Tow Boat Hull Design
The industry has seen tremendous growth in a fairytale-like story
By Jake Thomas
A long time ago, on a lake far far away, there were only a few specialized towboat manufacturers in the business popping out water-ski specific hulls. Since then, the industry has seen a tremendous growth in a fairytale-like story. And, as a result, there are now plenty of tow boats available on the market, each with a unique hull design.
However, for the longest time, water-skiing was really the only sport around. The optimum hull design was a very flat bottom boat often equipped with some fins midship to aid in tracking and turning. These boats were either a direct drive inboard or an outboard configuration and typically did not exceed 19 feet in length. With a narrow hull design by today’s standards, these boats had virtually no wake, which was ideal for slalom, trick and jump disciplines. Even when barefooting came onto the scene, footers could use these same hulls with some additional horsepower to hit the higher speeds. As the sports progressed, select manufacturers started making hulls specific to the various subdisciplines.
There are barefoot specific hulls that are designed to have minimal prop wash behind the boat so the footers have a clean transition when crossing from wake to wake. Sure you can barefoot with any old boat that will do 40+ mph, but any serious barefooter can tell you stories about their hard falls that were the direct result of a frothy or turbulent wake.