There are few better ways to beat the summer heat than jumping in the water and riding behind a boat on a wakeboard, waterskis, or maybe a tube or two. With that in mind we’ve rounded up some of our favorite watersports-oriented towboats for your perusal. While the boats featured here are definitely specialist machinery, there’s nothing stopping you from towing a tube full of kids behind any one of them. Wash, rinse, repeat, and enjoy the summer weather.
According to renowned towboat builder Malibu, its new flagship M235 towboat was “developed in the utmost secrecy.” Sort of makes us think of the infamous Lockheed Skunkworks, from which super-secret, super-fast spy planes such as the SR-71 and U-2 emerged. But does this high-performance luxury towboat live up to Malibu’s hype? Well, we had a chance to crawl around the Malibu M235 at the Miami International Boat Show this year, and from the moment we hopped on board we knew this was a very different towboat. From its touchscreen controls and luxurious upholstery down to its fully customizable wakes and impressive performance, the M235 is full of luxury- and performance-based surprises at every turn.
Those luxury and creature features are clearly evident at the helm, which boasts an expansive, glare-proof, 12-inch center touchscreen, an auxiliary touchscreen, an analog function joystick, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with a custom function control hub in its center. What are all these digital and analog controls for? Well, they allow the driver to customize just about everything, including wake profiles for different riders, stereo functions, trim, ballast, and more.
- Length: 23’5”
- Beam: 8’6”
- Draft: 2’8”
- Displacement: 6,200 lbs
- Fuel capacity: 78 gal.
From bow to stern, this boat has an incredibly high-end look about it. Rich and buttery vinyl upholstery with thick foam and accent stitching are used throughout. Anodized aluminum accents deck hardware such as handrails, engine controls, and the bow gate, while teak-look foam decking softens things underfoot. The M235 is Malibu’s deepest boat yet, which means more room not only for people and gear, but also more room for water ballast. That means bigger, smoother, more customizable wakes.
Speaking of waves, the M235 features Malibu’s Surf Gate, a set of hydraulically actuated panels that move outboard and inboard to form highly customizable, very surfable waves. In addition to Surf Gate the M235 has 5,400 pounds of movable water-ballast capacity. The rider can control both with a waterproof Bluetooth wristband control. If you can’t find the perfect surfing wave behind the M235, you’re doing something wrong.
Monterey 218SS Roswell Surf Edition
For something a bit smaller side than the Malibu M235 we chose the Monterey 218SS. But don’t let that small size fool you. Monterey didn’t build the 218SS just to look fast, it is fast. Very fast. Under the hood we found a 300-horsepower Volvo inboard with Forward Drive. It’s Volvo’s excellent outdrive unit that features a forward-facing Duoprop tucked up under the boat. The drive’s configuration not only keeps harmful propeller blades safely hidden away from folks in the water, it also vents exhaust gasses under the water and out of the faces of folks riding behind the boat. Those 300 ponies will blast you right into the mid 50-mph range if you mash the throttle down. We found that this engine/boat combo cruises very efficiently in the low 30s.
There’s plenty of deck space to haul family and friends along on your watery adventures. Forward is an expansive bow area with twin forward-facing lounges that can also be used as a U-shaped seating area. Two huge waterproof speakers pipe stereo sound through the area, and we especially liked how Monterey provides two stainless-steel handrails for occupants up here. Two swiveling bucket chairs are provided for folks behind the two consoles, and a wide bench rounds out the cockpit seating. A padded set of hatches over the engine and aft stowage areas form a sunpad.
- Length: 21’8”
- Beam: 8’4”
- Draft: 2’11”
- Deadrise: 19 degrees
- Displacement: 3,650 lbs
- Fuel capacity: 26 gal.
Getting back to that watersports theme, the Monterey 218SS Roswell Surf has tons of wake surfing, wakeboarding, and watersports features baked right in. Among them are a collapsible wakeboard/watersports tower with wakeboard racks, upgraded stereo system, custom LED lighting, 1,800 pounds of customizable water ballast, and Zero Off GPS speed control system.
Maybe you’ve got a need for speed. Maybe you’re looking for a versatile watersports platform. If you’re looking for both, the Monterey 218SS Roswell Surf Edition is your dream date.
Scarab 255 Impulse
For many years the Scarab name was synonymous with speed, performance, and go-fast looks. But the brand’s style changed a handful of years ago, when the Scarab brand was transformed into a line of high-performance jet boats. If you blinked, you may have missed it. Luckily these new jet boats share a lot of the original Scarab’s high-performance DNA. The largest in the builder’s lineup—as well as in our towboat roundup, the 255 Impulse WAKE has the makings of an excellent watersports platform.
Getting straight to it, the WAKE package gets you splashy hullside graphics with matching interior colors, 1,150 pounds of removable water ballast, and a collapsible watersports tower. Water ballast and trim settings are located in the cockpit and allow the skipper to custom-fashion any number of different wakes for the rider.
Under the engine hatch in the 255 Impulse WAKE model we scoped out was a pair of Rotax 250-horsepower engines, though twin 200-horsepower Rotax’s are standard. The 250’s are capable of jetting the 255 up to the low 50-mph range. Also impressive is the three-second planing acceleration that can easily throw you back into your seat.
- Length: 25’0”
- Beam: 8’4”
- Draft: 1’3”
- Deadrise: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 3,660 lbs
- Fuel capacity: 56 gal.
BRP’s new Intelligent Shift and Throttle system is also is included. It’s a fly-by-wire engine control setup that’s interlinked with the throttle, reverse jet bucket, and the engine’s ECM to improve slow- and high-speed handling and tracking.
Hop aboard the 255 Impulse WAKE and you’ll find tons of seating space and lots of clever stowage. Back at the stern is a large wet stowage area hidden in the swim platform beneath two hinged lockers. Additional gear can be stowed farther forward in two huge lockers beneath the cockpit deck. The 255’s seating is versatile as well. There’s a pair of convertible lounges in the stern that can face forward or aft, thanks to swinging seatbacks, and the remaining cockpit seats can be transformed into a wraparound cockpit lounge using flip-up seat fillers that stow neatly away when not in use. It’s all a nifty way to make a single seating area suitable for multiple uses. Seating forward in the bow is plentiful, too.
High-performance jet power, an awesome wakeboard package, lots of clever features and and a legendary name—what’s not to love?