Summer means one thing to a lot of people – time to hit the water!
Over the years, people have come up with several ways of making the beach fun, such as tubing, water skiing, or wakeboarding.
Each water activity has their own appeal, purpose, and requirements.
Tubing involves being dragged at the boat driver’s whim, with no control over your direction or destination. Water skiing offers more control, but requires a moderate amount of leg strength in order to get the most out of it.
Wakeboarding is simple enough for most to enjoy.
But, these all require being dragged by a boat. What does that matter? Because those boats are expensive!
Boats and Towing
Not all boats are equal, and not all boats are great for towing a load in the water.
Smaller boats may be able to accommodate tubes, as those readily float on the water even with the weight of a person on them.
The floating reduces the resistance from the “drag” on the boat, which requires far less work.
A jet ski could haul an inner tube designed for a small child, if the boaters were determined enough.
Tubes are about all that will float on their own, though.
When it comes to water skiing or boarding, the boat must be able to haul the load fast enough to be able to fight the resistance of the sinking people and do it with the proper consistency to allow the people to stay above the surface of the water.
Though larger boats, such as a barge, are certainly going to have the power to haul someone, they are often limited in speed for safety reasons.
The lack of speed can make skimming the surface of the water difficult, particularly when it’s time to turn.
Wakeboard boats, however, are known for their maneuverability and speed.
They’re small enough to navigate lakes at a decent speed, powerful enough to actually hit high speeds.
This puts them in a special niche that is excellent for the sport.
Prices are determined by demand more than anything, especially the demanding market.
Many things that were once inexpensive become expensive not because of a rarity, but simply because more affluent markets decide to join in on the idea.
Camping, for example, used to be a go-to activity for the lower-income families, but has been priced out of that income range due to the “glamping” scene increasing the popularity of camping to the middle and upper classes, making it much more expensive to even rent a spot to camp.
Boating is an activity that has likewise increased in popularity, largely working in tandem with camping.
Now, it isn’t uncommon for middle-class (and higher) families to reserve a weekend camping spot months in advance with the intent of spending as much of that time on the water as possible.
Everyone from manufacturers to the retailers all adjust their prices, accordingly.
Let’s start with this: Boats were never inexpensive. Boats were never something that the “Average American” and their 2.3 kids had in every garage.
Boats were always extra.
Manufacturers aren’t building boats with the goal of EVERYONE buying them; they’re making boats with the goal of making a profit from the sale of as many as possible, but they aren’t made in such a high volume that drastic markdowns are made to move the product.
The price of inflation has hit a lot of luxuries harder than it has mainstream items due to the need to make up for the number of sales through a wider profit margin.
Wakeboard Boat Design
With the increase of wakeboarding in popularity, these boats are being made with a special attention being paid to the wake that is left in the water.
Boats used to be designed to keep wakes to a minimum, as the focus used to be on reducing drag and increasing speed.
Since wakeboarders WANT a good wake, many boats have been going through a redesign just to create a more desirable wave.
In order to create the perfect wake, engineers are being utilized to work with designers to determine what shape of the hull, what materials, and what weight all work together the best to form the most ideal ripple effect behind the boat.
In addition to the engineer salary, this also means that much more money is spent on research and development than before.
The knowledge of the design for the smoother was so well served that boat makers used to not have to test the smallest changes time and time again just to verify a result.
With the changes being more deliberate, and the goal being so different (larger wakes, versus small), this leads designers to occasionally scrap ideas that have already had money spent on them.
Wakeboard boats are also being made with more sturdy materials than before.
This is because it is no surprise that these boats are put through the wringer by drivers who will be going between max speed and stopped, several times, over several hours, each day that the boat is in use.
Just like cars, boats now have several technological inclusions that boats did not used to have.
Wakeboard boats now often have sonar depth tracking as a standard feature, something that used to never come with even nicer boats.
In addition to these bells and whistles, wakeboard boats are now designed to offer control of a ballast system.
The driver can actually affect the height and width of the waves so that wakeboarders can have more of a custom experience that leans to the experience and preferences of the individual being towed.
Speed control has even become more advanced.
Boaters used to have to be familiar with knots and know how to see their own speed.
Now, GPS is often integrated into boats that use location mapping to help regulate speed.
Cost and Options
There are a few brands who seek to over value pricing to make wakeboarding more accessible to people.
These boats often lack the bells and whistles of the more luxury brands.
But, each drop in price is a drop in a feature, such as sturdy materials, tech, or other features.
Wakeboard boats may be expensive compared to other types, but that’s because a lot more goes into these boats than just what is necessary to stay afloat on the water.