However, not everyone is a slalom addict, and at the opposite end of the spectrum are the wake giants, who want as much time in the air as possible for bigger and techier tricks, and the biggest swell possible for wakesurfing. “This is someone that buys into the bigger-is-better philosophy,” says Greg Meloon, Nautique’s vice president of marketing. “Size is much more than a boat’s length. The customer should evaluate how the boat rides and handles in the conditions they typically encounter. Not all boats are measured equally; the customer needs to compare boats based on the interior space their typical crew requires.” This means making sure your 23- to 24-foot boat can still pull double-ups at the end of your lake, like Nautique’s 23-foot wake monster, the Air Nautique 230, does every day at OWC (Orlando Watersports Complex). Larger boats need to strike a balance among desirable traits: throwing out as large and clean a swell as possible, having the maneuverability demanded by today’s top-level riders and retaining some fuel economy.
So, if 19 feet is the magic number for a flat, soft ski wake and 24 feet is the pinnacle of wakeboard performance, then why not go with a 17-foot boat for an even smaller wake and a 28-foot boat for the biggest wake the industry’s ever seen? Well, like most things related to boat size, there’s more to it than meets the eye. For example, on the smaller side of things, you really can’t go much shorter than 19 feet and still fit a driver, spotter and a motor in a package you’re not going to yank out of the course as you pull out of the gates. There simply just isn’t enough volume. And for larger wakeboard boats, the problem is in taming the wake. For years, MasterCraft’s flagship wake machine, the X-Star, has been 22.5 feet. Why not 24 feet? Well, it had a consistent, proven hull that made a great wake time and time again. So, when the X-Star was moved up to a 24-footer, it was only after years of testing and approval from MasterCraft’s team of riders that the hull was finally unveiled.
At 22 feet 3 inches, the X-Star had a sweet spot of consistency and feel that needed to be matched exactly on the new X-Star, and, with twice the ballast and a bigger hull, you’d better believe the wake is bigger. “Essentially, you want big, but you still want it to handle like a small boat,” Shave says. Gutierrez notes some other concerns. “As the boats get wider, you need to have a permit. [The limit in most states is 102 inches.] As the boats get longer, there’s more to haul and they have to have bigger slips. It jumps into a whole new realm that our consumers don’t generally prefer.”