For water skiing enthusiasts, the boat that is used is one of the key elements of the entitle experience. That is equally true for enthusiasts of wakeboarding, whether you are at the end of the tow rope or you’re at the helm, manufacturers have been tweaking their products over the year, as part of their effort to make their water sport boats the best in one of the most competitive segments of the marine industry. What that means to consumers is, just about any tow boat you buy will be a very good one.
That said, while just about any boat in this segment of the market will be good, there are still some boats that stand out for one reason or another. These are all sleek and sporty and fun to drive, and they have open form decks and enough lounge seating to keep the whole gang together. They all have plenty of power, even as they save on fuel. What follows is our choice for the five best boats for water skiing for 2018. Because all of these choices are great for an avid water skier, these are presented in no particular order. Check out all five and plan on having fun in the sun all through 2018.
Since MasterCraft was founded years ago as a builder of ski boats, it should surprise no one that the company continues to build some of the best tournament ski boats on the market. One of its finest entries is the ProStar, which is one of their highest-performance boats ever. The 2018 version actually improves on its predecessors, which placed MasterCraft at the top of the game in the first place.
While slalom skiing has fallen behind wakeboarding and wakesurfing in terms of popularity these days, the needs of the tournament slalom skier haven’t changed much at all. However, the ProStar has changed. The changes are not major, but they do matter where it counts. For example, the interior of the ProStar is, as always, still focused on a direct-drive inboard, with a helm that is remarkably driver-focused. There are also two-up observer seats with a split bench at the rear, in part because there is now a step-through to the swim platform, which is made of the same teakwood that was used on first MasterCrafts when they were built in 1968. There is also a surprise lurking when you open the bow cover; room for more people.
The 2018 version of the MasterCraft ProStar also comes with more horsepower than was even thought possible from a small-block V8 back in 1968 and these boats make the best use of all modern advances in boat manufacturing technology that have come along in the last 50 years, including the best possible use of a half-century of hull technology that creates smooth wakes that make slalom skiing the best it can be. The fact of the matter is, MasterCraft ProStar can be considered a superior feat of engineering and science in the pursuit of the ultimate pulling machine.
It’s really no wonder why this boat has been setting new records all over the world time and time again. That is not hyperbole; Mastercraft ProStar is the only boat ever certified for all five USA Water Ski events, but it has managed to record more world records than any other boat in competition. According to many, the MasterCraft ProStar is one of the highest-performing inboard ski boats ever created. And the 2018 version maintains that tradition. Slalom skiers are always on the lookout for softer, flatter wakes and less spray at shorter line lengths and the ProStar does that.
Malibu TXi MO
Even the most passionate and professional water skiers don’t want that much from a ski boat. They just want one that tracks as straight as possible and leaves the smallest and softest wake. And it also helps it the boat helps water skiers break records. That is why, in the market for ski boats, the original Malibu Response TXi is considered a legend. The boat has been racking up world records over the years; at least ten, overall. The all-new 2018 TXi is designed to do two things; to carry on the Malibu tradition of excellence and to deliver the next generation of ski boat dominance. According to many who have used it, the Malibu TXi is accomplishing both quite well.
The Malibu TXi features laser-like tracking and precision handling, which enable it to do a lot more than even its predecessors. Its three-finned T-Cut Diamond Hull leaves behind incredibly soft, flat wakes, which makes water skiers very happy. The Malibu TXi is also a very beautiful and stylish ski boat, with a mixture of luxury and style that will make consumers feel good while they run it on their favorite lake. It comes with an ISOTTA steering wheel, an acrylic walk-through windscreen, dry storage, including a USB charging port, side combing pads with storage beneath. There are also aluminum grab handles, folding ski racks and storage compartment lids.
The Malibu TXi offers several options, including a traditional closed bow or a seven-seat open bow, as well as the elite Malibu Open Edition, which can come with either bow option. Inside, the Sea Deck foam deck covering in the Malibu TXi makes a day on the water even more comfortable and the helm features a dash with minimalist displays that make full control feel less cluttered. It is also set lower, so as to improve sight lines. In short, the Malibu TXi. The boat’s driver works from both a 12-inch and a 7-inch touchscreen display, to set the boat up to their liking, and to monitor speed and fuel. The boat’s Zero Off GPS cruise, the driver is able to set the speed, the course and just take off, so they can focus more effort on giving the skier the best possible tow.
The boat’s overall design, including the standard adjustable rudder tab and the T-Cut Diamond hull, serve to reduce the boat’s footprint in the water and also helps it track straight. Because of the design, the Malibu TXi throws far less of the water spray that can sometimes obscure the skier’s view of the next slalom gate.
