What Size Boat is Right For You?

How to get it right the first time and choose the perfect sized boat for your crew

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, size matters (haha). Now that we’ve got all of the immature thoughts and obvious jokes out of our head, let’s dive into todays topic. Choosing the right size boat for your crew isn’t always as straight forward as it seems. Unfortunately, we speak with people all too often that had previously bought the wrong size boat and are looking to make a change because of it. While your first instinct may be to simply buy the biggest, nicest boat you can afford, a lot more goes into actually getting it right. Let’s check out the factors that we feel are the most important to consider when choosing the right size for you.

Purchase The Right Length Wakeboard Boat Based off You and Your Crew
Determine How Many People Are Going To Be Part of Your Normal Crew

Determine Your Regular Crew Size

The size of your regular crew is probably the first and most important thing to consider when choosing the right sized boat. It’s important to think about what a normal day on the water looks like for your crew. Note that we said your normal day on the water, and not the once-per-summer occasions that you have both sides of your extended family out on the lake with you. After all, the goal is to get the maximum enjoyment out of your boat on the most occasions that you use it. If a typical day on the water for you is your immediate family of three or four, then a 20 or 21’ boat might suit you just fine. If you own the party boat and are liable to have ten to twelve people with you on any given day, your sites should probably be set on something on the bigger end of the spectrum. But wait a second. Doesn’t this 20’5” Moomba Helix have a capacity of 12 people? Why yes, it does, which brings us to one of the biggest misconceptions there is about choosing the right size.

Don’t Look at the Capacity Sticker

It’s only logical that you would look at the “seating capacity” sticker (which can be found on just about every boat) and think that should be the benchmark for your decision. If the sticker says 12 people, then your crew of 12 should fit just fine right? Wrong, and here’s why: the capacity sticker is there to tell you the amount of people you are legally allowed to have in your boat, and not the amount of people that will comfortably fit. It’s based partially on space, but also things like the amount of grab handles, overall buoyancy of the boat, and more. In order to fit the amount of people that the sticker allows in any boat, the passengers are going to have to be sitting elbow to elbow. A good rule of thumb when trying to determine how many you could fit comfortably is to look at the capacity sticker and cut the number in half. This isn’t an exact science, as some crews travel light and others might cram their boat with everything but the kitchen sink, but it’s a good starting point. Bottom line, the amount of people and gear that you’d like to fit in your boat and still have enough space to breathe is more important than the capacity sticker. With that said, comfort and space aren’t always the only things to consider.

Don't Purchase Your Boat Based on The Seating Capacity


When we’re looking at wake and ski boats, specifically, we should point out that the size range is about 20-26’. There have been bigger v-drive boats like the monstrous MasterCraft X80, but none that have stood the test of time. To keep from diving too deep into hydrodynamics (and let’s be real, we’re not that smart anyway), we’ll just say that we as humans have determined that boats in the 20-26’ range specifically are able to create great wakes for boarding and surfing. With that in mind, though, there are performance benefits to boats on each end of the spectrum.


Let’s face it: big boats are simply less maneuverable than smaller ones. Just a few feet in size can make a big difference in how a boat handles while going down the lake, and even how difficult it is to park at the dock. This is why you may not always just want to go with the biggest boat you can afford. Need to turn around in tight corners of the lake? Prefer not to look like a first-timer when docking in the wind? Tow your boat with a less-than-truck-sized vehicle? If any of these are the case, you may want to consider the smallest boats your regular crew will allow for.

Wake Performance

We’d like to start this section by saying we’ve seen great wakes come out of boats big and small across a wide variety of brands. There’s not one specific size of boat that makes the best wake, but there is a difference in how they do it. Aside from hull design (which is very important), making a great wake is all about the amount of water you displace. In a smaller boat, any ballast you add will have a great effect on how much you sink the hull down into the water. The lower your hull sits in the water, the bigger the wake will be. On the other hand, a larger boats will need much more weight in relation to the smaller boat to be able to displace as much water. It might be heavier, but with all that size comes additional buoyancy. In fact, some larger wake boats like the 2020 Supra SE come with more standard ballast to compensate for this. Some say the sweet spot is right in that medium 22-23’ range, but again, we know you can get a great wake out of boats of all sizes. There is simply a difference in how you achieve it.


Finally, there’s the obvious limiting factor of price. If your sights are set on getting a new model of one specific brand, then your budget may dictate just one or two models you can choose from. However, if your mind is a bit more open to possibility, you don’t necessarily need to choose price over the right size. For example, you could choose a lightly used 23’ boat that costs roughly the same as a brand new 21’ foot boat. You could also consider a more value-oriented brand like Moomba that could stretch your dollar a lot further than a luxury brand. This begs the question, is it worth it sometimes to take a step down in “features” in order to get a bigger boat? In most situations, we’d say yes. Depending on the size of your regular crew, enough space for everyone and their gear will probably feel like a bigger luxury than any electronic gadget ever could..

2020 Boat Models: SouthTown Watersports