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Glock
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Hi All,

 

I am new to posting at this site, I have been a lurker for about a year now. I am looking to purchase a "new to me" boat for skiing this summer and need some advice narrowing my search.

 

Here is a little about me. I am 33 and an avid skier. I am getting into 28 at 34mph and running it 30% of the time. Most of my skiing is done in a course on the Willamette river in Portland, OR. I currently ski behind a friends 2001 Sunsetter LXI which I like and a a 99 Sport Nautique which I don't love. I need a boat to serve my slalom addiction but one that works for the family as well. I also have a budget of around $15k. I started my skiing addiction behind my parents 99 nautique 196 and the Michigan State University waterski club 1998 prostar 190. I loved the 196 and liked the 190 except for the mechanical issues we had with it.

 

So hear are my thoughts. I think I really need an open bow to meet the needs of family and friends. I have one child right now and another not too far off. I am looking at the snob in the 97-2001 vintage but am worried about interior space. I am also considering the response lx. Goods deals are out there for this boat. How much of a difference in skiability is there between a 97 and earlier vs a 98 and newer?

 

Any and all opinions are welcome. I am also looking for ski buddies in the greater Portland area. If you love to ski, lets have a beer sometime and talk bouys.

 

Thanks!!

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Disagree with the boo wakes. I'm biased. I also question open bows for small kids. Inherently dangerous IMHO. Have a buddy that has an OB cause of fam and could not talk him out of it. Funny, when I see them running the river, no one is up front. To windy, to dangerous. Equipment gets put up there cause all under bow storage is lost. IMHO you gain one seat maybe. Playpen OB on SN is way to shallow. If it has to be OB Boo Lx and Sportster makes the most sence. Forward facing bench so your feet are on the floor and your a bit deeper inside the boat. Comfortably sit 6 in a CB SN. Plenty storage under bow.

 

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I went through the same decision making process a couple of years ago and decided to stay with the 196. We keep a course in a backwater cove on a public river. With the family we play on the river, yes we even pull a tube with the kids, then anchor the tube in the cove as a swim platform while we ski. Keeps the crew weight down in the course and still have great wakes at all line lengths and speeds. My other strong consideration was the 206 but in the end didn't think the "extra room" offset the extra wake/cost.
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NO OPEN BOW

I have a 2007 197 MC open bow so I know and agree with what these guys are saying. It's a complete waste of good storage space and no one ever sits in the front. In fact I don't feel safe up there myself.

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@thompjs. I said I was bias but the 97 SN CB has the best rep. I know bias again. Check this out and click on the photo of the boat with the crew on it. Check out how cramped for adults and shallow it is up front for those two. Kids could fall out do to shallowness and Boo is one of the deeper ones. And look how close the nose is to the water. A good wake would swamp it let alone dropping it in neutral off plane.. Swamp. Now picture the two in the back. 3 would be comfortable back there (seat added of course) and maybe one sitting on dog house or cushen on floor.

http://www.ski-it-again.com/php/skiitagain.php?topic=Search&category=Comp_Boat&postid=17303

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I ski behind a 98 malibu echelon and we have guys in our group with a 97 SN 196 (I think), a 91 PS 190, a 99 sunsetter…the list goes on. The sunsetter has a much larger wake…to the point that many of us don’t really ski it anymore. You can fit quite a few people in the closed bow more recent boats. If you are going for a step over open bow, I would say skip it…you don’t gain much in the way of room. If you are going for a walk through, they are probably safer and do give you more room, but you won’t have the same skiability as with the other boats. Always trade-offs, I guess. Good luck.
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I have an 02 Response LX and it is great. We do use the open bow my kids sit up there sometimes and they have always stayed in their seats since they were 6 or 7. You do need to be careful when nosing back into wakes at idle speed but other than that I like it.
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The problem with inboards is that they are just that, inboards ..the motors in the middle of the boat! They will never be a pleasure craft that you can tool around in and have conversations with each other like a big ol run-about or pontoon. Even with the bigger ones that dont ski well. If its for skiing primarily, consider one or to of these. - jump seats- They are designed to fit between motor box and coming pad/gunnel. They are actually comfortable. I've lounged on one before sitting on a dock. Probably have one made for under $200 to match your boat. With the tow eye in the back of a 196 or others and a couple of these facing backwards it's a recreational dream boat.

http://www.nautiqueskins.com/image/46945258_scaled_320x240.jpg

Ok I'll shut up.

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Gotta throw in a bone here for the Moomba Outback.. Great budget boat. Open bow (love it or hate it) and decent ski wake. 95 inch beam (wide) On purely a wake standpoint, not as good as a closed bow SN, but not bad, and much better than a Sunsetter. Getting an older one for 15k should be no problem.
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Those Sunsetter LXI’s are hard to beat for space and ski ability. I used to ski behind a friends 99. I agree with others and will never own an open bow boat. But if you want a larger $10-20k ski boat those Sunsetter’s or a versatile MC 205 are hard to beat IMOP.

