5 Key Tips When Buying A Wake Boat

Choosing the right wake boat is something that you should take seriously. Whether you want to excel in sports related to wake boats or purchase one for traveling, it is a must that you take the following vital tips before you finalize your decision. Before buying a wake boat ensure that you do your research.

Boating is not for everyone as it is an expensive sport. The boat itself is not cheap, and so are the other expenses such as fuel, accessories, repairs, and maintenance that you will all need to pay to preserve it. So you must be wise with your decision. On the other side, what you are actually paying for is the pleasure and experience it will give you and your loved ones.

Before anything else, identify what your goal is. Will you use it to play water sports? If yes, which sport specifically? You can undertake several sports with your wake boat, and each of them is distinctly different from others. The features are different, and so is the function. Thus, finding out which activities you prefer requires purchasing a specific type of boat to meet all your requirements.

Mastercraft NXT22 wakeboard boat
image credit: Mastercraft

What Size Boat Do You Need?

A part of this is finding the correct size. Typically, boats used for wakeboarding measures an average length of 18 to 25 feet. 

There are three critical questions to answer.

  • Who are you planning to take boating with you, children, adults?
  • How many seats do you need?
  • What are you planning to use the boat for mainly?

You also want to consider who will use it in the long run aside from you. Are you fond of extra thrilling activities, or do you just want to chill and relax while basking under the sun? All of these questions are important to know how you can maximize and enjoy the features of your boat. 

Table of Contents

Axis 22 wakeboard boat on the water

A Ballast System is a Must-Have for a Wake Boat.

Ever wonder how a simple boat can create a magical stroke at the waves? The key to having the best wake boat is in the ballast system.

Ballast bags

Ballast bags are sections of a ship’s hull that allow for extra weight in the boat to create a bigger wake for surfers. These bags come in different sizes and can be filled with water to act as a stabilizing system for the boat.

Correctly using the ballast bags has a significant impact on the shape and size of your wake. If you want to have a smooth, vertical wake, filling the ballast bags at the front-most part of the boat is suggested. But, since most surfers love to play with the big waves without a rope pulling them, filling the ballast bags at the back to create a bigger wake. Passionate wakeboarders and wake surfers mostly use this method because of how large the wakes are with the ballast bags at the rear of the boat. 

Built-In Ballast System

While many boats use bags or sacks as a ballast system, some modern boats already have built-in ballast in them. Avid wakeboarders and surfers typically use built-in ballast systems because they offer more convenience than the ordinary ballast bags that need to get filled.

A ballast system is a must-have for every wake boat. However, ballast bags are the better option when it comes to portability. One advantage of using ballast bags is that they can be transferred from one boat to another, depending on the surfer’s preference. All you need is to bring a pump to fill and drain the bags, and you’re good to go. Not only to increase more hull displacement to it but also to maintain the boat’s stability during your trip.

Do I Need Wave Plates on my Wake Boat?

Wake plates or wave plates are other features you may want to look for when choosing a wake boat. As an owner, you want to enjoy all possible activities and sports using your boat. Thus, there is no better way to use it than to wakeboard and surf. Of course, your goal is to groove and glide with a bigger wake, and sometimes driving your boat alone is not enough to create one.

Wake boats require a certain power level to create a large wake successfully. However, not all boats have the same engine, so others prefer to use wake plates to help them shape a wake. Wake plates and trim tabs are almost essentially the same. Both metal plates are attached to the rear part of the boat, and they both use a hinge and a hydraulic shock to fasten them. 

What do wake plates do?

Wake plates don’t actually create bigger wakes, but they push the boat’s rear to lessen the sharpness of the boat’s angle. Hence, wake plates work by drawing the stern of the boat deeper in the water. The pressure created will then extend the vertical reinforcements that strengthen the boat. Thus, the sides will then displace more water, and as a result, the boat will create a larger and more surfable wake. 

Another trick is to stack multiple wake shapers on the opposite side of your surfing area. However, be careful when choosing your wake shaper because every inboard hull has a different setup. Wake shapers are expensive, so you may want to think about them first before buying.

Are wake plates worth it?

There are many ways to increase a wake’s size and quality, such as having a good ballast system, accommodating more people on the boat, adjusting the surf tabs, shifting weight from side to side, and adding wake shapers. But to make it more convenient for you, buying wake plates for your wake boat is a good investment, especially if you are a fan of the sport.

What Is the Best Hull Design for a Wake Boat?

The hull is considered one of the most significant features of a boat as it is the part that helps keep the entire vessel floating on the water. The hull serves an essential function in ensuring the boat maintains its maximum stability. It also protects the ship’s cargo, equipment, and accommodation spaces from any damage caused by flooding and bad weather conditions. Finding the best hull design that can guarantee good performance, efficiency, and speed should be your top priority.

There are four types of boat hulls: flat-bottomed hull, round-bottomed hull, v-shaped hull, and multi-hulled. 

Flat Bottom Boats

Boats with flat-bottomed hulls are generally great for fishing and used on small bodies of water due to their stability. 

Rounded Hull Boats

For rough waters, boats with round-bottomed hulls are the best. This hull type is designed to operate smoothly and effortlessly through the water. However, one disadvantage of using round-bottomed hulls is they can get unstable and turn over more easily than others, which is why you should be more careful when riding boats with this type of hull.

V-shaped Hulls

V-shaped hulls are considered planing hulls, which means they are designed to move quickly and smoothly even with strong winds and rippling waves. Boats with v-shaped hulls are also equipped with a bigger engine than flat-bottomed and round-bottomed hulls.

