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The Best Wake Boat Brands For The Money

Wakeboarding and wakesurfing continue to gain popularity, and long gone are the days when any powerboat with an engine would do for serious boarders and surfers. Today’s best wake boat brands work hard to design their boats with extreme precision so they create the perfect wakes and can even shape them to the taste of individual riders. These are not at all like straightforward bowriders, which may be perfectly fine for towing inflatables; these are carefully crafted performance boats designed for very specific purposes. 

Wake boats don’t come cheap, with most having price tags over $100,000. Larger and high-end models can easily reach prices of several hundred thousand dollars. So, buying a wake boat is a big financial decision (see our guide to marine financing for more advice on spreading the cost). In this article we take a look at some of the best wake boat brands on the market offering good value for the money.  


wakeboard boat lake


What Makes a Good Wake Boat?

What is the difference between a wake boat and a runabout or ski boat? At first glance, it might appear that there’s very little difference, and manufacturers do make some models more versatile than others (see our guide to the best fish and ski boats). Indeed, you can successfully wakeboard or surf off any watersports boat, or many small powerboats for that matter (check out the range of new and used ski and watersports boats for sale on Rightboat). For serious wakeboarding and wakesurfing, however, there are some benefits that only a true, specially designed wake boat can provide. 


  • Creating the perfect wake

Wake boats are finely tuned machines, and their key quality is their ability to create a large wake that’s perfect for boarding and surfing, and can be customized for individual riders. This happens through a combination of an adjustable ballast system, specially designed tabs and plates, a carefully crafted hull shape, and a powerful engine.

  • A strong tower

An easily identifiable feature is the tower that arches over the boat. The tower raises the pulling position of the tow rope used by boarders, which allows them to pull themselves into the air and perform higher jumps. It also makes it easier for surfers to get up out of the water before pitching the rope and surfing the wakes. The towers usually have equipment storage racks attached to them to maximize space aboard, and booming stereo speakers facing aft so riders can rock out as they perform tricks. 

  • A swim platform

Wake boats will have a swim platform allowing the wakeboarder to enter and exit the water quickly and safely. It’s also a great addition for any family boat. 

  • A compact size

In general, wake boats are between 18 and 25 feet; their smaller size allows them to be trailered from lake to lake.


Supreme wakeboard boat

Photo credit: Supreme Boats


Small And Mid-Size Wake Boat Brands

At the smaller end of the size range, boats between 18 and 20 feet offer easier ownership thanks to their relatively lower cost, compact size, easy ability to be towed on a trailer by almost any car, and easy storage. They are great beginner boats and popular lake boats. Going up slightly in size, the most popular wake boats are around 21 to 22 feet in length. These offer a better ability to cope with choppy water conditions and are often the preferred size for those living near very large reservoirs or saltwater bays. They are still small enough to be able to store easily, and you don’t necessarily have to upgrade the engine size, so they offer good value for money. 


  • Sleek and stylish

Centurion’s range of mid-sized wake boats are sporty and sleek-looking with lots of customization options to create the look you want; there are dozens of choices for hull base, hull front, and accent gel coats,  But these boat aren’t just a pretty package; Centurions have triangular hull pads designed to make symmetrical wakes, enhanced ballast capacities with the ability to fill ballast while underway, and a touchscreen control at the dash that allows you to manipulate and shape the wake even with a surfer in the water.


Centurion Boats for Sale


  • Elite performance

Nautique is a big name in this segment, and their range of wake boats is impressive. The smallest models in their lineup offer all of the technology and luxury styling of their bigger cousins, but in a compact package. Wakeboarders can choose a completely customizable wave based on ability or preference, which they can control from the water via a Garmin watch. Nautique boats also offer fantastic performance in rough water, thanks to ballast tanks integrated into the stringers to boost hull strength.


Nautique Boats for Sale


  • Great used, high-end wake boats

Malibu boats, and in particular their Wakesetter range of wake boats, is one of the best in the sector from comfort to convenience, luxury to technology. But all this doesn’t come cheap, and these are some seriously luxurious boats with a top-end price tag. However, their durability makes them excellent choices on the used market, and you can pick up a nearly new Wakesetter with a big chunk of the depreciation already chopped off it for a fraction of the price of a new one.


