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Boat Horsepower: How Much is Needed to Pull a Rider?

When buying a boat for boating, one of the most important questions is the amount of horsepower your boat requires to tow you. Therefore, you choose your boat according to your need.

Many factors are responsible for the amount of horsepower a boat needs to tow the participant. Both the boat and the participant and the sporting activity you are involved in each contribute.

The boat, its size and weight, the load, the type of engine-inboard or outboard, the sport/activity you are involved in, and the weight and skill level of the person being towed behind the boat all influence horsepower requirements.

With 35 horsepower, you can tow a single tube. While a toddler can ski with 20 horsepower, a bigger adult requires at least 60 horsepower on a suitably sized boat. While you can wakeboard with a 25-horsepower boat, a good wake requires a 135-horsepower loaded boat. Keep reading to get full knowledge on this subject.

wakeboarding boat flying across the water with wakeboards stowed to show how much hp for wakeboarding

What is Horsepower?

The term horsepower is used to describe the amount of power produced by an engine used for all kinds of engines, including boat engines. The power determines the quantity of horsepower required to the weight ratio of the boat.

Horsepower requirements vary according to the size and weight of the boat and its load, the type of engine, the sport or activity you participate in, and the weight and level of expertise of the individual being hauled away behind the boat.

How much hp for wakeboarding?

Boat owners frequently suggest 90 HP for a 16′ boat as the lowest limit for serious boardercross wakeboarding on a fully loaded boat. 115 HP will suffice in most cases, whereas 75 HP may be insufficient.

Wakeboarders ride at a reduced speed of 16-19 mph. Deepwater starts don’t require much speed since wakeboard planes are well over the water like an airplane wing. A competent wakeboarder can typically try riding behind the aluminum Jon boat with just a 25 HP engine at a steady 16 mph.

In case somehow the rider has trouble standing up, try adjusting her so that she is not immediately behind the boat. Tighten the rope, and after that, try driving at an angle. This will allow the boat to pick up speed more quickly and then apply tension to the line to pull a wakeboarder out from the water.

A very small boat with a low horsepower rating will not produce a worthy wake. You can drive around to get a better view of your surroundings.

How much is needed to pull a rider?

Do you want to spend time on the lake with your friends and family? Are you hoping to get a boat capable of towing a rider? If yes, you will have to find the amount of horsepower a boat needs to tow a rider if that’s the case?

Speed is required for a boat to tow a Rider behind it. It would be best to have much horsepower inside the engine to get enough speed. If you want someone wakeboarding behind you, your boat should be moving at least 20 miles per hour and to be able to run at 26 to 27 miles an hour is even better for proper waterboardings.

A 70-hp engine will usually give sufficient energy to get you up on the waterboard. You’ll do much better with a 90 horsepower or higher engine. Recall that the higher you go over 90 horsepower, the more adventurous you’ll be able to be with whatever water sports you try.

A 135 HP engine containing six passengers has enough capacity to pull a wakeboarder away from the water and reach and maintain speed on a plane in 4 seconds. A collection of the trim stabilizing system can assist the boat in getting to a plane faster.

Methods For Determine How Much Horsepower

Various methods exist for determining how much horsepower you need to pull a rider.

Still, it would be helpful if you consider some important aspects such as the volume of the boat, the weight of the boat, manufacturer limits, the primary use of the boat, the number of people you intend to take on the boat, and so on.

Number of People On Board

However, the number of people on board your boat is to be considered. A boat with ten people on board and 90 horsepower will cause your boat to move slower than 90 horsepower only with two persons on board.   

Volume of boat

Another factor to consider is the volume or magnitude of the boat. A 90-horsepower engine can tow an 18-foot boat with a Rider behind it.

On the other hand, more horsepower is a positive idea if the boat is 25 feet long, but you still want to waterboard.

Size of the boat

The number of people you intend to carry on the boat will also affect the horsepower required because more people equals more weight.

A larger boat size with a powerful engine and propeller that sits deep down in the water, along with additional passenger weight and ballast, will also produce a large and efficient wake for a wakeboarder.

On the other hand, a very small-sized boat with a low horsepower rating will not produce a worthy wake. You can end up driving around to sail over your wake, allowing the wakeboarder to turn over the oncoming wake.

Manufacturer Limitation

Locate the volume plate or grab the manual to check the manufacturer’s limit. There ought to be a couple of lists with limitations you should not exceed for safety on the water.

You’ll also obtain the highest horsepower that your boat can manage while towing a ridder on these lists.

Primary Use Of Boat

The use of a boat is another important consideration. If you plan on sailing with friends and family, you won’t need much horsepower, but you’ll need more if you plan on pulling wakeboarders.

The more tools and boat weight added the more horsepower you’ll need to pull all that weight efficiently.

How Do You Determine Horsepower?

To comprehend how to calculate the boat’s horsepower, we must first discuss torque. Torque is a force that can turn round the body of the object to which it is applied.

In some cases, the propeller propels the boat. Torque is important in boat engines and is connected to horsepower. A dynamometer is required to connect the two.

This dynamometer can apply a load to the outboard engine motor and measure its power output. We can calculate the torque force once we know how much power there is.

To calculate horsepower, multiply torque by Revolutions per minute and split up the result by 5252. The resulting number is the horsepower’s gas engine.


Several small and lightweight boats may be capable of towing someone, but they could be harmed by the individual being pulled. For instance, if a wakeboarder tends to make a hard cut, the boat may slow down or even come to a complete stop.

The mass of the participant being towed and the persons inside the boat may play a significant role in how competently you can tow. If you don’t want to deal with this, acquire a horsepower rating that is strong enough to tow.