 

Jamie

 

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I have a 2001 open bow(not walk through) Response. Fit a family of 6 with a pair of combos, 3 slalom skis, 2 wakeboards, cooler of food and beverages for the kids, towels, 6 life jackets and wetsuits and while it is crowded we all fit. Wake is nicer than newer Lxi and in my opinion the MC197 at mid lengths. I do have a tower with a board rack which helps. The 2001 has the back storage locker which holds a ton of equipment. Front is pretty safe as it is a single bench looking forward and bow is higher than some other boats so not to bad. Only do a small swamp a couple times a year when on public water and I miss 3 surfer boats wakes coming my way as I turn slowly to pick someone up.
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For us, we have an open bow Natique 206. Awesome for the family - more room than the 196 - doesn't sound like much but feels like there is a ton more room inside.

 

Slalom wakes 28 and shorter are very good and 32 shorter very similar the 196.

Longline not near as good as 196. Quite a difference at longline.

 

Don't get the dislike for the open bow for a family rec boat.

We don't drive with kids up front, BUT when we park and float, the kids (and adults) really like hanging out in the bow. We do a lot of that and really opens up some usable space to spread out.

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Its too bad you don't have about 5K more in your budget. I plan on putting my 2004 Mastercraft X7 (197 hull) up for sale this summer. This boat has a great ski

wake, Horton used to ski behind it all the time (but he left me for Zero off).) It also has a nice recreational wake for wakeboarding, a tower, and open bow. Open bows are only good for very small kids, and you have to drive more carefully on open waterways with weight in the bow. The X7's/197 make great family boats, there are 3 on our private lakes.

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My ski partner and neighbor at Ski West had an older Moomba (open bow) and it was one of the worst driving slalom boats on our lakes. The boat was difficult to balance, and had mushy wakes. Before he bought his 196 he would rather put gas in my boat and ski behind me than ski behind his Moomba
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Hmm.. interesting... Im sure the X7 was awsa certified, but the Outback is as well. The Outback drives big, I wouldn't say bad, but big. It is very sensitive to weight. I think most slalom boats are. Wakes.. I haven't had enough slalom time behind mine to make a call yet. (less than 20 slalom sets) So far, to be honest, not bad, but I haven't been impressed.

 

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Thanks for all the advice on the boats. After alot of talk with my wife, I think we are going to stick with a open bow idea. With that being said, is the interior space in the SNOB smaller than the Response LX? Here are the boats I am looking at. Thoughts?

 

http://www.ski-it-again.com/php/skiitagain.php?topic=Search&category=Comp_Boat&postid=18221

 

http://www.ski-it-again.com/php/skiitagain.php?topic=Search&category=Comp_Boat&postid=17076

 

http://www.ski-it-again.com/php/skiitagain.php?topic=Search&category=Comp_Boat&postid=18009

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Response LX has a little more useful and deeper open bow. Forward facing mini bench seat and feet go on the carpeted area in front and below. The SN is just a cut out with a flat filler cushion in there. I love the 196 for skiing, but given you plan to use your open bow would say LX.
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I think I agree. I love the 196 and have skiied behind one alot, but given my needs, the RLX seems to fit the bill. Anyone know anybody selling one on the west coast or preferably pacific northwest? 99 or newer?
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biased here as I recently acquired a SN from that design era but I like the way the minimal rear trunk in the nautique gives you more leg room between the rear bench and the motor box, though it comes at the expense of storage. not a big deal for me since any gear that isn't in use will be at the dock. can't speak about the bows.
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Don't listen to all the squawking about open bows being unsafe. I've been driving open bows for almost 20 years both in the course and in open water. I've had as many as 2 200+ pound adults in the play pen of my SNOB numerous times without anyone falling out or getting injured, although that much weight does screw up the wakes quite a bit. This also means you pick up room for more than one passenger with the open bow. If you aren't careful you can take a roller over the front when you go back for a fallen skier but if the driver pays attention it is no problem at all. Often there is a bit of a scramble for the open bow on the way back to the dock as it is a great place to stretch out and get some sun.

 

Be careful of the Malibu with the bench seat. Getting in the bow with a bimini up can be a real interesting experience. I have almost pitched forward on my head a couple of times, but I'm not the most coordinated person you'll ever meet.