Malibu Wakesetters Boats for Sale


Nautique wakboard boat

Photo credit: Nautique Boats


Family Wake Boat Brands

Buying a wake boat isn’t cheap, and while hardcore boarders and surfers will be interested only in the boat’s performance as a tow vessel, families wanting to get out on the water for the day when watersports aren’t in the plan will be looking for a boat that’s more versatile. With wide swim platforms, plenty of comfortable seating, lots of clever storage, that tower for towing all manner of water toys, and in some cases even a head compartment inside the passenger’s console, many of the wake boats out there are suitable for all-around family use.


  • Fun and versatile 

Four Winns builds more runabouts and bowriders than wake boats, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they seem to intuitively know exactly what makes the perfect family wake boats. While their boats might not be tournament-level and are powered by Forward Drive stern drives as opposed to inboards, they’re great tow boats designed for fun and versatility. Perfect for beginners, their 22-foot model is compact, comfortable, able to accommodate up to 10 people, and offers excellent value for the money. 


Four Winns Boats for Sale


  • Comfort to the Max

Chaparral builds an extensive line of runabouts and cruisers, so they know what families like. And when it comes to their wake boat lineup, which features Forward Drive stern drives, they maintain a family-friendly attitude. They also build some models that are outrageously large for wake boats, including 28’0” and 30’2” models, which have the room to take out the whole family and then some for a day of surfing or cruising.


Chaparral Boats for Sale


  • Great for Beginners

Yamaha’s Wake Series brings something a bit different to the table with a combination of a Jetboat and a wake boat. Ranging from 22 feet up to an impressive 25-foot model, these boats run on Yamaha 1.8L supercharged waterjet pumps, offering jaw-dropping maneuverability without a prop (making them perfect for new boaters nervous about having the kids around a propeller). You get the maneuverability and adrenaline of a jet boat, but with a great wave off the back for wakeboarding and surfing thanks to the integrated Yamaha Wake Enhancer. 


Yamaha Boats for Sale


Four Winns wake boat

Photo credit: Four Winns


Value Wake Boat Brands

Value for money is a hard criteria to narrow down, but here we take a look at some of the best wake boat brands that make good sense from an economic view. 


  • Great for beginners

Heyday’s whole ethos is to build quality wake boats at extremely competitive prices, while still delivering top wake boat performance. They’re sleek and stylish (and instantly recognizable with their square bows), have tons of ballast, and produce a thick, smooth wave. But on board is just as impressive, with the stern’s Heyday Hangout Zone creating a customizable seating area. With just four models in their line-up, Heyday wake boats start at around $67,000. 


HeyDay Boats for Sale


  • Impressive technology

Moomba have been creating watersports boats for almost two decades and has racked up a lot of awards during that time. But they haven’t let their success go to their heads, keeping their base prices refreshingly competitive (between $94,000 and $118,000). Their lineup ranges from a 20-foot pocket rocket up to a luxurious 24-footer, and there are several mid-sized models in-between. You get a huge amount of tech for your money, from the patented Flow Surf System, to the Indmar Raptor engine. 


Moomba Boats for Sale


  • Outstanding reputation

Mastercraft has been producing some of the best watersports boats in the industry for over 50 years, and their range of pro-level XStar wake boats is top of the line. Are they cheap? No. In fact, they’re among the most expensive wake boats out there. But what makes them a savvy investment (at least, as far as “investing” in a boat goes) is their resale value. Market demand for these boats is nearly always strong, and on the used market they command top dollar. So even though the initial layout may be high, more of that money comes back to you in the long run and this is actually one of the best wake boats for the dollar.


Mastercraft Boats for Sale


HeyDay affordable wake boat

Photo credit: HeyDay


Freshwater Versus Saltwater Wake Boat Brands

While there are outliers, for the most part the major manufacturers of wake boats build to specifications necessary for saltwater use, so they can be used in either fresh or saltwater environments. However, if you’re planning to use a wake boat in saltwater all or most of the time you should be sure it has features like a closed cooling system, the proper zinc anodes, and stainless-steel hardware. Either way, you’ll extend the lifespan of your wake boat if you give it a thorough washdown and freshwater flush after use in saltwater. 

Whichever wake boat brand you might choose and wherever you may use it, one thing is for sure: once you find the right boat for you and your family, life is about to become a whole lot more fun.


Best Wake Boat Brands

For boats with such a niche use, the wake boat market is surprisingly competitive. Technology changes quickly as improved hull shapes, more advanced ballast systems, and digital controls help create ever more perfect waves. When it comes to buying new and used wake boats that offer value for money, some top brands to look at include:



Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson

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