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Pontoon boat on the sea

Can You Water Ski Behind a Pontoon Boat?


Many people think of a pontoon boat as a floating party barge incapable of moving much faster than a few miles per hour. Today's pontoons, however, are streamlined works of marine art capable of speeds up to 50 mph.


Much more than just a stationary float, pontoons are a superb choice for all kinds of boating fun including water skiing.


Choosing your pontoon boat motor


Just like pontoon boats, boat engines come in all sizes and capacities. If powering the boat itself is your only concern, a smaller engine may be suitable. But if you plan on using your pontoon to water ski or wakeboard, your engine choice needs to include speed considerations for safety.


Twin toons, or pontoon boats with two pontoons, generally provide the best pull with engines between 50 and 90 horsepower. These engines are capable of speeds up to 26 mph. Tri-toons have added structural stability due to the third pontoon. These pontoons can handle motors starting at 150 hp and ranging over 350 hp, resulting in speeds averaging 40 mph.


How much horsepower does a pontoon boat need to pull a skier?


Water skiing is a prevalent boating activity and can be done on one ski, two skis or barefoot. For a safe time, the tow needs to be strong enough to pull the skier and lift the skis above the water. Many factors come into play: the person's weight and height, wind speeds, wave height and boat construction, as well as engine speed. In general, skiing with two skis needs a speed around 25 mph, and a mono-ski needs a little more pull at 25 to 30 mph.


Barefoot skiing takes the most speed because of the smaller surface area of the soles compared to skis. To reach the right pull and lift, barefoot skiing requires speeds around 40 mph. Wakeboarding, another common water sport amongst water skiers, can be done at slower speeds around 15 to 20 mph.


Both twin toons and tri-toons equipped with motors make a safe choice for water skiing and other water sports. With the ability to reach speeds between 25 and 50 mph, pontoons are more than up for the challenge. Remember to wear your safety vest and watch for obstructions in the water. Load up your skis and let your pontoon pull you to adventure.