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Have owned a sportster '01 LX, currently have an '02 wake setter (sunsetter) LXI, was w/ a club that a member had '97 sport nautique...and a different member had a MC 205..... I would shy away from the LX's (step overs), just not very usable space, the sport nautique was never used for skiing if there were other options and I only skied the 205 if I had to. ....of course the club member w/ a SN 196 had the best ski wake, but the LXi seemed to treat him ok too.
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I have two young kids and a 197. For me it's a great boat that does well on private pond as well as a relatively small public lake. We do use the open bow, but very carefully(low speeds and adults). Within the $15k price range however I would be looking for a late 90's 196. Great skiing and I'd compromise the bow before skiing.
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What do you guys think about a 98 ski nautique closed bow 196 with 1500 hours, assuming all the maintenance was done. Anything specific I should look at or consider with a boat with this many hours?
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I would stay away from a SNOB (I owned a '99). The "playpen" is useless for nothing more than throwing wet lifejackets up there. You have to step on the dash behind the passenger seat to get in, plus if you don't have a walkthrough windshield you are then stepping over it. I was very uncomfortable putting my kids up there because of the lack of access. As an adult, your knees are either going to be at your chin or hanging over the side.

 

If you're committed to an OB at that price range, definitely go MC or Bu.

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I left MC after 95 and went to RLX Open bow because of family. Other than swamp factor on public water ways due to wakeboard boats and cruisers, never a real problem. 99 and up has the diamond cut hull design and the rear trunk for storage. It actually holds more than the newer RLXI's and TXI's. It has great wakes and is by far the best for children skiers. Great on fuel compared to the others and easy to care for. Spring for a 99 or 2000 RLX and you won't be sorry.

(you can ski with people in the front too)

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Former response LX owner here. The only drawback to the open bow in the response lx is the access over the windshield. You could look for an openbow echelon which had a walk through but I don't think that was available any years with the diamond hull, which debuted in 1998. FWIW I currently have a CB 98 response and it skis great.

 

Ham, cut diamond didn't come out until recently, 07 as I recall, SV23 diamond released in 1998. Correct on the trunk tho, that was 1999.

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@TNh2oskier - I've got the 206 and have skied the SN196, MC197, MC205, 200 Sport and many other boats that are at the lake I ski on. (196 is the runaway winner for slalom and MC205 the runaway most brutal IMHO)

I've got a family that likes to spend days on the lake (usually with friends along too).

We ended up going with the 206 because a 196 is just way to small for a whole family (+ friends) although from a pure ski perspective it's REALLY hard to top the 196.

 

The 206 has open bow (which family loves) and is a nice slalom boat.

I'm a longline skiier, and the longline wake is not a 196 wake. no question.

 

Friends ski short line and 28 and in it's very very close to the 196.

 

197 is decent, but I'd recommend comparing both closely in person on and off the water and forming your own opinion.

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@TNh20skier I was looking for the same things and settled on a Response LXi. I don't have much personal experience but seemed like the longer line wake of the 3 was worst on the 206 from what I could find, plus they were harder to find and seemed to be more expensive for what you got. The 197s are nice, but are a little smaller and the wife wasn't a fan of the step over to the bow (and the 7 capacity plate since she likes to take out other families on more social days).

 

The RLXi seemed to be the largest of the 3 without being too big a boat, has true walkthrough and was pretty good reputation wise for longer line. If you do more than ski, having the wedge as an option is nicer than having to mess with ballast in my opinion. This may be a bit wally, but the RLXi is the only one with a rear tow point standard (not supposed to use the nautique lifting rings), so you could use that on more casual days with kids and still use the back seat (if you don't get/want a tower). The 07+ has a bit more freeboard, is a little nicer ride in rough water, and is less likely to dip the bow with people sitting up there compared to the 03-06. The earlier model goes back to 03, so it could fit a pretty wide budget range.

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@glock, I can vouch for Greg Hayes' 1997 SNOB, ski it again # 18221 you are considering. It has a great wake, runs and drives perfect and it already has the Z-Box upgraded PP Stargazer.

 

Unless you run an open bow on big water or heavy boat traffic then no worries. I've had a 94 MC 205 since new and raised 2 daughters in the open bow. Also a 07 Bu RLXi. Drive an open bow like you have people you want to protect (your kids) instead of people you want to impress (drinking buddies) and you will rarely have problems.

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@Brent - I've seen that video too, but it looks like they had the hydrogate down. Quite honestly it's much better than you'd expect - it surprised me because I've been behind DD's that had worse wakes at -15.

 

@TNh2oskier - at -15 25 and 28MPH the wakes start to get more challenging - but that's not exclusive to this particular 20' boat - out of all the boats I get to be dragged behind only the smallest slalom boats seem to be better at slower speeds longline. The old MC190 and SN196 are the ones I think

maintain decent wakes at longline from my own personal experience.

 

Now, let me say also that I'm far far from being any expert - I'm a newb skier spending all my time at -15 off, but these are my personal experiences for whatever it's worth.

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The late 90’s early 2000’s Nautique SNOB is a great choice with a 15k budget. A good friend of mine has one. Great wake with good storage under the tourney seat since there’s no walk through. Verses the closed bow you get the additional 2 or 3 person capacity for those trips from the boat landing to the sand bar on public water; and the ability to lounge up front while the boat is parked. Good luck!
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