If shortline skiing is your first love, then you should already be at least a little familiar with the Ski Nautique 196. Correct Craft calls it “the heart and soul of water skiing,” and since it’s one of the most hard-core ski boats in our tests, they might be exactly right.
Everything about this nimble direct-drive classic — from the closed bow to the buttery soft wakes — is suited to the most advanced skiers. And the Hydro-Gate adjustable plate caters to three-event skiers too. With new styling lines for 2006 and retro hull graphics, the Ski Nautique 196 has got even more heart and soul to satisfy the water-ski junkies of the world.
We always look forward to the day we get to test the Ski Nautique 196. The wakes behind this boat have always been world-class, and this year they’re even better. The redesigned hull provides a new level of three-event versatility by opening a little wider the door to trick skiing. It also takes an already near-perfect slalom wake and makes it a little cleaner and perhaps even softer. By removing the lifting strakes from the TCM2 hull, Correct Craft created this TCM3 and got one step closer to the ideal wake. As in the past, we enjoyed this boat’s buttery soft wakes at all line lengths, with nonexistent shortline spray and virtually no bump. It’s a lot of talk, but this is one boat we’re confident will live up to the hype.
If the wakes behind the 196 don’t blow you away right off the bat, the superb handling probably will. In fact, ask our testers what’s most impressive about this all-star ski boat, and they’ll launch into a lengthy description of the solid handling. Needless to say, this boat aces our handling test every year, and this year it passed again with flying colors. As usual, the tracking was dead on, so you can count on the 196 to be laser-locked into the course. The hole shot is equally impressive, with the boat reaching 36 mph in just over five seconds.
Everything about the Ski Nautique 196, from the low-slung rear seating to the closed bow, is designed specifically for small-group ski sets. You will find enough storage space for your skis, but this boat works best for early morning sets with just you and a couple of your ski partners. Even the styling is a reflection of the boat’s hard-core skiing spirit, especially since Correct Craft revamped the graphics and lines with a distinctly retro feel. And for a ski boat, it’s comfortable. Our testers noted the exceptional recline of the observer’s seat and admired the way Correct Craft set up the helm for the driver with easy-to-read gauges and a cushy seat. Riding in the 196 with all its water-ski flavor and flair, it would be hard not to feel inspired to beat your personal best.
Base price: $44,152
Length: 19 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 91 in.
Seating capacity: 6
Fuel capacity: 29 gal.
Test Prop: Acme 12.5 x 15.5 4-blade
Test Engine: PCM Excalibur 5.7L, 330 hp
Top Speed: 46.3 mph 5,100 rpm
Accel. To 30 mph: 3.8 sec. 90.5 ft.
Accel. To 36 mph: 5.1 sec. 151.2 ft.
Noise Levels (db): Neutral 61 D 62 R, 36 mph 88 D 93 R