The 2018 version of the R21 is Tigé’s latest and most affordable tow boat, and it is chock full of so many features, you not realize it’s so affordable. Tigé has managed to include many great features into one really nice ski boat, at a price water skiers might find irresistible. The Tigé R20 in nil way sacrifices performance, even though is is once of the smallest boats in the budget-friendly R Series. The way they do this is by limiting the number of luxury features, not skimping on performance, In fact, the Tigé R20 features the same ballast numbers as the Tigé RZR, which is their luxury 20-footer, which means it manages to provide the surfing is evenly weighted.
The 2018 Tigé R21 features the Surf Link remote, and it interfaces with the TAPS 3 surf system, which allows the driver more control over the shape of the wave and when it switches. While the R21 may not have all the tech to be found in its more expensive brethren, the boat looks really good, for a budget entry, including the signature Tigé diamond stitching, a vinyl accent on the base of the diamond tower, and a dash that looks both minimal and modern, with a touchscreen and plenty of control on this little budget boat.
The Tigé R21 may be about perfect for the buyer who just wants to water ski from a boat that is small and easy to both trailer and store. You can’t take dozens of people and have a party, but you can take up to 14 people and certainly have fun with this beautiful smaller boat. And you won’t be disappointed, because the boat has plenty of features that are rarely found in a boat made for value. While there may be some bells and whistles missing on the Tigé R21, performance is rated as excellent and it’s fun to operate. Its wave has been described as “substantial” and it has lots of power, which are two things not always associated with a boat in the 21.5-foot range with a value price.
For anyone looking for a new ski or wakeboarding boat at a reasonable boat that is reasonably prices, the Moomba Mondo has to be part of the discussion. Moomba is a well-established boat builder who has long been known for its penchant for building a great product for the money. One of the best things about most Moomba boats is, you save money, but you never wish you’d spent more.
The Moomba Mondo, for example, comes with a lot of great features, including the seating, the tower, and a lot of power. However, the Mondo also comes with several modern technological features that make it one of the best in any price range. Among those features include Moomba’s Flow 2.0 surf system; the new Moomba SmartPlate 2.0, which is about 50 percent larger than version 1.0; the Moomba Launch System and; the Moomba AutoWake, which uses predictive state technology to automatically adjust ballast.
Moomba has been a value leader in the tow boat market for many years, and the Moomba Mondo is one of their best values. For example, one of the latest trends for tow boats is the use of touchscreen digital displays capable of storing multiple rider preferences and adjusting the boat’s ride characteristics to tailor them to each skier or wakeboarder. And while that type of technology costs money, Moomba developed the Digital Cruise Pro II, which acts as a speedometer and cruise speed control, and which adjusts ballast levels in the port, center, and starboard bladders, and displays wake plate position. The Digital Cruise Pro II interface uses rubberized buttons beneath the screen icons that guide the user and it does almost as much as many of the more high-tech touchscreen systems, even though the MSRP for the Moomba Mondo is less than $54,000.
The Moomba Mondo is well-suited for pulling slalom skiers. The ski pylon pulls up from the front of the sun pad for a level tug, and the patented Moomba Multisport Wakeplate lets the boat’s driver fine-tune the wake even further. The standard ballast system holds up to 1,300 pounds of water weight, which results in prodigious wakes at the stern. Another great Moomba feature is the Surf + Swim platform, which has a flat, molded bottom with angled corners that don’t disrupt the wakes as they curl behind the boat. Whichever water sport you’re into, the Moomba Mondo will likely be a great choice.
Axis Wake A20
Axis Wake has built up an excellent reputation as a value brand to its corporate sister, Malibu Boats. Axis Wake has a commitment to build value-priced boats that let many more people shop for the best choices within their budget without having to sacrifice quality. Thankfully, the A20 follows that mission very well. While the 2018 Axis Wake A20 doesn’t come with all the latest bells and whistles and high-tech options that come in the more expensive Malibu models, but when you’re having fun riding behind the boat, there’s a good chance you won’t notice.
That’s because the A20 comes with plenty of extras, such as the Axis Performance Surf Package, which includes the Power Wedge II hydrofoil, Surf Gate and Surf Band, which is a controller that is worn on the rider’s wrist and can adjust the Wedge and change the surf wakes from side to side and even change the speed of the boat or the volume of the tunes being played through the boat’s excellent Bluetooth sound system. Given that most of that wasn’t available on even the nicest luxury boats just a few years ago, the fact that it’s available on even a value-priced boat makes the Axis Wake A20 one worth considering.
The wake created by the Axis Wake A20 is forgiving which makes it fun to learn to jump or to land inverts and perform other tricks. Any rider will be comfortable with the A20 because of its moderate shape and transition. With the inclusion of Surf Gate and a solid stock ballast system, the A20 has a lot of power and the wave face is such that you never have to work hard to keep within the sweet spot. The A20 a small boat that packs a lot of power in its little frame. It is comfortable and easy to use, and there is plenty of seating for up to a dozen people to enjoy a fun day on the water.