A-Z Boat Guide – Wake and Ski Boats

When buying your first boat, it can be overwhelming to figure out what type of boat is right for you. Here at Skier’s Marine, we want to be your education source and guide you to the perfect for your family. Overall, most boats fit into four usage categories: wake and ski, cruising/pleasure boating, fishing, and thrill-seeking. Here, we’ll briefly cover which types of boats are the best wake and ski boats and the benefits of each. If you’re interested in fishing, cruising, or thrill-seeking boats, we will cover those in separate posts you can find here

Let’s get started! When talking about wake and ski boats, there are two main types of boats which are designated by their engine locations: inboard and inboard/outboards

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First, let’s talk about Inboards. Inboards make a lot of sense for people who spend a significant portion of time behind the boat, enjoying many watersports and cruising. Inboards make wakesurfing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, waterskiing, and tubing very easy thanks to their design and integrated technologies. Another benefit of inboards is the open seating layout, making it easy for people to enjoy the water in an atmosphere that encourages interaction. 

Inboard wake and ski boats have many design elements that make them great for families who enjoy watersports:

  • Inboards are a safer option as the prop is underneath the boat while the motor is inside it. These locations allow for swimming off the back of the boat without worrying about ever hitting the prop and make the boat very safe for wakesurfing which is performed right off the back of the boat. 
  • These boats tend to have the most technology of any other boat segment, aside from saltwater fishing boats, which allows them to manage many critical watersports functions through saved profiles and personalized preferences. With cruise control, ballast and plate monitoring systems, and in some cases inclinometers to measure pitch and roll, the boat does the heavy lifting for you.  
  • The inboard engine design makes boat operation underway remarkably easy. Since the prop location is under the boat, there is no trim to worry about and minimal bow rise on takeoff. Just apply throttle and steer; it’s that easy. 
  • The spacious interior layout allows for all-day comfort and fits a larger group than similarly sized fiberglass sterndrive and fishing boats. 
  • Newer designs are heavier and deeper than older generations allowing for smoother rides (in some cases as soft as a sterndrive) and more storage for all-day boating.
  • All newer inboards designed for wake sports will have towers to provide more board storage and integrated biminis to offer shade on hot days.

Inboard boats are incredibly versatile, perfect for those who want to enjoy watersports and cruising the lake. They come in various size options between 20 to 26 feet, allowing you to find the perfect size for your waterway.  


For clients looking to get involved in wakeboarding and wakesurfing but spend the majority (70%+)  of their time cruising a Sterndrive with a forward drive and cruise control may be a great solution. Sterndrives with forward drives, also known as inboard/outboards, help bridge the gap between the traditional sterndrive cruiser and the inboard.  

Let’s look at the benefits of a sterndrive with a forward drive and surf system:

  • Sterndrives are known for their smooth ride characteristics and higher cruising speeds. This setup can be beneficial for clients on larger bodies of water or intercoastal areas who drive long distances and want to do so at higher speeds while maintaining good MPG’s. 
  • While not as effective at watersports as inboards, the sterndrive can offer those who want to do some wakeboarding or wakesurfing the ability to do so. When equipped with a forward drive, cruise control, and surf system, all types of watersports are available. We see this work great for couples who mainly cruise unless their kids are with them (a couple of times a summer) or have young kids not heavily involved in watersports yet.  
  • Sterndrives are great for day boating offering ample storage, different interior layouts, and many coming with bathroom facilities can make spending a full day on the water more enjoyable.

Sterndrives are great boats for clients looking for a smooth ride, fast cruise speeds at lower MPG’s, and who may (or whose family may) want to spend some time wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and waterskiing, but that is not their primary focus. If you are interested in sterndrives and watersports, it is good to opt for the forward drive.  

To learn more information about Inboards or Sterndrives with the capability to deliver wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, or waterskiing performance, visit your local Skier’s Marine. 

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