“In search of the perfect wave,” once the quest of ocean surfboarders has been commandeered by a new breed of water sports enthusiasts who are expected to flock to the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show to see the latest boat models that will deliver just what they crave.
Until recently, the typical water sports boat was designed to produce as little wake as possible while towing slalom skiers, wakeboarders and tubers around at 25 mph or so. And while those models are still very big on the market, the hottest sellers have become boats carefully designed to produce a big wake on which to ride a surfboard. And, if you think it’s just a trend enjoyed by, say, millennials, you’re wrong.
“Wakesurfing is actually appealing to aging water sports enthusiasts,” explains Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, “because it’s a lower impact sport in which the surfer is going only 10-11 mph, doesn’t have to hang on to a tow line, and when falls just drops into the water.”
At the boat show, visitors will get to explore wakesurfing models from many top builders who, along with building their traditional tow boats, are catering to the wakesurfers. For example, Buckeye Sports Center will be displaying the Malibu 23’ LSV named 2018’s Wakesurf Boat of the Year. Buckeye will also feature models like the Axis T22; the new Moomba Craz and Max 23; and the Super Air Nautique G23, dubbed the “Mecca” of wakeboats.
To create wakes, the boat manufacturers use systems that combine ballast tanks integrated into the hull and transom appendages similar to trim tabs but much bigger. It’s all designed to pull the stern down to create more wake. Depending on the model, for example, a MasterCraft XT23 with its Gen 2 Surf System displayed in the boat show by Boat House Marine, the boat can add as much as 4000 pounds to the stern. While some boats are powered by straight inboards, other like the Regal 2300 Surf offered by Portage Lakes Marine feature Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive sterndrive.
The sophistication of the newest water sports boats defies the imagination. The driver can sit down, punch in some info on the touch screens at the helm about the desired activity and the wakesurfer’s preferences, and off they go. Even the surfer can control which side of the wake he wants to ride and what being played on the stereo speakers with a touch on his wrist band!
Still even with all this sophistication, the water sports models still basically feature excellent passenger capacity, so lots of family and friends can be aboard whether towing kids on tubes or just taking a spin around the lake.
The boat show will include more than 400 power and sailboats this year, the largest edition in a decade. It will drop anchor in Cleveland’s I-X Center for 5 days, January 17-21. For more information, go to: www.clevelandboatshow.com