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. 15 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 fulfill your every watersports need and desire.
Knowing full well that the market was saturated with high-priced tow boats, MasterCraft launched its new NXT20 tow boat, a full-featured tow boat that can be had for a price that reminds us of the days when grunge rock was in and flannel shirts were fashionable.
The NXT20 features a fresh design, with the same pickle-fork bow that looks great and affords so much space. So what you’re getting is a modern boat assembled with cost savings built in. There are no fancy electronics or doodads, so you’ll just have to kick it old school and rely on your driver. Base MSRP is $50,000.
To learn more, read our full NXT20 review.
See NXT20 listings.
|Fuel capacity||44 gal.|
The starting model in the Axis lineup, the A20 packs a lot of equipment into a simple package. You get a standard 350 horsepower engine—with options available up to 450 horsepower—and high-flow ballast pumps that fill in seconds. It also comes with wakeboarding and wake-surfing essentials developed over the years by parent company Malibu Boats. The power-operated Wedge wake-tuning hydrofoil and the Surf Gate systems are the same as those used on Malibu boats.
You don’t get the cutting-edge electronics and controls, but that’s not the point. The point is the A20 lets you get into an inboard designed to do what you want to do: shred behind the boat. Base price is around $55,000.
Read our review of the Axis A20.
See Axis A20 listings.
|Fuel capacity||42 gal.|
Moomba Outback V
Moomba Boats has long focused on offering more boat for less money and the Outback V is a perfect example. Priced at $49,000 in base trim, the Outback V is admittedly an older design. It was once an upper-tier model for Moomba, but as the market marched on, consumers began to demand more, even from price-conscious Moomba models.
Moomba makes the Mondo and Mojo for buyers who want the latest, but for more price conscientious buyers, the Outback V is the way to go. It comes standard with a wakeboarding tower and a 330 horsepower engine, but board racks are a $630 option. It’s not difficult to imagine most customers are going to want board racks, so they should be standard. But it’s still the least expensive boat in this roundup and that’s of value in itself.
Read more about the Moomba Outback V.
See Moomba Outback V listings.
|Fuel capacity||39 gal.|
The R20 not the newest boat in Tigé’s model line but it still looks as fresh as when it was. The V-drive R20 is styled as daringly as the newer models rolling out of its Abilene, Texas, factory today, and yet it’s priced around $58,000.
You want the pickle-fork design that is dominating the market? The R20 has that. It also comes standard with the Indmar Raptor 400 horsepower engine, the most potent powerplant among the affordable boats in this roundup. Its Alpha Z tower is a step up from competing boats and it has a walk-through transom with nonskid and stowage underneath. It’s the most expensive model we’re including here, so maybe those extra niceties are where that extra money went.
Learn more about the Tigé R20.
See current listings for the R20.
|Fuel capacity||38 gal.|
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 these used ski and wakeboard boats.