For most of us, spending time enjoying watersports on your family boat is a rite of passage. Most boaters at some point enjoy skiing, wakeboarding, tubing or even surfing behind the transom. Thankfully, you can enjoy these sports behind boats that aren’t specific to the task. In the last few decades, multipurpose family boats have come a long way in the towing game with multiple features that enhance watersports, such as solid tow pylons, wakeboard towers, GPS speedometers, speed control, ballast for wakeboarding and wakesurfing, specialized sterndrives, and wake-shaping devices for wakesurfing. The sterns are designed with swim platforms for ease of putting on skis or a board and making it convenient to get in and out of the water.
These features are in boats with various propulsion types, including outboard, jet, sterndrives, and forward-facing sterndrives that place the propeller on the front of the lower unit so you can wakesurf behind a family boat with greater safety.
Here are six great family-oriented tow boats for 2023.
- Regal LS2 Surf
- Four Winns H2 OB
- Chaparral 23 SSi
- Yamaha 222XD
- Scout 195 Dorado Sport
- Avalon Waketoon
Regal LS2 Surf
The Regal LS2 Surf combines runabout performance and features with tow-sports versatility. The LS2 Surf is based on the LS2 ($95,755 with a conventional 280 hp DP drive). It features a Volvo Penta Forward Drive, which is safer for wakesurfing and great for tubing, wakeboarding, water-skiing, kneeboarding and barefoot water-skiing.
Regal includes a variety of features to enhance the tow-sports experience. The helm features two 7-inch touchscreen displays that provide information such as GPS speed and water depth. The driver can set the acceleration, desired speed and wake characteristics for each individual rider. Steering and throttle movement prove smooth and easy, providing a better tow-sports experience for the driver and the person in tow.
For wakeboarding and wakesurfing, the LS2 allows up to 1,800 pounds of ballast, strategically positioned below the deck, with two ballast bladders located at the stern and one amidships. This allows the hull to ride deeper to create a bigger wake. Surf plates mounted at the transom adjust electronically from the helm to shape the perfect surf wave.
The higher tow point of the LS2 wakeboard tower gives boarders more air time but makes starting on a ski or board easier for beginners. A second tow point with a pop-up pylon at the stern will work well for towing tubers.
Because the engine is located below the deck, passengers have easy access to the swim platform and the water. The soft synthetic material on the platform is ideal because it keeps the bottom of a board or a ski from scratching while offering a comfortable, secure surface for wet feet.
Add a tow-sports mirror and you have an excellent boat for wakesurfing and other various tow sports.
|Draft:||2’8″ (drive up); 3’0″ (drive down)|
|Dry Weight:||3,900 lb.|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||12/1,640 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||56 gal.|
Four Winns H2 OB
The Four Winns H2 OB accommodates tubing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding and barefoot water-skiing. If you want to wakesurf, Four Winns also offers the H2 Surf model with a ballast system, powered by a Volvo Penta Forward Drive (starting at $121,130).
Four Winns provides options for the tow point, including a removable pylon that raises the towline above the outboard. Two wakeboard tower options are also offered. The base tower folds by gas assist, and the upgrade folds electronically.
The backrest of the port helm seat adjusts to face aft for the designated tow-sports spotter. Many outboard swim platforms offer limited use. However, Four Winns cleverly designed a swim platform that extends farther aft to provide plenty of space to put on a ski or a board. The swim platform offers an optional synthetic material on the platform, also ideal for putting on your ski or board.
Power comes from either a Mercury outboard from 200 to 250 hp or a Yamaha from 150 to 200 hp for ample acceleration and top-end speed. Trimmed down, it creates a small, smooth wake ideal for slalom-skiing and barefoot water-skiing. The H2 OB comes with fly-by-wire throttle and hydraulic steering to make throttle and steering smooth and easy for the driver. These features help the driver provide a smoother, consistent pull for the skier or rider behind the boat. The dash sports a touchscreen that provides information such as GPS speed and water depth. To design a perfect outboard-powered tow-sports boat, just add an aftermarket mirror to give the driver visual awareness of the person in tow.
|Draft:||1’6″ (draft up)|
|Dry Weight:||4,100 lb. (with engine)|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||10/2,465 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||40 gal.|
Chaparral 23 SSi
Powered with either a Volvo Penta or a MerCruiser sterndrive, this 23-foot boat includes a variety of tow-sports features as standard or optional. Chaparral includes a tow eye mounted on the transom, with an optional wakeboard tower with a swivel tow point. The swivel tow point helps keep the line from fraying. Board racks are available for the tower also.
Sterndrive power allows for a spacious swim platform on the 23 SSi; however, Chaparral smartly includes an add-on section to extend the swim platform aft by an additional 25 inches as an option. An optional synthetic surface along with the ample space make putting on a wakeboard or a ski easy.
The helm features a touchscreen that provides GPS, water depth and other features. The digital throttle control and optional power steering both enhance the tow-sports driving experience for the driver and the person in tow.
Chaparral also offers the 23 Surf, which features a Volvo Penta or a MerCruiser forward-facing sterndrive ($93,895 nationally advertised price). The Malibu Surf Gate system is a paddlelike device located at the transom of the 23 Surf that converts the wake into a wave for wakesurfing by redirecting water flow past the stern of the boat. The Surf Gate is controlled electronically from the helm, allowing the surfer to transfer from one side of the wake to the other without stopping the boat.
