Over the years as wakeboarding has grown and gotten bigger, so too have the boats. Some boats started getting so big that many people who wakeboarded wondered why. Dig a little deeper into these bigger boats (and by “bigger” we are referring to boats 24 feet and longer) and it’s easy to find the answers. The most obvious is the one centered on the mantra of being on a boat in the first place: The more the merrier. The greatest aspect of all wake sports is the social one. Nothing beats being on the water with family and friends, enjoying time together and riding behind the boat (along with chilling in it). The big boats on the market today bring that social aspect to new levels. While in recent years there has been an influx of sub-21-foot boats, there is more than just something to be said for the bigger vessels at the other end of the spectrum.
The obvious benefit to a larger boat is the added space. When you first step into one of these big boats, you immediately notice the difference. They feel much larger — there is breathing room. The 2-foot difference between Malibu’s 23 LSV and 25 LSV might not seem like much on paper, but in person, it’s a lot. More length means more room for more friends and family. Why limit yourself to just nine or 10 friends when you could bring 17 or 18? And a dog or two?
“While the Supra SA is an incredible wake, I really like having the extra room of the SE,” says longtime Supra team member Trevor Hansen. “For what I use my boat for now, where I do both a lot of coaching and also a lot of time with family and friends on the water, having the size of the SE is perfect. The wake is still top-level, the wakesurf wave is a ton of fun and totally customizable, and I can invite a bunch of friends with their kids over, and there is more than enough room for everybody. I really couldn’t do that with another boat.”
Many of today’s top boats also have customizable seating arrangements. The Supra SE, Malibu 25 LSV, Centurion Ri257 and Nautique G25 all have reversible rear seating, so passengers can face the action on the water with comfort and ease. All the big boats also have pop-up seat backs on the sides, which add to the options and comfort of both relaxing or watching somebody ride.
More room for people also means more room for storage and gear. The big boats from each of the manufacturers offer tons of storage — like you can fit people into some of the lockers type of storage. From wakeboards to bigger wakesurfers to all the vests, ropes, buoys, bags, towels, clothes and whatever else you might need, they can all be stored away without a problem. Worried about keeping food or drinks cool? Don’t be. All the big boats have built-in big coolers too.
The 24-plus-foot boats weigh more than their smaller siblings, especially if you’re comparing a 20- or 21-foot model to a 25-foot model. More weight means more water displacement, which means bigger wakes and waves. Add in some internal ballast systems and all those friends, and you’re set to have a big ol’ blast with your big, water-moving machine.
“For a long time, the 22- or 23-foot boats were the go-to for serious wakeboarding, so initially I was hesitant about a bigger boat because I didn’t know if it would be as good,” says Jeff Langley, a Malibu team rider with a 25 LSV. “But after having my 25 LSV, I’ll never go back.” Langley has found the wakes and waves to be just as big and fun as with any other boat, and he has his dialed perfectly to his liking. “The waves are definitely bigger with the bigger boat, and the wakeboard wake is awesome. It’s more than any normal or advanced wakeboarder would ever need. I love my boat — having room for everybody is awesome, especially Carl (Jimmy Lariche’s yellow Lab, who often finds himself on Langley’s boat). Carl has probably logged about 650 of the 700 hours on my boat!”
Tony Carroll shares a similar sentiment in regard to his Axis A24. “I love bringing as many friends out as possible, and with my A24, I can fit 17 while also getting one of the best wakes and waves in the sport,” he says.
Most of today’s wakeboats are decked out with great features that do a lot to enhance your time on the water. Some of the bigger boats have these built in from the get-go. A bigger boat is going to be more expensive to begin with, naturally, so it wouldn’t make sense to build one and outfit it with the cheapest interior comforts and accessories. While some of the big boats have base models that can be upgraded, several of them also come heavily loaded with premium features. Regardless, when you step into one of today’s big wakeboats, you not only immediately feel the size and space but also the comfort as well.
While no wakeboard boat is designed to specifically handle the rougher conditions of larger, open bodies of water, the boats at the bigger end of the spectrum can handle chop better. By no means are we suggesting you take your wakeboat out for a whale-watching cruise in the Pacific, but if you happen to live on or frequent a larger body of water, like Lake Tahoe in California or Flathead Lake in Montana, the larger wakeboats can handle some of those open-water conditions a bit more comfortably. For years, Centurion used Lake Tahoe as the backdrop for its marketing shoots, and the Ri257 is built to ride better in rougher conditions. Ultimately, as is the case anytime you’re out on your boat, it is about knowing the body of water you’re on, the weather, and the limits of what you and your boat can manage.
Of course, to navigate bigger bodies of water you also need more gas, and the boats seen in this article can all hold at least 70 gallons. That should be plenty when it comes to cruising around, jumping wakes, riding endless waves or whatever else it is you want when out on the lake with your friends.
Ultimately, whether or not a bigger wakeboat is for you comes down to your specific situation and needs, but the advantages are there. From Axis to Centurion to Malibu to Nautique and Supra, each manufacturer has put an emphasis on offering the best that all of their wakeboats have, only in a bigger package that allows you to do what you love with more people. It goes to show that sometimes bigger really can be better. The fun that comes with being on the water is only enhanced when you can add more friends, family and activities to the mix. Big boats allow you to do that and do it unbelievably well. We think Centurion might have put it best in its marketing campaign: “Go big. Don’t go home.”