Can You Water Ski Behind a Pontoon Boat?

Can you water ski behind a pontoon boat We put it to the test

 Skiing Behind a Pontoon Boat – We Tested It, and the Answer is Surprising

Pontoon boats are great boats in terms of versatility. These boats can be used for several activities, such as fishing, cruising, and more.

Knowing how versatile they are, you might wonder whether you can also use them for water skiing.

Can you ski behind a pontoon boat? You can ski behind a pontoon boat as long as your pontoon has a horsepower of at least 70. You might not have the same experience on a regular boat, but water skiing is totally possible behind a pontoon boat.

Using a pontoon boat is better for water skiers who are skiing for fun. For more competitive skiers, it is advised to buy or rent a ski boat. If you want to learn more about pontoon boats and water skiing, keep reading.

Can You Ski Behind a Pontoon Boat?

As mentioned earlier, you can ski behind a pontoon boat as long as it has a minimum of 70 horsepower. Anything below 70 horsepower would work great for other activities, such as fishing or cruising, but not water skiing.

You need more than 70 horsepower to water ski because the average adult weighs between 130 and 220 lbs, and the least amount of horsepower that can carry that much weight is 70.

Therefore, it is recommended to use even higher horsepower, preferably 90.

With 90 horsepower, you can have a group of people on your pontoon boat while towing someone behind it for water skiing. It is also safe to use slalom skis with this horsepower as well as combo or trainer skis.

How Fast Do You Need to Go for Water Skiing?

Typically, for water skiing behind a pontoon boat, you would need to go at least 16 mph. This speed might be too slow to do anything challenging while water skiing, but it’s good enough for slowly dragging someone out of the water. The water skier’s body would still be half underwater.

There are different speeds you would need for slalom skiing compared to other types of skiing. For example, for slalom skiing, you need about 25 to 34mph, but if two skiers are behind your boat, you will need to go at about 20 to 34mph.

The one thing you need to remember if you are towing a water skier behind your pontoon boat is to know what the skier enjoys more. Some water skiers enjoy going slowly and enjoying the scenery, while others prefer to go faster.

How Much Horsepower Do You Need to Tow a Water Skier?

You can go at three general speeds while towing someone behind your pontoon boat if it allows it. The general three speeds are 70, 90, and 115 horsepower.

Each pontoon contains different engine powers, but your pontoon boat must have at least 70 horsepower.

Is 70 Horsepower enough power for water skiing?

At 70 horsepower, you are able to tow water skiers, but they might not be able to do any tricks or jumps. They are only able to do very basic moves.

This horsepower works great for people who want to ski slowly and enjoy the scenery or beginner water skiers.

Is 90 Horsepower enough power for water skiing?

With an engine of 90 horsepower, you can ski normally, it still might be a little slow, but it can make your water skiers go faster behind your pontoon boat.

If your boat has a group of people, it might feel a little sluggish, but it still works fine for water skiing.

Is 115 Horsepower enough power for water skiing?

With 115 horsepower, you should be able to tow water skiers easily, regardless of the number of people on your pontoon.

This horsepower gives water skiers more flexibility and speed, allowing them to do more tricks and jumps. It also allows skiers to be dragged from the water with ease.

Pontoon Boats Are Not Ski Boats

Pontoon boats and ski boats are different, especially when it comes to water skiing. Many beginner water skiers do not notice the difference between the two, but experienced skiers do.

One of the main differences between the two is the shape of the wake.

The shape of the wake of a pontoon boat is different from that of a regular boat, which means that you will have less rough water while skiing, and you might not be able to go as fast as you would on a regular boat while water skiing.

There are some limitations to skiing behind a pontoon boat compared to a ski boat. We’ll break them down in more detail.

Limitations of Skiing Behind a Pontoon Boat

There are two main limitations when it comes to skiing behind a pontoon boat, especially for water skiers who ski regularly and are more experienced.

Those two limitations include the shape of the wake and the pontoon boat not being as maneuverable, as we mentioned earlier.

1. Wake Shape

The wake shape of a regular ski boat is usually V-shaped and has more of a humped shape compared to a pontoon boat.

With a pontoon boat, you get a wake from the prop and two other smaller wakes for metal pontoons.

This wide shape of the wake is unusual and contains less of a hump in the middle. This can affect your water skiing experience because it makes it harder for air to be caught behind the pontoon boat, regardless of the speed.

2. Maneuverability

You might have limited maneuverability with pontoon boats, and the reason for that is that these boats contain a wide turning radius.

This might not be a problem for beginner water skiers, but more experienced water skiers prefer sharp turns.

Pontoon Boats VS. Ski Boats

There are more differences between pontoon boats and ski boats. Both boats are similar in the fact that they can be used for water skiing successfully; however, you are going to have two different experiences on both boats.

Let’s review these differences in more detail.

1. Size

The size of both of these boats is probably the most visually obvious difference between the two.

Pontoon boats are usually from 18 to 25 feet long. The average-sized pontoon boat is about 22 feet long. You can get a small, medium, or large pontoon, depending on your preference.

Ski boats are not far off from pontoons, ranging from 20 to 22 feet on average. You can usually find different sizes for ski boats as well. Their sizes are more consistent than those of pontoon boats, however.

2. Speed

Speed is another important aspect that makes a difference when it comes to water skiing.

