Good news is, you don't have to buy a new boat to be a better skier. It's true that few recreational boats deliver the kind of pull that a horsepower-laden inboard behemoth does. But there are three little upgrades that can take your boat closer to the "real" ski-boat level — all for about $270.
Eyes in Back of Your Head
Perhaps the simplest step into the ski-boat realm is a real water-sports mirror, one that mounts on the windshield, within the driver's sightlines. Don't skimp on the size or the quality of the glass. If you can't make out the color of your eyes when looking directly into it, there's no chance you'll see a hand signal from 60 feet away. Want one on your boat by the end of the week? Go to attwoodmarine.com. Cost: $40 and up.
Get Up and Go
Take this quiz: During the past two summers, has your prop a) hit the street as you've pulled into the driveway, b) churned up mud as you idled home or c) bumped a log on a straightaway run? If so, a lower-pitched replacement could pick your skiers out of the water faster than you can say, "I'm swallowing a lot of water back here, Dad!" Remember, acceleration is more important than top speed when towing, so choose a prop about two inches shorter in pitch, but be sure your engine's RPMs remain below redline at wide-open throttle. Check out the prop shopper at overtons.com/props. Cost: $100 and up.
One of the keys to clearing the wakes on a wakeboard is to create ramps that are perfectly shaped on both sides of the boat. Too overdeveloped on one side, and your board will catch. Too underdeveloped, and you've got nothing to lift the board off the wake. So what's a boater on a budget to do? Balance the weight in the boat by making sure that thick and thin folks are evenly distributed. By putting some of the weight up front, you'll keep the bow down during those low, 20 mph type speeds needed for riding. Pro riders have been known to use cinder blocks for added portable weight, but a cleaner solution is to try a ballast bag. Find a variety of Fat Sacs at overtons.com. Cost: $130.