

    Regarding Sunsetter and Response... did Response replace Sunsetter in later years or were they designed for different purposes? When we go out in my friend's Sunsetter for kid fun we often have 3 kids under 7 and 2 or 3 adults (we're super close around here) and it's middle of the day so we have lots of boat traffic, and when we drop one we are making a tight turn to get back to the little one in the water. The sunsetter has faired well in making that turn without swamping the bow. Would we be able to do the same in a Response or PS197?

    I'm 44 yrs old, have a demanding career and my happy place is the lake WITH MY FAMILY. Slalom skiing with my sisters and good girl friends is my favorite hobby. Pulling our kids around on the lake is my second favorite. Given that I work hard, life's short and I'm not getting any younger I'm ready to buy a boat for ME. Again, thanks so much for all of the advice and support. I'm reading all of it!

  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,826 Mega Baller
    The Response got a walk through in 2003 in the form of the LXi. It grew a bit larger in 2007. Malibu changed the Sunsetter LXi in 2005 and alienated the slalom crowd. It didn't ski any better than a V drive so everyone just bought v drives.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,875 Mega Baller
    The Sunsetter and Response were produced simultaneously with the Response designed as the 3-event tournament boat...available closed bow or a step-over, play-pen open bow. Nice slalom and barefoot boat, lower free board, the open bow is small.

    The Sunsetter was to be more of a family boat, but remained direct drive. Higher free board, full size walk-thru open bow. For a larger boat the wake and handling characteristics are really great. Would get the monsoon motor and plus 1 for whomever mentioned speed control. I use my perfect pass both in/out of the slalom course and find it really helpful. When my daughter pulls me free skiing I can just tell her to hit it and wait for the beep and I know the speed will be right.

    Other advice...don't get tempted by a v-drive. For the most part your slalom wake/handling/driving experience suffer. Nothing drives like a direct-drive.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • slowslow Posts: 515 Crazy Baller
    1999-2001 sport nautique. 20.5ft version of bubblebutt hull. 0pen bow, gt 40 engine
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 863 Mega Baller
    edited July 2019
    @quinne, here's a nerdy breakdown on Responses & Sunsetters (and a few related models):
    - In 1993 Malibu designed a new hull shape ("SV23") that was pretty great for the time; the boat was called the Echelon. By 1995 the same hull shape had found itself into the slightly simpler Response and the bigger, heavier Sunsetter (and a smaller, ugly low-budget thing called the Tantrum, which eventually evolved into the Sportster). While the hull was basically the same, the weight made a difference: Sunsetter and Sunsetter LX tend to have a pretty hard/big wake compared to the Response and Response LX (in Malibu's world, "LX" and "LXi" mean open bow, with "LX" sometimes indicating a walk-over open-bow).
    - In 1998 the Responses switched to a new variant on the hull shape ("SV23 diamond") that really improved the slalom wakes (at some expense to the wakeboarding wakes).
    - Here's the important part for you: from '99-'04 (thanks @UWSkier), Malibu made a Sunsetter LXi with the SV23 diamond, and it was a bit of a family-friendly unicorn: a bigger 21' boat with lots of interior space, but soft and awesome slalom wakes (the Sunsetter LX stayed on the old hull and was more of a wakeboarder's boat).
    - From '04 '05 onward, the Sunsetter lineup got even bigger and in general, less slalom-friendly
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,826 Mega Baller
    Only correction to the above is the Sunsetter LXi changed in 2005. The 04 still had the good hull. Good info.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • CentCent Posts: 250 Baller
    A Centurion Eclipse from around 2,000 to 2,002 has a flat and soft slalom wake. Excellent boat for kids and 15 off. Excellent at the speeds you want. It really should work well for you.

    I have owned/used multiple MC’s, Nautiques, and Centurions over 30 plus years. Have been involved as a boat dealer with all three.

    I still have one of these. A 2002 with a 5.7 fuel injected Mercruiser. It is the one the kids, grandkids and wives really enjoyed. So we still have it.

    Has never had any maintenance issues. Water pump system is durable. Has never had a day out of service. Change oil annually and go.

    Not promoted a lot. Not well known. Not expensive and worth looking to find one. Expect to have mine for many more years.

    Still have two other slalom boats. Much newer. Zero off 6.0 etc. Nevertheless when 8 year old granddaughter goes today this boat will get the call. Same when niece arrives. Same with other kids around bd the lake that request this “boat and old driver” rather than their boats.
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