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How to Buy a Wakeboard Tower
It all started with the extended pylon. Wakeboarders needed a way to stay in the air longer, and the elevated tow point provided by the extended pylon meant they were no longer dragged down by the rope, which translated to more air time and trick proliferation. The extended pylon, however, went the way of the dodo as V-drives emerged and supplanted direct-drives as the wakeboarder's towboat of choice. That's when the wakeboard tower entered the scene, and now a wakeboard boat looks incomplete without one. Not only does a tower provide an elevated tow point, but the right tower can also complete the boat's on-water profile. In addition, it creates extra space in the boat by moving equipment off the floor and into board racks, and tower accessories like speakers, lights and a bimini enhance your on-water experience. Take a look at our boat buyer guide for information on purchasing a boat for wakeboarding.
OEM vs. Aftermarket
If you're buying a new boat, this is a nonissue. Almost every inboard on the market will have an option for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tower. When it comes to aftermarket towers, however, you have some decisions to make. In some cases, tower manufacturers make a tower specifically designed for your make and model of boat, and if available, this is a good option because it's purpose built for your boat.
There are also aftermarket towers that are either universal or custom made for your boat. Custom towers can usually be colour-matched to your boat and have a solid fit because they're tailored to your specific hull, but they cost more and take more time to build. Universal towers tend to cost less and are immediately available, but it's important to make sure they will mount properly to your boat. It's also important to make sure they have thick, quality tubing and strong welds.
Fixed vs. Collapsible
Next it's time to think about whether you want a fixed or collapsible tower. Fixed towers cost less, but unless you have a tall enough enclosure, you may have to cover your boat after every use and store it outside or at the end of a dock. Collapsible towers cost a little more, but they also offer more convenience. Before you invest in a collapsible tower, make sure you either collapse the tower yourself or watch a video on how it collapses so you know exactly what you're getting into. Take measurements of how low it collapses and whether it will fit in your garage, and take note of where it will sit on your boat when it's collapsed to make sure it's not too obtrusive or damaging. And finally, it can be handy to have a fold-assist function, which helps balance out the weight of the tower and all its accoutrements, especially when you're collapsing it solo.
Installation can be performed by a dealer or DIY. If you opt for the latter, remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions (don't pull inflatables from the tower!) and realize that the liability is on you. If you have an older boat, be sure the fibreglass is thick and strong enough to handle the torque of a tower. This is also a good time to look into the warranty and consider it in your final decision.
No tower is complete without some accessories. Sure, it was originally designed to pull riders, but your tower can do so much more than that. Board racks, speakers, lights and a bimini are all potential additions that enhance the boating experience. If you opt for board racks, consider a model that has a swivelling function — it may cost a little more but it makes the racks more convenient and functional. Before making any additions, remember to check the size of the tubing on the spot where you want to hang your tower accessories.
Once you have purchased your boat and tower have a look at some of these articles for more wakeboarding and boating tips!