For those who want to train like a full-time professional water skier but only have part-time cash, a used water ski boat might be your best option. Some of the classic hull designs from the last 20 years that were tested in our annual Boat Buyers Guide won’t necessarily match the performance of today’s hardcore tournament inboards, but they’ll get you close. Take a look at these pre-owned beauties and decide for yourself.
1993 Supra Comp TS6M
Similar model years: 1984-1999 | Used price: $6,000 depending on amount of restoration
Low-play, low-effort steering makes for great tracking in the slalom course with sports-car-like tight turns. Small, soft wakes are perfect for serious course skiing, especially at deep shortline. It handles well at trick speeds with hardly any change in its planing attitude, even at slower speeds. Quality materials and construction methods make this an extremely solid boat that will withstand hard skiing and still look good.
1994 MasterCraft ProStar 190
Similar model years: 1992-1995 | Used price: $8,000 to $16,000 or more
Good tracking qualities produce instant, precise response to directional corrections against a medium steering effort. There is a following of skiers and enthusiasts who love this hull and care for them like they are part of the family. Clean, flat wakes and very low hull-side spray. For the slalom purists, there are few boats, if any, better than the ProStar. This hull had very defined trick wakes yet crossed over well. The ProStar 190 is the type of boat ski schools love. It isn’t just a boat for world-class shortline skiers; it’s also a driver’s boat with a well-designed helm.
1999 Malibu Response LX
Similar model years: 1996-2002 | Used price: $8,000 to $18,000
Power packages were numerous and provided skiers with performance numbers that were off the charts. This boat had the ability to pull barefooters and jumpers alike. This boat has phenomenal low wakes for slalom and no bump at 22 off. Trick skiers find the wakes clean and the table smooth. For several years running, the Malibu Response LX has been one of our favorite all-around ski boats. This versatile open-bow tow boat has earned a reputation for delivering all-event versatility, high-end towing performance and high levels of customer satisfaction.
1997 Correct Craft Ski Nautique
Similar model years: 1997-2001 | Used price: $10,000 to $18,000
It’s an easy, non-jarring ride that makes the hours in the driver’s seat less tiresome. There is a big following for these boats. Many skiers still utilize these hulls for training. Some consider the “bubble back” Ski Nautique the best overall tournament boat ever designed. Kristi Overton set a world slalom record behind one in the model’s first year that has only recently been matched. Competitive skiers will salivate over the wake improvements, while skiers wanting the finest in engineering, quality and craftsmanship should give the boat series serious consideration.
1999 MB Sports Boss 190
Similar model years: 1997-2003 | Used price: $17,000 to $21,000 and MBs are mainly on the west coast
Power is plentiful. Tight, responsive handling and low-effort tracking offer an incredible world-class tournament drive. Low, soft wakes are equally as satisfying to the rookie skier as to the shortline slalom course ripper. This boat is world class across the board. Mike Brendel created one of the finest slalom boats ever built.
Restoration takes money, but remember when you’re paying $3,000 for upholstery and $8,000 to $10,000 for repower and other repairs, it’s still quite a bit less expensive than purchasing a $35,000 to $55,000 boat. A lot of boats can be rebuilt/restored for less than $20,000, including new speed controls used in tournaments today.
One of the biggest differences between the older ski boats and what is available today is drive-by-wire technology and the speed-control combination. Most older boats have cable-driven throttle controls, whereas the new Zero Off speed control requires a wireless throttle. For training, though, PerfectPass (or basic cruise control) can be added for a competitive pull.