Another important factor that you have to consider is width. “Length is a big deal, but width does more for functional space,” says Malibu national promo director Dennis Kelly. “A 93-inch boat was as wide as we made back when we used to do the 21.5. Now, they’re over 100 inches wide. Four or 5 inches in width is almost equal to 18 inches in length in terms of functional space that you can sit butts down in.” Essentially, a wider boat with a well-thought-out confi guration has more square footage than a skinnier boat of the same length; it’s as simple as that. The more room you have in your boat, the more room you have for gear and people, and the easier it is to have more people and more time on the water. MasterCraft, Supra, Moomba, Centurion and Malibu all have at least one boat with a beam of 102 inches.
Now let’s get down to the different size categories, starting with the extremes on either end. First off , the nimble, sporty boats in the 19- and 20-foot category: “The people who really need a 20-foot boat are people on size-restricted lakes, [people who] have long hauls ahead of them, or [those who] need to get their boat in their garage,” says Tigé’s director of design and marketing, Danny Gutierrez. “Anyone who wants a big product in a small package — that’s who needs a 20-footer.” If you meet any of these criteria, you may need to consider a smaller boat. If you’re a dedicated “buoyhead” or tournament three-event skier, you’re also going to need a smaller boat. There’s no substitute for a tournament-approved 19- to 20½-foot boat while in the course. As far as storage is concerned, most 20-foot boats will fit in a standard garage after you fold down the swim platform and tower, so if you’re planning on pulling your boat into and out of a garage often, make sure it has an efficient, easy system for folding down the platform and collapsing the tower. You should also consider the difference in fuel economy if you’re regularly trailering your boat great distances to get to your favorite waterway.