MasterCraft X-7

With its bulky tower, clean core graphics and rear ballast setup, this direct-drive is the perfect way for the pleasure-cruising family to get into wakeboarding. Less than 20 feet long, the X-7 is a nimble multisport performer with standout handling that's best suited to calm conditions. Yet despite the X-7's compact proportions, MasterCraft has squeezed every centimeter of space out of the interior, stretching the observer's seat all the way to the comfortable driver's seat and engineering a convertible rear bench that's perfect for a day of lounging and rider watching.

HULL: MasterCraft realizes that not everybody on the lake needs the pro-level wakes of an X-Star. After all, everybody has to start somewhere, and the recreational-size wake churned up by this multisport direct-drive is the perfect starting line for eager kids and newbie riders. Plus, thanks to MasterCraft's high-quality construction, you can rest assured that the X-7's reliable tracking and turning will stay true for years to come.

BALLAST: The standard 450-pound rear bag helps this direct-drive churn up firm, nicely shaped wakes that are great for recreational-level moves and downright welcoming for beginners.

TOWER: The ZeroFlex is as aptly named a tower as there is. Its wake-specific design makes it unflinchingly stoic through rollers and double-ups. The standard tight-clamping board racks swivel in and out of the boat, so retrieving and stowing your board is a snap. Bonus: The tower's swooping design will make you the envy of the lake.

Wakes behind the X-7 are on the smaller side, which is to be expected from a boat this size. What we didn't expect were the nicely shaped ramps that give plenty of hang time to beginner and intermediate riders when the standard rear ballast is full.