How about a single inboard 23-footer that’s easy to maneuver dockside and creates excellent wakesurfing waves? Try Sea Ray’s SLX-W 230.
We put a novice boat handler at the helm for part of our test. Utilizing the optional Mercury Marine Joystick Piloting for Inboards (JPI), she docked the boat with ease in a breeze. JPI is intuitive: Bend the stick and that’s the way the boat moves, including sideways. The software coordinates bow and stern thrusters with the shifting of the engine’s gears.
Under the hatch, our tester concealed one of the first engines to come off the line in Mercury’s Towsports Inboard series. With power and torque characteristics optimized for low-speed operation and carrying ballast, this potent V-8 also delivered respectable cruising top speeds, though lower than one would net from a similar-size boat with a sterndrive or outboard of equivalent power. Possessing a deep-V hull form, the SLX-W 230 proved equivalent to most sterndrive- and outboard-powered craft when it came to ride quality through choppy water, as we proved in testing.
Working in concert, the SLX-W 230’s 2,000 pounds of ballast, Dynamic Running Surface bottom, and proprietary WakeTech wave-shaping tab system, all controlled through the Dynamic Display touchscreen, put up a wave that impressed our expert surfer, Emily Dale from sister publication Wakeboarding. Dale cited the wave for its power and called out the length of the wave as notable.
The SLX-W 230, by Sea Ray’s account, is a runabout that delivers wakesurfing excitement and safety by virtue of inboard power, not a purebred tow boat. The optional metal-flake, tri-tone styling says yacht club, not nightclub. Its interior boasts a subtle mix of color and texture, providing elegant, conservative-style luxury. Even the sports tower’s lower supports are shrouded in gelcoated fiberglass instead of exposed pipe work. The freeboard is higher than that of watersports boats, and the cockpit is deep; crew have an excellent view yet can sink in and out of the wind and weather. The JL Audio system kicks. This is a unique boat.
* Inboard power enhances safety for wakesurfing compared to outboard or sterndrive engines.
* Dynamic Display touchscreen makes wave shaping and setting rider profiles a breeze.
* Through-bolted hardware, neat and robust wiring, and vinylester resin point toward attention to detail and long-lasting quality.
* Inboard power draws more water and makes trailering more difficult than boats with outboard or sterndrive engines.
* Inboard power doesn’t attain the top speeds of similar boats with outboards or sterndrives of equivalent power.
* Deep-V hull rides smooth but creates a rougher wake than most slalom skiers will like.
You won’t find another inboard-powered, deep-V, luxury bowrider equipped with technology to enhance watersports. This boat is currently in a class by itself.
Price: $107,000 (base)
Available Power: Inboard
How We Tested
Engine: MerCruiser 6.2L 370 Towsports Inboard
Drive/Prop: V-drive/16″ x 181/4″ 4-blade Acme Nibral
Gear Ratio: 2.00:1
Fuel Load: 50 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
Ballast Tanks: Empty
Sea Ray Boats – Vonore, Tennessee; 423-884-6631; searay.com