Multi Hulled Boats

Multi-hulled boats are considered the most stable type of hull on the water. Depending on the shape and size of the engine, you can either have the planing or displacement hull type. Examples of boats with this hull are pontoon boats and catamarans.

Axis A20 wakeboard boat
image credit: Axis Boats


Among the many different designs available, multi-hulled boats and V-shaped hulls can be considered the best hull designs for wake boats. These hull shapes are the most stable of them all, and they can go anywhere and survive any weather.

Open Bow or Closed Bow Wake Boat

Like anything in this world, boats also come in a few different styles. Bow boats can be separated into either an open bow or a closed bow wake boat. So before you decide to buy one, it would be best to understand them in detail first. 

An open bow boat, just like how it is termed, seats its passengers out in the open. If you look at the boat’s exterior, you will see that the passenger seats are in the bow area of the boat. While great for family-friendly activities, open bow boats can only be used on smooth water. Therefore, bringing it to the ocean can put a risk not only on your boat but also on the people on it. 

Maybe you’ve known about bowriders, deck boats, or jet boats. These three are only just a few common examples of open bow boats. Some others include dual console, center console, ski boat, fish and ski boat, and of course, wake boats. As most open bow boats are limited to smooth water surfaces, other boats may still go beyond the standard specifications to meet a specific purpose.

On the other hand, closed bow wake boats are designed for the sporty fellows in mind. As the name describes itself, closed bow wake boats provide extra seats and storage for accessories in the closed deck instead of the seats in front. With extra amenities, this type of boat can be used on any trip you want. You can use it for a day trip, or if you plan on staying up all night on the lake. Closed bow boats have a cabin that can occupy up to six persons. The seats of closed bow wake boats are in the middle of the boat.

How Much Power Do I Need for a Wake Boat?

When choosing a wake boat, the next question that would come to your mind is how much horsepower will you need to tow it? Horsepower (HP) refers to the unit of power an engine or motor produces. On average, wakeboarders can move at a speed of 16 to 19 mph, which is slower than skiing with 20 to 30 mph. 

Given the standard speed of 16 mph, a skilled wakeboarder can typically ride a flat-bottomed hull boat with a 25 horsepower engine. However, to make it easier for the surfer, you may need to tighten the rope and shove it off at an angle and not face directly at the rear of the boat. This position will then drive the boat faster and put pressure on the rope that pulls the wakeboarder or surfer. 

Tige RZX20 wakeboard boat
image credit: Tige Boats

But take note that this technique may not apply to small boats since they don’t have enough horsepower to create a great wake. Instead, heavier boats with a strong propeller and engine can produce larger wakes. The heavier the boat (which may include passengers and a good ballast system), the greater the size and quality of the wake will be. One good example is a 135 HP wake boat engine with a maximum capacity of 6 passengers. Since the weight is heavy, it would have more than enough power to pull a wakeboarder out of the water. And within 4 seconds, the person will reach the shore while maintaining speed.

While a boat with an average power of 40 HP can pull a single wakeboarder, it may not be enough to create a wake that one can ultimately enjoy. Thus, raising it to 60 HP can add more thrill. It can even pull two lean wakeboarders (or equivalent to 2 children). But if you are looking for more excitement and pleasure, a minimum of 90 HP and a maximum of 115 HP will surely bring out the adrenaline in adults like you.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Wake Boat?

The price of a wake boat varies, depending on the size, type, design, and overall build. But you should be aware that wake boats for surfing or boarding are indeed expensive. This expense is because wake boats are large enough to carry several passengers. Hence, owning one means that you can bring your family, friends, and loved ones while being able to party, lounge, watch the sunset, and enjoy the beauty of the vast ocean. With these benefits, you can expect that the price tag of a wake boat would cost you a decent sum of money.

Typically, the average price of wake boats would go from $150,000 to $200,000. But top-of-the-line models cost over $200,000. Compared to the inboards, sterndrive wake surfing boats are far less expensive. For as low as $50,000, you can already have your wake boat. Given this price, many more people have access to wake surfing. This sport is popular not only because it is accessible but also because it is fun. All ages are welcome to wake surfing, including people aged 40 and above.

It is essential to understand that it’s not all about the purchase price, and spending does not end after buying the boat. Wakeboarding is a rich man’s sport. Just like a car or any automobile, owning a wake boat would also mean that you will need to spend for the maintenance plus other costs, which may include:

  • Towing the boat from one point to another
  • Gas for your trips
  • Storage fee for storing the boat during winter
  • End season maintenance fee
  • Repair fees
  • Accessories
  • Boat license and trailer
  • Boat insurance

Owning a wake boat is genuinely fulfilling, but it can also be quite expensive. A well-maintained engine should last an estimate of 1000 to 2000 hours. But it can be prolonged depending on how you take care of it.

Final Words Before Buying A Wake Boat.

There are many factors to consider when choosing your wake boat. If you love to stay in the waters or think that you will spend most of your time doing water sports (wakeboarding and wake surfing), it is a sign for you to buy.  

Just like cars, boats also decrease in value. Thus, if you ever decide to sell your wake boat in the future, remember it will depreciate an estimated $4,000 for every season. 

In the end, the best wake boat is the one that could provide all your needs and wants. It should meet your expectations, and it should serve the proper purpose. If you find yourself having difficulty managing it, it may not be for you. Make sure you consider these questions before buying a wake boat.

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