Wakeboarding is a great way to spend a day out on the water and can be fun for people of all experience levels. However, for the beginners who are just trying out the watersport for the first time, their first question is almost always the same: how fast does the boat go? This is a fair question to ask, as going too fast on a wakeboard can be intimidating for beginner riders.
Generally, a wakeboard boat’s top speed will be between 45 and 55 mph. However, wakeboard boats typically only travel at between 15mph and 25mph while they are towing a wakeboarder. Top speed of the boat will depend on the model.
As is true with all different types of boats, how fast a craft can travel is a function of its power output, it’s size and weight, and drag from water friction. However, because wakeboard boats are mostly all similar in design, the main thing that differentiates one’s speed from another’s is the engine size and power output. In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss how the top speeds of various wakeboard boats differ and what makes wakeboard boats and their pace different from other types of vessels.
How Fast Do Different Wakeboard Boats Go?
The following is a brief breakdown of examples of how fast popular wakeboard boat models typically go:
|Wakeboard Boat Model*
|1997 Correct Craft Sport Nautique
|1999 Mastercraft X-Star
|2004 Mastercraft X-Star
|2005 Malibu Wakesetter VLX
|2006 Malibu Wakesetter 247
|2007 Correct Craft Air Nautique 210
|2012 Correct Craft Super Air Nautique G23
*More about these models later in the article.
How is a Wakeboard Boat Different from Other Boats?
Before we get continue with a more detailed discussion of the speeds at which different wakeboard boats travel, it is first essential to understand what exactly a wakeboard boat is.
Wakeboard boats are characterized by the purpose which they are designed to serve; as the name would suggest, wakeboard boats are designed for towing a wakeboarder. They are engineered specifically to make wakeboarding behind them as good of an experience as it can be, and they offer distinct advantages over pulling a wakeboarder with other types of boats.
Wakeboard boats are better than “normal” vessels at towing wakeboarders, as they are designed to create large, clean wakes behind the boat. When wakeboarding, all but first-timers will prefer to have some more massive wakes to jump off of and perform tricks.
Wakeboard boats are specially designed to create these wakes and to give wakeboarders a water surface that is ideal for wakeboarding. They go about doing this as a function of various design features that are unique to wakeboard boats. According to Boat U.S., the below features are what differentiate wakeboard boats from other types of boats:
The size of the wake that a boat generates is almost exclusively a function of the amount of water that the vessel displaces. More specifically, the more water that a vessel displaces, the larger the wake that it makes will be.
This is why you often see tiny fishing boats traveling faster than larger boats, but creating less of a wake. This is because the larger boat is displacing far more water than the smaller boat, and thus creating a much larger wake.
The reason that the larger boat displaces more water is twofold. The most obvious reason is that the ship is larger, so it will, therefore, cover more surface area of water, which means more volume, which means more water that will be displaced.
However, the other factor, and the one that is most important to wakeboard boats, is the weight. The heavier that a vessel is, the further down into the water it will be pushed, and the more water it will displace.
So, to use weight’s ability to displace water to their advantage, wakeboard boats are equipped with a ballast in the rear. This ballast fills up with water, usually between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds worth, helping to weigh the boat down and displace more water, thus creating a more substantial and better wake.
The ballasts are typically filled and drained using two separate onboard pumps. They can either be integrated into the body of the boat, mounted visibly on the exterior, or composed of soft bags somewhere in the rear. Ballasts vary significantly in design and size, but they are all similar to each other in purpose.
Another factor that differentiates wakeboard boats from other types of water vessels is the design and shape of the hull. As mentioned above, the entire point of a wakeboard boat is to create large and crisp wakes and a water surface behind the boat that will be fun for the rider to ride on. Wakeboard boats have hulls that are specifically designed to do this.
The design of the hull and the way that it manipulates the water is different among each different make and model of wakeboard boats, with each manufacturer having their own unique designs.
However, while each design is unique, they all share a similar general design principle, according to Boat U.S.: a deep-V design with a hard keel forward, narrowing at the rear (aft) corners.
