Flagships represent the best every wakeboard boat brand has to offer, from premier wakes to the latest and greatest features. But best doesn’t always mean best for you. Sure, the flagships tow the world’s top pros to Moves of the Year at TransWorld WAKEBOARDING‘s Wake Awards, but when is the last time you tried a toeside backside 900 or a wrapped melon backside 1080? While we all strive for the best wakeboard boat, maybe it’s the next-best that actually suits our needs. After all, why else would boat manufacturers make multiple models? We took a close look at the second-best wakeboard boats from Axis, Malibu, MasterCraft, Moomba, Supra and Tigé. What did we learn? Second-best is still really sick.
Compact and Core
With its hard-edged style and utilitarian design, the flagship Axis A22 is the perfect wakeboard boat for Randall Harris‘ hard-charging, no-nonsense brand of wakeboarding. The all-new Axis A20 takes the A22’s no-frills, function-first design and downsizes it into a compact, easy-to-handle footprint. The two wakeboard boats share a lot more than looks. In fact, the Axis A20 comes straight from the factory with the same standout standard features as the A22, including the FatAX tower, twin-tip bow and hard-tank ballast system. Opt for the Axis A20 and you’ll sacrifice space — it seats four fewer than the A22’s 15-person capacity — but you’ll gain mobility. The A20’s exactly 20-foot length makes it easier to trailer, drive and store than the 22-foot-long A22.
Next-Best of Both Worlds
Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV
The Malibu Wakesetter VLX isn’t the biggest boat in Malibu’s line — the massive, all-new Malibu Wakesetter 247 LSV earns that distinction — but it boasts the better wake. After all, it has towed Wakestock, the world’s biggest wakeboarding and music festival, for years, and it’s the boat of choice for Phillip Soven and Dallas Friday, two of the sport’s most decorated riders. The Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV combines the second-best of both worlds. Preferred by Malibu team riders Chad Sharpe and Brian Grubb, the Wakesetter 23 LSV’s wake is second only to that of the Wakesetter VLX, and its 23-foot length is as large as every model except the Wakestter 247 LSV. There’s nothing next-best about its list of features, however. In fact, the 23 LSV sports the same stellar standards as both the VLX and the 247 LSV, including the all-new Malibu Touch Command, hard-tank ballast system and easy-to-fold Illusion G3 tower with spinning board racks.
The MasterCraft X-Star is the undisputed king of the MasterCraft Boats line. Not in terms of size, of course — the X-35, X-45, X-55 and X-80 all dwarf it — but as the official tow boat of the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour and the boat of choice for riders like Rusty Malinoski and Parks Bonifay, it’s unmatched in terms of pedigree. While the MasterCraft X-25’s wake is second only to the X-Star in the MasterCraft line, it actually surpasses the X-Star in a couple of categories. Take the wakesurf wake for starters — the MasterCraft X-25 boasts the best wave of any MasterCraft. Although the X-25 is shorter, it actually offers far more space than the X-Star, including room for 16 passengers — the X-Star seats 12 — and storage capacity that rivals that of the larger X-35 and X-45.
Moomba Mobius LSV
While the flagship Moomba Mobius XLV has the pedigree of towing the Gravity Games and is the biggest boat in the Moomba Boats line, the Moomba Mobius LSV is the company’s all-time best-seller. Why? Well, the Mobius LSV’s 21-foot 6-inch length and 97-inch beam make it easy to trailer, simple to store and fun to drive, and it comes standard with a tower and a 400-pound ballast system for about $40,000. Plus, you can max it out with all the same features as the Mobius XLV, including the new V2 tower with spring-assisted fold-down. World-class coach Kyle Schmidt doesn’t think the LSV is next-best at all. In fact, Schmidt rides and instructs behind the LSV every day because the LSV’s wake is easy to adapt for any level rider. Easily approachable even for beginners, its mellow shape ramps up to advanced levels when you add on extra weight.
Unofficial Worlds Tow Boat
Supra Launch 22V
As the official tow boat of the World Wakeboard Championships, the Supra Launch 242 was designed to loft the world’s top riders to elite-level tricks. But Supra’s all-new flagship’s duties begin and end at the pro divisions. In fact, the Supra Launch 22V does much of the heavy lifting, towing all the amateur divisions at the year’s largest contest, which means it pulls everyone from kids to veterans. So while the Launch 242’s wakes are the best in the Supra line, the Launch 22V’s are the most universal. The 22V falls short of the sprawling 242’s 17-person capacity, but it still boasts room for an impressive 15 people. It also features many of the same standard features as its larger sibling, including the brilliant Vision system, height-adjustable driver’s seat and new Progressive tower.
The Tige RZ4‘s razor-sharp styling and progressive performance paces Tige’s flagship RZ series, but the Tige RZ2 is just 2 feet behind. After all, the Tige RZ2 sports the same cutting-edge design and wide-open bow as the Tige RZ4, and it boasts the same standard features as its big brother, including the iPadlike control of TigéTouch. The RZ4 and RZ2 are so similar, in fact, that a choice between the two simply comes down to size. While most riders will be satisfied with the RZ2’s seating and storage for 15, those with extra-large families or crews will find additional comfort in the RZ4’s two extra seats and expanded storage.