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Boat Show: Wake boats gain in popularity and options

Robert Lowry, right, a long-time hydroplane and boat racing enthusiast, checks out a hydroplane with Ted Yurek, vice president of Coeur d'Alene Silver Cup, at the Spokane Boat Show. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Robert Lowry, right, a long-time hydroplane and boat racing enthusiast, checks out a hydroplane with Ted Yurek, vice president of Coeur d'Alene Silver Cup, at the Spokane Boat Show. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

So let’s say that Ye Olde Inner Tube of Death no longer provides enough thrills and you’ve graduated to surfing behind a boat.

But the only way you can surf behind a boat is to have a boat that somehow makes a wave big enough to allow said activity. The so called “Wake” boats, which suck in water as ballast to create surfable waves, have been around for more than a decade. And, many cost as much as a new house.

With that in mind, Heyday has brought lake surfers a potential somewhat-affordable solution: the Wake Tractor. Two WT-1’s are on display at the 62nd annual Spokane Boat Show, which runs through Sunday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

“It is designed to plow the water,” said Geoff Smith of Sandpoint Marine and Motorsports. “It makes the same wave for surfing that wake boat that cost $70,000 or $80,000 will do.”

Nothing makes kayakers and dock owners your friend faster than a boat designed to make a mini-tsunami.

The WT-1, made by Bryant Boats under the name Heyday, is listed at $44,995. It also has higher-priced cousin that has all the wave-making ability but adds the element of illuminating the water under the boat using a series of lights. It seats eight people and it’s powered by a 5.7 liter engine.

“It used to be that everybody wanted to water ski. Then they wanted to wake board and now its wake surfing,” Smith said. “And you need that wave to wake surf.”

Those who want to step up from the water-plowing tractor, can step into an Axis Wake T23 by Malibu. It can hold 16 people and has surf gates that can change the pitch of the wave, for only $80,366.

Bret O’Brien, who works sales for Hagadone Marine Group in Coeur d’Alene, said the dealership has 15 different models of the wake boats to choose from.

Not to be out done, Midway Automotive Group in Post Falls recently added the Tige’ line of wake boats. The models range in price from the $60,000 range up to about $150,000 said Tyson Arrotta.

In addition to a ballast boat with adjustable plates, the Tige’ boats also have a remote control for the wave surfer.

“The rider can shape the wave to his desired preferences as he’s riding,” Arrotta said

That’s a wrap

Of course, the boat show has dozens of vendors filling 160,000 square feet of all things that either float or make those floating things nicer, said show manager Scott Thompson.

“We do this in the middle of the winter because that’s when you get the best buy on a boat,” Thompson said. “This is the best place to do all of your comparison shopping.”

One of the vendors offers a new twist on an old boat: the vinyl wrap.

Josh Scott, owner of Maximum Exposure in Coeur d’Alene, can put vinyl wrap on virtually any paintable surface. Scott had a boat on display that he wrapped a couple of years ago for a Cougars fan who wanted his boat to have the Washington State colors and logo.

He charges about $1,800 to wrap a typical 19-foot boat. The customer comes in and they work out a design on computer. That design is transferred to 54-inch wide sheets that go on like huge stickers. The wrap lasts three to five years and can make any old boat look brand new over night.

“You can peel it off and not hurt the original finish,” Scott said. “It doesn’t cost more if I put on a rainbow or standard white. And the design for your boat is limited only by your imagination.”


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