This general design is then altered by each manufacturer to differentiate themselves from each other. However, the purpose of the design, and the constant evolution of it, is the same among all different manufacturers: to create better wakes.
Another area wherein wakeboard boats are different from other sorts of vessels is the propulsion system that they use. Generally, wakeboard boats will use either a jet drive, forward drive, or V-drive, with the latter being the most common and around for the longest.
All these different propulsion systems work in different ways, but they all share one primary goal: to keep the propeller away from the wakeboarder. The reason for this is obvious: when a rider and propeller meet, the rider can get seriously injured.
Besides this one important safety reason, though, the propulsion system is also designed with the shape of the wake in mind. They are engineered and positioned within the boat in such a way that they will not create any undesirable wake characteristics, and they, in some instances, are designed to make the wake even better.
Additionally, wakeboard boats typically have a higher horsepower and torque output. This is because the vessels are artificially heavy as a result of that ballast, and the increased water displacement means that the boat creates quite a bit of resistance in the water.
This means that lots of power and torque are needed to get the boat up and moving, especially to a speed at which wakeboarding is not only possible but enjoyable.
7 Examples of How Fast Wakeboards Boats Can Go
So, now that we’ve gone over in detail exactly what makes a wakeboard boat different from other types of boats, we can start getting into a few examples of how fast wakeboard boats go. Boat top speeds depend on propulsion type, weight, load and hull design (Boating Valley.) As we know, this varies widely depending on the manufacturer and other things, and the below examples will make that clear.
As mentioned before, as a note, it is essential to know that the below-listed speeds are the top speeds of the boats, not the speed at which they travel while wakeboarding. The top speed is listed rather than the speed at which it travels while towing a wakeboarder because the latter is the same among all different wakeboard boats.
The boats listed below all come from Humanoid Wakeboard’s list of the top eight wakeboard boats of all time. So, this list will be fairly comprehensive as far as covering different styles of wakeboard boats.
1997 Correct Craft Sport Nautique: 50mph
The 1997 Correct Craft Sport Nautique is the first boat ever to have been explicitly marketed to tow a wakeboarder. It was designed with a unique hull shape, as well as extra power, helping to shape the wakeboard boat category to what it looks like today.
This boat is now more than twenty years old, but it still has enough power and a sleek enough design to reach up to around 50mph.
1999 Mastercraft X-Star: 47mph
The 1999 Mastercraft X-Star is unique in the fact that it helped to popularize the V-drive engine configuration. This engine placement helped to weigh down the rear of the boat, creating better wakes for the riders being towed.
This boat can reach a top speed of 47mph because of its powerful engine, especially considering the period in which this boat was sold.
2004 Mastercraft X-Star: 47mph
As you may have been able to guess, the 2004 Mastercraft X-Star is an improvement upon the already popular and successful 1999 X-Star. The 2004 X-Star is noteworthy for its introduction of a “pickle fork” hull design. This innovative design made way for a future of creative hull designs intended to perfect the wake behind the boat for riders.
The 2004 X-Star reaches the same top speed as its 1999 counterpart, 47mph. This is important to note because it shows that despite the two boats having vastly different hull designs, they are still able to reach the same top speed. This indicates that while the unique hulls have very different effects on the wake, they do not adversely affect the boat’s water-dynamics.
2005 Malibu Wakesetter VLX: 41mph
The 2005 Malibu Wakesetter is a fantastic all-around wakeboard boat. It has a large ballast that makes configuration a breeze, a unique backward tower, and a powerful engine. In tandem, all these features make the Wakesetter a well-rounded and excellent performing wakeboard boat.
The Malibu 2005 Wakesetter VLX can reach a top speed of 43mph, a reasonable rate for the time, and far more than enough to have a good time wakeboarding behind it.