The 23 Surf also features a ballast bladder that stows in the midship ski locker to increase the size of the wake for wakeboarding and wakesurfing.
The 23 SSi and the 23 Surf are perfect choices for those who want more from their boat than just cruising.
|Draft:||1’5″ (draft up)|
|Dry Weight:||3,600 lb. (with engine)|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||13/1,765 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||50 gal.|
The 2023 Yamaha 222XD is ideal for families who love the handling characteristics of a sport jet boat but also want to have fun behind the boat. Yamaha designed the 222XD with multiple tow-sports features, including a wakeboard tower with board racks. The solid, raised tow point makes starts on a ski or a wakeboard easier and allows wakeboard riders to get more air time.
For the wakeboarder and surfer, Yamaha includes ballast bladders in belowdecks storage compartments to increase the size of the wake. The Wakebooster is a Yamaha feature that attaches quickly and easily to the transom of the boat to redirect the flow of water past the stern of the boat to convert the wake into a wave for wakesurfers.
Yamaha features a synthetic deck surface that covers the swim platform. This provides added traction when walking with wet feet, and the soft surface protects the bottom of the board or ski from scratches when putting on bindings. The swim platform rides low to the water, making getting in and out easier.
The 222XD includes multiple high-end features to enhance driving for tow sports. The boat boasts a wide-angle PTM mirror on the windshield, giving the driver improved visual awareness around the boat.
The 12.3-inch Connext touchscreen offers a menu of critical information, such as water depth and GPS speed. With a touch of the Connext screen, the driver can program acceleration, target speed and wake shape to accommodate various levels of rider or surfer experience. These settings can be saved for each individual.
The 222XD features fly-by-wire throttle for easy shifting, ensuring the person in tow a smooth pull-out when starting. Steering is designed to be easy and precise. Controls on the steering wheel allow the driver to maneuver the boat at slow speeds without relying on the throttle.
The new Yamaha 222XD is an excellent choice for families who love tow sports and the agility of a sport jet.
|Dry Weight:||4,191 lb.|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||10/2,050 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||70 gal.|
Scout 195 Sport Dorado
The Scout 195 Sport Dorado is ideal for towing tubers, water-skiers, wakeboarders and barefoot water-skiers. The smaller size (19 1/2 feet in length) makes it maneuverable when pulling someone up or getting back to a fallen skier or rider. A swim step on the portside transom eases getting in and out of the water, and the co-pilot seat swivels aft to ensure a seat for spotting.
Known for quality design and construction, Scout doesn’t skimp on the Sport Dorado’s powder-coated tow point. As an option, it features a sturdy ski tow that arches over the outboard and attaches to the transom and deck at four points.
The 195 comes standard with a Yamaha 115 hp outboard, with an optional 150 hp offered ($54,121). However, the extra power of the 150 hp outboard makes sense for tow-sports use, especially to provide better acceleration for adults getting up on a slalom ski.
Fly-by-wire throttle and hydraulic steering provide a smooth experience for the driver and person in tow. The 195 Sport Dorado is equipped with a 9-inch Garmin display showing GPS speed and water depth, important information for the tow-sports captain.
The moderate 19-degree deadrise, combined with trimming the outboard down, results in a small, easy-to-cross wake for slalom-skiers and barefooters. Just add an aftermarket tow-sports mirror to have a fun family tow-sports boat.
|Dry Weight:||2,150 lb. (without engine)|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||7/1,050 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||43 gal.|
Avalon has proven you can combine pontoon and wakesurfing in the same sentence with its Waketoon, a pontoon designed specifically for wakesurfing and tow sports. The first pontoon with a specialized sterndrive, this 23-foot tri-toon comes standard with a 350 hp MerCruiser 6.2L Bravo Four S forward-facing sterndrive, enabling safer wakesurfing.
The Waketoon’s 4,200 pounds of dry weight creates a wake sufficient to allow two to surf simultaneously, one on each side of the wake. Two hydraulic wake plates at the transom adjust electronically from the helm to fine-tune the wake or convert from wake to wave when wakesurfing.
Avalon includes a wakeboard tower with a Bimini top and optional wakeboard racks. The large in-floor ski locker accommodates skis and boards easily.
In addition to the high tow point for wakeboarding, Avalon offers an optional stern pylon for towing tubers. The roomy swim platform features a soft synthetic surface, making it an ideal space for putting on a board or a ski.
The Waketoon features a plush, comfortable helm seat. The digital throttle-and-shift provides precise acceleration. The dash features a sophisticated design that includes GPS speed and a touchscreen information center. A rearview camera lets the driver monitor the action behind the boat. Where required, simply add an aftermarket tow-sports mirror specifically designed for pontoons and you have an awesome tow-sports machine.
Avalon intelligently redesigned the pontoon by combining features for wakesurfing and tow sports with a modern aesthetic. The Waketoon is clearly not your grandparents’ pontoon.
|Dry Weight:||5,120 lb.|
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||10/2,500 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity:||64 gal.|