Boating and water sports are both leisure activities, but unlike, say, hiking or reading a book, they require specialized and expensive equipment to enjoy. Because of this, you want to make sure you spend your money wisely.
Anyone who has owned a boat before knows how important it is to understand what you want from a boat before you buy so that you can find the options that best suit your needs. A boat that suffices for weekend fishing trips might supply the comfort you want, but it probably won’t give you the speed and handling you prefer for water sports.
Even then you have to consider your specific water sport usage. Is your boat for summer trips with the family, towing kids on wakeboards, water skis, inner tubes, and so on? Or are you more interested in competitive water skiing?
In fact, there are several things you’ll need to consider when you decide to purchase a boat suitable for boat-towed water sports. Whether you’ve owned a boat in the past and you have some notion of what questions to ask or this is your first boat-buying experience, here are a few things you should think about before you settle on the perfect boat.
1. Who Is Going With You?
How many people do you want to take on your boat? This naturally affects the size of boat you choose – you want to make sure you understand the capacity before you cram it full of people, as this can affect water sport safety and overall performance.
That said, the size of boat you choose will also have a marked impact on the types of water sports it’s good for. Suppose you only plan to take a small group of just a few people on your boat at any given time. This is ideal because the best boats for many types of water sports tend to be smaller for speed and agility.
Of course, not every 20-22-foot boat is created equally. Will each hold roughly the same number of passengers? Sure, but a direct drive option, for example, is going to be preferable for slalom skiers, while a V-drive configuration is likely better suited to activities like wakeboarding and tubing. If you’re looking at slightly larger boats of up to 25 feet, you might find that those with inboard motors create better waves for wakeboarding.
The point is that you should definitely consider size and capacity in order to make sure you have room for intended passengers, but you also need to realize that this factor works in tandem with other concerns when it comes to how well your boat performs for different water sports.
2. Where Are You Going?
Are you looking for a watercraft suitable for use in oceans, lakes, or rivers? Different boats and motors handle better on different types of water. Whereas larger boats are better suited to large lakes or oceanic use, a smaller boat might handle better on rivers or small lakes, where the water is not as rough.
You’ll also need to consider the bow type on your boat. An open bow is fine for situations where the water is relatively calm, but if you’re going to be in rough, choppy waters, there’s a good chance you’ll get splash damage with water flooding in over an open bow.
3. What’s Your Preferred Usage?
If you want a little bit of everything, chances are you’ll end up with a boat that doesn’t necessarily provide top performance for anything. If you really want a boat that lets you water ski competitively, it’s probably not going to be the best fit for tubing. In other words, you really need to prioritize your most important water sport and buy the boat that is best suited to it. Either that or resign yourself to an all-around boat that will never be the best for any one sport.
4. What’s Your Budget?
Purchasing a boat for water sports is going to cost a pretty penny, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have unlimited funds to get the best boat on the market. For this reason, you need to make sure to prioritize features so you get the most bang for your buck.
Quality is a top concern, but you also need to consider whether you want an inboard or outboard (or other) motor, whether you prefer a V-drive or direct-drive configuration, and even whether starting, dual purpose, or deep cycle boat batteries are better for your needs. Don’t forget to ask about extras like warranty and training to use your new boat. These can cost you up front but save you a lot down the line.