The tow boat industry is attractive, and not just to consumers, it’s also attractive to those on the manufacturing side of things who either add a model line to their existing portfolio or start a new tow boat company altogether. But it hasn’t always worked out so well for those manufacturers, which is why the new Wake Tractor WT-1 is an exciting prospect. First, it’s being introduced by Bryant Boats, which is headed by John Dorton, who presided over MasterCraft for more than a decade. Anyone who has ever set foot on a Bryant boat knows of the company’s fastidious attention to detail and impeccable build quality. Two, the Wake Tractor brand is headed by Dorton’s son, Ben, a professional wakeboarder who designed the boat with input from the target market. The WT-1 uses a 5.7-liter Crusader engine, which is part of the PleasureCraft Marine Engine group, a subsidiary of Correct Craft, which manufactures the Nautique brand of ski and wakeboarding boats.
As you can see, the depth and breadth of experience behind the new brand is significant. That improves the chances of this new brand and model making it in the marketplace. The price also is meaningful in how this boat will be marketed. With a trailer, tower, Bimini top, speed control, ballast system, and music system, the WT-1 is slated to retail for $39,995. That’s huge news in a marketplace where $100,000-plus boats are somewhat common.
Wake Tractor’s tagline, “Not every rider has a millionaire daddy,” is a big part of the company’s marketing push. Aimed at the millennials who grew up behind boats that cost as much as an upscale Mercedes-Benz, the WT-1 was designed to accommodate the budgets of a generation that came of age during the Great Recession.
“The wake industry was built around the millennial segment starting in the late 90s, and today they are independent young adults who still love wake sports,” John Dorton said. “They like value, simplicity, and hassle-free ownership.”
To keep costs low, the Wake Tractor does things a bit differently than other tow boats. For starters, it’s 18’ long. The industry has been trending larger and larger. According to Dorton, the WT-1 hull “footprint” is the same as that of a 21-footer, and the boat comes with twin 800-pound ballast tanks, so it can still crank out the big wakes that boarders crave.
The boat also looks markedly different from other models on the market, what with its central helm and multiple seating configurations. The design is so different because its source is unlike any other boat builder. Professor of industrial design Andrew Hanzel, at at Lawrence Technological University, assigned his class of 19- to 24-year-olds to design a boat that appealed to them. The original concept was quite different, as is the finished product.
The boat also makes groundbreaking use of technology. For example, the Wi-Fi-based boat will be driven off a tablet, which will display all the engine and boat vitals. The tablet also will connect to the stereo system and an action camera that lets owners share the days wakeboard sessions via social media.
Details are still scant right now. But rest assured, we’ll follow the story behind the new Wake Tractor WT-1 as it develops and present it in future installments.
Editor's Note: This is not the only big news from Bryant Boats, which has been rolling out a slew of new models lately. See our video reviews of these other all-new models:
The Bryant Calandra
The Bryant Sperenza
The Bryant Potenza
The Bryant 233X Surf
Visit Bryant Boats for more information, or see new Bryant listings.