A question I’ve been getting a lot is if a Jet Ski can pull skiers, towable tubes, wakeboards, or even wakeskates. The answer is yes, or at least most of them can. But that is not your biggest issue.
Let’s talk about the real issue(s) and what skis and horsepower to get to be able to pull.
The Real Issue
The main issue is the tow rope behind your ski and the odds of you sucking it up. You’re sitting on a machine that has more power than most compact cars and it’s constantly sucking up water or anything that gets near the intake(even when in neutral). It’s not a matter of “if” you’ll suck up your tow rope but a matter of “when”. Everyone does it, they do it so much that I had to write about what to do if you do it here.
To lower the chances of sucking up your rope you need a Shock Tube like this one here (Amazon Link Ad). (Check out the other Jet Ski Accessories that I recommend getting here)The shock tube is a float that helps keep the tow rope away from the jet ski. A good practice is to avoid reversing when you have a tow rope behind you as that is the number one thing people do before they suck up ropes.
Not buying a Shock Tube is like knowing the road you drive on every day has nails in it and you’ll just take your chances on your car getting a flat tire. Do you really want to be stuck replacing your tires when you need them the most or having fun with the family? The same goes for the shock tube, do you want to be stuck with your jet ski in the shop when you rather be having fun with the family? Or the kid’s complaining about not having a jet ski to ride because it’s in the shop all because you didn’t get a shock tube to lower the chances.
How Much HP Do I Need?
Even a 60HP Spark can pull a tube, but it won’t pull it as well as a 155HP Wake. You also have other factors like the rider’s weight, what you’re pulling, and riding conditions.
Don’t forget that there are other things to worry about like the Law. Most states won’t let you pull something on a Jet Ski unless you have a spotter. Some won’t even allow 2-seat jet skis to pull anything at all, with some saying you need mirrors. It’s best to contact your local dealer about the laws on pulling tubes and such with your jet ski.
I’ve had a 90HP Sea-Doo Spark pull me on a tube just fine and I’m 240 pounds – just to give you an idea. When pulling you don’t go fast anyway, anywhere from 10mph to 25mph so a 70MPH machine is not needed.
I could go on and on about what skis can pull what, but I figure it might be better to see some proof. Below is a collection of people pulling other people on their jet skis. I’ll list off what it is and how much power it has below so you can see if your ski or future ski can pull it.
3up 90HP Sea-Doo Spark
130HP Sea-Doo GTI
155HP Sea-Doo Wake 155 (170HP Too)
215HP Sea-Doo Wake Pro (230 Too) – More than enough power for anyone for pulling.
Overkill in power for pulling anyone. Casey Neistat Made a Video about him being pulled by an RXP-X 300 which is a 2-Seater so this would be a no-no in many States. Also, you can not jet ski in those canal’s but it shows that a 300 is enough if not overkill for pulling anyone or anything behind a jet ski. Otherwise, it’s a great video!
6 thoughts on “What To Look For – Can a Jet Ski pull a Skier – Tube – Wakeboard?”
My family and I are in the market for a PWC that will be primarily used for water sports such as skiing, tubing and wakeboarding.
My first question: should I be looking solely at each manufacturers offering for such a machine (like Sea Doos Wake Pro 230) or can I/should I be looking at other PWCs that don’t specifically mention water sports ? I assume that other PWCs can pull skiers and tubers even though they are not marketed as such. Is the Sea Doo Wake Pro made differently so that it functions better as a water sport machine ? If so, can you elaborate ? Or is it just marketing.
My second question: New or used. Is there a big difference in the various water sports models from year to year? Wake Pro for instance: can I use the same hours/years/storage guidelines that you have laid out in previous posts for a water sports PWC vs. a pure cruising/speed PWC ? Does hauling skiers and tubes put extra strain on any part of the PWC that you would need to take into consideration when buying used (is 1 hour of pulling a tube different than 1 hour of just flying across a lake @ 45mph)? Have manufacturers learned over the years and made any dramatic changes to design or powertrain for models specifically used for water sports?
Any jet ski can pull tubes, but the more HP you go with, the more power you have to pull. I would stay with 125HP or more if you’re going to do a lot of pulling. The WAKE models are quite nice, they have features like SKI Mode that makes the person driving life easier and the person being pulled gets a constant pull. With SKI Mode, you set the take-off power and the top speed, and the jet ski does the work for you. The WAKE also have a ski pylon which is nice as it gets the tow-rope up higher which is ideal for wakeboarders. You don’t need these items, but it does make things a lot easier, and for some Sea-Doo’s you can add these features, so you don’t exactly need a WAKE model.
The significant differences happen in generations of new bodies. When Sea-Doo went with the S3 hull in 2009 and didn’t change that until 2018, those two machines do ride different and have a different feel. But going from something like a 2015 GTX to a 2016 GTX is not always a huge change. Jet ski manufacturers try to have a new body every 8 to 10 years.
I draw no difference between 1 hour pulling a tube and 1 hour of just riding. When it comes to jet skis, it’s usually all or nothing. People ride them hard all the time, so there is no need to separate the hours. As for strain on the engine, go with more horsepower when you can for pull sports. You can feel the strain with the smaller engines, my 90HP spark will pull me on a tube, but you can smell it struggling and feel it too. That 170HP (or 155HP from the past) Sea-Doo engine is just a good pull sports engine, the 230HP is better, but that 170HP is the Goldilocks of power. The 300HP engine is just overkill for pull sports.
I’ve been a slalom skier for over 35 years and have wake-boarded several years as well behind large boats and various PWC (Yamaha 150 hp and Sea Doo 210 hp). I weigh ~ 180 to 190 lbs and the biggest challenge has always been getting UP and on PLANE ASAP to minimize fatigue and false starts. I can personally tell you from experience there is no substitute for HP in getting that job done well – whether you are wake-boarding or skiing. Waging the tail of the PWC can be an issue on hard far out turns when SKIING, but less of an issue wake-boarding because you are typically on a higher plane with less resistance and less force on the PWC.I actually enjoy slalom skiing behind a powerful PWC and waging its tail in turns – the spotter always has a big smile on his face. I am now looking to purchase 2 new PWC just for that purpose (I have three growing boys now) and I would NEVER consider any PWC with less than 200 HP. In my case, I will likely get the SD Wake Pro with 230 HP and a SD GTX 300 Limited with 300 HP. If money is not an issue – GET MORE HP – you will be happier in the end (IMO) and they tend to have higher resale values years later when they boost the HP levels on newer ones to absurd levels, like 400 or 500 HP (like 300 HP is not there already).
Hey Bubba Boy,
I’m think about getting a 2022 GTX230 with the plans of doing a lot of tow sports. Only reason I’m considering that and not a Wake Pro is that I can get a GTX 230 with all the wakeboard/ski accessories and get iDF for about the same price as a Wake Pro without iDF. Only concern is that the seats are different. Is a GTX seat still comfortable for the backward seated observer?
Hello, thanks for the post. I’m looking at a wake 155, but I’m about 220 LBS and the salesman said the seadoo would be swaying all over if I tried to wakeboard behind it. Is he just trying to up sell me? Do you think it could handle my weight fine?
It sounds like he’s upselling you. The WAKE Pro, the bigger WAKE, is only 62 pounds heavier and won’t make a difference in “swaying”. I’ve had people closer to 280 be pulled by the WAKE 155 without issues.