Among the ranks of popular oxymorons, “affordable wakeboarding boat,” is on par with others like “scientific consensus” or “unbiased opinion." An affordable tow boat is becoming a rare thing. Almost 20 years ago the market topped out at $50,000, and today it’s difficult to get into any full-bore wakeboard boat for that kind of money. But it is still possible. We’ve assembled a list of models that are currently on the market and are available for around $50,000—around being the operative word. Maybe one of these is within your budget, and will fulfil your every watersports need and desire.
MasterCraft broke new ground a few years back with its NXT20 and outboard-powered NXT20 Global Edition tow boats. They produced competent wakes and waves for a price that is uncommon in the tow-boat market. Now MasterCraft has added to its NXT line with the NXT22, which adds a couple of feet of lengthwithout sacrificing the affordability that portions of the now market demand.
The NXT22 weighs in at 4,200 pounds and comes with 2,140 pounds of water ballast with the Gen 2 system. The boat also comes with a standard manual folding tower and a surf system, which has surf tabs to either side and wake tuning plate at the center of the transom. The NXT22 also has a 4.3-inch display to the right of the steering wheel. The display is not a touch screen, which is where part of the savings come in. The ballast and surf systems are controlled by good, old fashioned manual rocker switches on the dash.
MasterCraft says the NXT22 comes surf ready for $70,860.
See NXT22 listings.
|Fuel capacity||49 gal.|
It would be impossible to have a discussion about affordable tow boats without mentioning Moomba— so we won’t. The company has made its name by building and selling tow boats that offer the wakes riders crave, the quality the market insists upon, all at prices that more closely resemble those of a new SUV rather than a new home.
The notable thing about the Helix is what it does come with rather than what it doesn’t come with. For example, it includes a standard sliding rear seas, so you can convert the rear bench to face the back of the boat, where the action is. It also comes with a dual access glove box, Moomba’s A3 tower a Wet Sounds, Bluetooth compatible stereo system.
For wakes, the Helix comes with a 400 horsepower Indmar Raptor engine, the Flow 2.0 surf system, which includes surf tabs to either side, a center wake plate and the 4,000-pound G3 ballast system. Base MSRP for the Moomba Helix is $60,180, making it the most affordable tow boat in this roundup.
Read our full review of the Moomba Helix.
See Moomba Helix listings.
|Fuel capacity||39 gal.|
Malibu’s value-oriented Axis line of tow boats started with the A22, and it’s still one of the company’s best sellers, and for good reason. The A22 gets updated for 2019 with new colors, luxurious materials and graphics, but it still comes with the equipment riders want. The Surf Gate, Suf Band and Power Wedge III provide a powerful combination of tools the driver can use to adjust wakes to the rider’s desire.
With a maximum ballast of 4,500 pounds on top of its 4,500-pound hull weight, the A22 creates a deep impression in the water to throw wakes and waves that inspire big tricks. At $66,500, it’s a bargain in the tow boat marketplace, the very niche the Axis Boat company was designed to fill.
Read on full review on the Axis A22.
See Axis A22 listings.
|Fuel capacity||48 gal.|
It wasn’t all that long ago that the features you find on the Tige R20 were the features you’d pay top dollar for in a high-end tow boat. Priced at $82,430, the Tigé R20 is one of the more well-equipped bargains in the tow-boat market.
In standard trim, which is where bargain shoppers live, the Tige R20 comes with Tige’s proprietary Convex V hull design, the TAPS 3 Surf System and an Alpha M2 tower. What sets the R20 apart from competitors in the affordable tow boat market is that it comes with Tige Touch2, an electronic display screen that also allows a driver to control some of the boat’s functions rather than just monitor them.
Learn more about the Tige R20 in 10 Best Tow Boats for Water Skiing and Wakeboarding.
See Tige R20 listings.
|Fuel capacity||38 gal.|
Supreme’s S211 delivers wakes and waves in a 21-foot package that includes the new Skylon S5 tower 750 pounds of standard ballast—with 1,850 pounds available as an option—and wake- and wave tuning plates at each side and the center.
Buyers also get a choice of two gelcoat schemes in 25 colors, including 12 metal flake finishes. The dashboard is fitted with analog speedo and tach and a digital display in the center with control buttons on the right side for adjusting wake settings.
Priced at $83,217 as shown, the Supreme S211 certainly makes a convincing argument for itself.
See Supreme S211 listings.
Bonus Model: Anything Used
Seriously, the tow boat market has become so pricey that often the best way to get an affordable wakeboard boat is to go used. The benefits are readily apparent. For one thing, you don’t have to shop for an “entry level” model that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that were available a few years ago. The technology available then is still reasonably current now—Moore’s Law doesn’t apply to tow boats. At least not yet.
By shopping for boats that are a few years old, you can look at models that were in the upper tier when they were new. You also avoid the bulk of the depreciation you’ll face when buying new. The downside is you likely won’t enjoy the benefits of a manufacturer’s warranty. However, you can always shop for an extended warranty on the secondary market. And, guess what? We have well over 1,000 used ski and wakeboard boats listed on boats.com, right now. Some are as inexpensive as $1,200 (though you may not be thrilled about a 1970 Chrysler), and some go well beyond our $50,000 price point. Wherever in that range your budget lies, chances are we have the right boat listed for you.
Check out all our wakeboarding boats listed on boats.com.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2015 and updated in January 2019.