On pontoon boats, you can go from 28 to 35 mph, while on ski boats, you can go as fast as 120 mph. This incredible speed difference is what entices experienced water skiers to go for ski boats instead of pontoons.

3. Design

The design of the two boats might also be an obvious visual factor that makes both these boats so different.

Pontoon boats are usually made using abrasion-resistant PVC, steel, and nylon mixed with aluminum and steel. As a result, they are sturdy, long-lasting, and very well manufactured.

Ski boats, on the other hand, come in a deep-V hull shape and have a stern design. This V-shaped hull lets your boat cut through the water smoothly and effortlessly, which is something you do not get out of pontoon boats. It also ensures that your water skiers will not fall off.

4. Space

Pontoon boats have larger space than ski boats do. You can pack a huge amount of blankets, clothes, food, and other times and not have to worry too much about space.

Ski boats, on the other hand, are about half as big on the inside as pontoon boats are. You can still fit up to 10 people on your ski boat, but there would not be room for much else. Ski boats are only typically used to tow water skiers.

5. Versatility

We spoke about how pontoon boats are so versatile earlier. You can do so much on pontoon boats, such as tubing, cruising, lounging, fishing, water skiing, and so much more. You can even mount rod holders, LED lights, and speakers to your pontoon boats.

There are also several other activities that you can do on your pontoon with ease and comfort, whether that be inside the actual pontoon boat or outside. For example, people usually host parties, watch movies, and lounge around while others enjoy water activities.

Water skis are not as big as pontoon boats; however, you can do about as many of the same activities as you can with a pontoon boat if you have fewer people on your boat. It is important to be mindful of what you can do with the space you have on a ski boat.

6. Price

The price of these two types of boats also varies massively.

Pontoon boats are less expensive than ski boats, costing somewhere between $18,000 and can go up to $60,000. This price might change depending on the size and materials of the pontoon boat of your choice.

Ski boats, however, cost a bit more than pontoon boats. Ski boats can range anywhere between $35,000 to as high as $200,000. They cost more because of the materials they are made of. That, and boats dedicated to water sports usually cost more than regular boats.

7. Maintenance

Boat owners might be the ones that are more concerned about maintenance.

Luckily, if you own a pontoon boat, you will not have to worry too much about maintenance. These boats are sturdy and durable and require little attention. They are also incredibly long-lasting.

Ski boats are usually made of fiberglass, which means they are more delicate than pontoon boats. Therefore, you might need to give your ski boat a little extra time and care. It is recommended to do regular checkups on your ski boat just to make sure that everything is running accordingly.

8. Durability

Durability might be an important aspect when water skiing, depending on how often you use it. Pontoon boats are extremely durable and can last up to 12 years, at least. These boats are so durable because they are used for many purposes.

Ski boats are less durable than pontoon boats and need to be replaced every couple of years. Their materials are sturdy and long-lasting, but they will be outlived by many pontoon boats. That doesn’t mean that ski boats are not as good; it only means that they might need replacing more frequently.

How to Pull a Water Skier Behind a Pontoon Boat

Pulling water skiers from a pontoon boat can be challenging.

If your pontoon boat has low power, it can make this process even harder. This is why every pontoon boat needs at least 70 horsepower.

Pulling skiers out of the water is also hard on the water skier, especially if they are new to skiing. Many beginner skiers struggle to keep their legs bent when their skis are pointing forward.

To successfully pull water skiers out of the water from a pontoon boat, the first thing you need to keep in mind is to take your time and be patient.

Water skiers need to keep their knees bent and have their legs pressed against their chests. They should then keep this position until they are out of the water.

Water skiers have much more stability by keeping their legs pressed tightly to their bodies. This helps boats tremendously because they can keep moving forward with ease. It’s also easier to do this underwater without water washing against you, saving you a lot of energy.

Standing up too soon while using a pontoon boat can make your skis sink into the water. This can also lead to you flying over your skis as you will lose stability and control. It is important to listen to the boater’s advice before you start skiing.

Professional boaters will advise water skiers to stay in a tuck position until they are on top of the water. It is also advised not to stand up on their skis until they have gone about 100 yards. Pulling water skiers out of the water can be quite easy as long as they stick to the instructions given.


To sum everything up, you can use pontoon boats to water ski. It might not be as adventurous or exciting, but it is perfect for people who like going slowly.

However, using pontoon boats to learn how to water ski might not be the best idea. Pontoon boats are best used for weekend water skiing.

It is still very possible for you to water ski behind a pontoon boat; you might even enjoy it more than water skiing on a ski boat. The most important thing to keep in mind is to stay safe and enjoy your water skiing trip.

Related Questions

Can You Ski Behind Any Boat?

You can ski behind almost any type of boat as long as they contain a high enough speed to tow water skiers. Skiing on two skis is even easier because you do not need that much speed. You’ll only need about 25 mph while using two water skis. Pulling a person on a slalom ski will require more power.

Can You Take a Pontoon Boat Out in the Ocean?

You can take your pontoon boat out in the ocean since pontoon boats are usually very sturdy and durable. Manitou pontoon boats, in particular, are great for saltwater thanks to their V-Toon technology. They can handle larger bodies of water, such as the ocean and many other bodies of water.

Can I Learn Water Skiing at 40?

You can easily learn how to water ski at 40 or even above. You might even have better luck learning when you are 40 or above because you are then mature enough to get the most out of water skiing. It is advised to be in relatively good shape when learning water skiing.


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