2006 Malibu Wakesetter 247: 48mph
The 2006 Wakesetter 247 may share a similar name to the above-mentioned Wakesetter VLX, but it is a very different boat. The 247 is noteworthy mostly as a function of its size. It was one of the biggest wakeboard boats ever offered, with a capacity to hold up to 17 passengers. This also meant that it was heavy, and was, therefore, less agile than some competitors.
However, this also meant that it could generate some fantastic waves for the rider, and this was proven by some pros who even use this boat themselves.
The Wakesetter 247 can reach a top speed of 48 mph, an impressive number given the size and heft of this boat.
2007 Correct Craft Air Nautique 210: 38mph
The 2007 Correct Craft Air Nautique is noteworthy as a function of its improved hull design compared to previous Correct Craft models. However, this is noteworthy because the older hulls were already great, meaning an improvement upon them indicated an extraordinary design and some incredible wakes that are inevitably going to follow.
This is an all-around great midsize boat that is small enough to be light on its feet, though not so little to prevent it from being able to generate some great wakes.
The 2007 Correct Craft Air Nautique falls on the slower side compared to some of the other boats that we’ve mentioned, but experienced wakeboarders will know that this should never be a reason to write it off. This top speed is still well over what you’ll travel at while wakeboarding and is more than suitable for the purposes of this boat.
2012 Correct Craft Super Air Nautique G23: 39mph
This is a boat that generated quite a bit of excitement when it first came out, as a result of Correct Craft saying that they had something very special on the horizon before the boat’s release.
They weren’t lying, as the G23 lived up to all the buzz that preceded its release. What was unique about this boat is that its hull was entirely designed from scratch, whereas other wakeboard boats typically had a hull that used a waterskiing boat as a starting point. The result of this specially designed hull was the biggest wake that the sport had ever seen.
As a result of its purpose-built tow-focused design, the G23 reaches a top speed of 39mph, a relatively low number in comparison to other boats on this list. However, with the G23 being regarded as one of the best vessels out there for wakeboarding, this should serve as proof that top speed is not the most critical consideration for wakeboarding.
How Fast Do Wakeboard Boats Go While Towing?
How fast the boat can go with the throttle pegged open may be a fun figure to tell your friends about, but it is not a very important figure from a practical sense. This is because the top speeds that we mentioned above will never be reached while the boat is actually towing someone, which is what these types of vessels are meant to do. In fact, the speed at which the water vessel travels while towing is far less than the top speeds quoted above.
Typically, most boats will travel between 15mph and 25mph while towing a wakeboarder, according to EVO. The speed at which the boat travels while towing a rider is mostly a question of safety. Moving at 50mph on a wakeboard might be fun if you could pull it off, but it would be quite the spill when or if you fall at that speed.
Additionally, that would be far too fast to allow the wakeboarder to try to perform tricks and jumps. So, most wakeboarders agree that the optimal speed at which to travel is somewhere between 15mph and 25mph.
Another factor that may have a bearing on the speed at which the boat travels is how experienced the rider is. If the rider is very inexperienced or trying wakeboarding for the first time, the driver of the vessel should go at the lowest speed at which it is possible for them to stand up. This will likely be around 12mph to 15mph. Once the rider is comfortable at this speed, the driver can start speeding up.
At What Speed Do Pro Wakeboarders Ride?
The range mentioned above of 15-25mph is not just applicable to beginner and novice wakeboarders. In fact, most advanced and pro wakeboarders will not typically leave that range, and if they do, it’s not by a terribly large amount.
The fastest that you’ll typically see professional wakeboarders ride is around 30mph, with some reaching close to 35mph. This may come as a surprise, as many people expect professionals to go as fast as they possibly can, but wakeboarding is not all about speed. Instead, it is about performing tricks, which can be challenging to do when certain speeds are exceeded.
As you can see, most wakeboard boats can travel at top speed within a similar range. This is mostly a function of the boat’s power output, as well as the boat’s design and weight. However, these top speeds are not important figures to consider when you’re looking at the boat’s performance for wakeboarders, as riders will generally be traveling at far below these speeds.