Bowrider Boats Guide

Bowrider boats are sporty, sleek, and designed for a good time. These party boats offer a lot of perks, along with plenty of different uses, but do you really know much about them? This guide will help you learn everything that you didn’t know about bowriders, including what they are, why they’re a great choice and which of your favorite brands make bowrider models.

16’ Bayliner Bowrider
16’ Bayliner Bowrider

What Are Bowrider Boats?

The bowrider was originally designed as a party boat, and every model lives to serve that purpose with open-bow seating and plenty of space to have a good time. These boats are ideal for everyone, from first-time boaters to seasoned vets, and can be used for all kinds of enjoyment, from cruising to watersports and more. A bowrider is typically equipped with a low-emission engine that offers plenty of performance without leaving a huge impact on the environment or your wallet.

The term “bowrider” refers to the general styling of the boat, which is usually accented by a deep V-shaped hull. These boats are characterized by open front seating as opposed to a cabin and a more open layout. There are a number of different styles and models on the market, however, and the configuration options and features are nearly endless. Whether you’re looking for your first weekend getaway boat that you can trailer to the lake or you want to trade in your old boat for something a little more fun, bowriders can deliver everything that you need.

Types of Bowriders

Early models of this boat were typically smaller in size, with an average length of 16-20 feet. Modern styles, however, have grown in size and standard features, offering options for a much wider audience than before. There are also various motor options for these boats, including outboard, inboard, jet drive, and stern drive motors. This results in more variations than you can probably keep track of but know that this just means that there’s a model out there just for you.

Traditional bowriders are 21 feet or less in length and feature the standard V-shaped hull with open bow seating. These boats are designed for small bodies of water, as their size doesn’t handle the conditions of rougher waters well. These boats typically feature dual captain’s chairs and a bench seat in the bow area, which may be L-shaped or U-shaped to maximize seating space. There is also a bench in the back on most models. Since traditional models are built for basic fun, the only other real difference between the models is the width of the boat.

Larger models are still available in the traditional class, including models up to 35 feet long and nearly 10 feet wide. The larger the bowrider model, the more options you have for layout and design. These larger boats may also have less pointed hulls and offer additional features, like electric or convertible seating, wakeboard towers, and more. Keep in mind that in most states, it’s only legal to trailer and haul a boat up to 8 feet 6 inches, so you might need to obtain a special permit if you choose a wider bowrider model.

Mid-Cabin Bowriders are a newer model on the market, offering a sort-of boat hybrid. These boats still offer the bow seating that the style is known for, but they also have a cabin with a variety of amenities, including a sleeping berth. Cabins can also be outfitted with climate control, TV, and more.

Bowriders are available that are designed specifically for skiing and fishing, which offer removable and convertible seats that become fishing chairs. They also have trolling motors and other fishing essentials, with a small size that’s still comfortable for the whole family. For those who enjoy fishing and other pleasures, this is a good choice.

The deck boat is another hybrid style of bowrider that is available. Although similar to a traditional model, the deck boat also features a front end that is much wider and many other features that you would expect to find on a pontoon boat. There are various models within this class, including your choice of sizes.

Perhaps the most popular bowrider on the market right now is the jet boat. These look and feel like traditional bowriders, but they have many advantages over the original stern drive option. The jet engine leaves more room for extra seating, offers powerful performance, and provides safer operation with no need for a prop. Plus, they have a great turning radius and top-rate acceleration.

Advantages of Bowriders

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, there are a number of advantages to choosing a bowrider as your next boat. Here are a few of the highlights to keep in mind:

Seating: Perhaps the biggest benefit of the bowrider model is the ample seating. Even the smallest models were designed to accommodate more people, so their design will focus on maximum seating above all else.

Plenty of Uses: These boats are loved for their versatility. They are great for everything from cruising and fishing to watersports and more. Despite their smaller size, their capable engine options can tow tubes and water skiers and leave plenty of room for all of your friends.

Inboard/Outboard and Other Motor Options: The traditional I/O (stern drive) motor that comes with the bowrider is great for creating big wakes. However, many people are upgrading to outboard or jet drive motors for bigger bodies of water or better performance. The advantage here is that there is a motor to suit every need.
Multiple Sizes: As mentioned earlier, bowriders are available in sizes ranging from 16 feet all the way up to 30 feet or more. There are small boats for individuals, larger boats for families, and even party-size bowriders that have plenty of room for everyone.

Ski, Deck, and Other Styles: A bowrider is a versatile boat. Because of the popularity of the basic style, models are now available that are specifically designed for watersports, cruising, and other specific needs. Remember the “hybrid” styles we talked about earlier? These boats can basically be whatever you want.

Disadvantages of Bowrider Boats

As long as you purchase a bowrider with the intention to use it for cruising and entertaining, you won’t be disappointed. With that said, there are a few drawbacks to this particular model:

If you choose the widest models (nearly 10 feet wide), you may need special permits or have trouble trailering and hauling your boat to the water. If nothing else, most states limit trailer widths to about eight and a half feet.
Bowriders aren’t designed for long trips or a lot of overnight use. While some newer luxury models include mid-cabins and full beam cabins, this isn’t common. These are day cruisers, after all.

Most bowrider models under 26 feet will struggle with the choppy, rough waters outside of a smaller lake or body of water. If you want a bowrider that can cruise the seas, consider a larger model for a safer, more comfortable ride.
The majority of models have plenty of tech features and entertainment options packages, but their big focus is seating. If you want a boat with roaming room or prefer the bow sundeck to a seating area, this might not be the right style for you.

For the most part, just about anyone can have a good time with a bowrider. So long as you’re not looking for a fully-equipped luxury yacht, this style of personal pleasure boat can deliver plenty of enjoyment. No matter your intended use, there are styles for every hobby and every budget.

Bowrider Brands and Manufacturers

To preface this section and save a lot of extra reading, you should know that just about every manufacturer offers their own style of bowriders. From Bayliner to Yamaha, more than 40 boat manufacturers have created their own bowrider models. Although the styling and size are similar, each brand has its own features and benefits to consider. Here are some of the most popular bowrider styles on the market today.

Bayliner

Bayliner is a leader in the boat world, and there’s a reason that you see them almost everywhere you go. What’s more is that they’ve pretty much mastered the bowrider, offering plenty of power and plenty of entertaining space for the perfect day on the water. Some models include larger seating areas or different motor sizes, but there is something for just about everyone.

Chaparral

The Chaparral line of bowriders offers comfortable seating and plenty of storage space. Plus, they offer a sport model that puts the power in any excursion. These boats are all about making room for more fun without compromising power. Plus, many models can be outfitted with optional accessories for even more fun. Chaparral has some of the most popular models on the market today.

Sea Ray

Sea Ray has been a popular name in boating for decades. Their contribution to the bowrider market is a wider bow design that allows for roomier space and extra seating. Many models even offer integrated platforms for swimming, convertible seating, and optional Bluetooth stereos. Top-of-the-line models offer an options list longer than many other manufacturers, making these a good balance between a comfortable size (usually 22-24 feet) and all the creature comforts you could ask for.

Monterey

Monterey offers a smaller model of bowrider that focuses on premium layouts and features. These boats include features like wraparound cockpit seating, larger sunpads, optional high-end stereos, and bi-level swim platforms for easy entry and exit when it’s time to get in the water. This is a brand that looks as good sitting in the slip as it does out on the water, and it’s sure to turn heads.

A Closer Look at Bowrider Boats

Who knew there was so much to learn about bowrider boats? This unique style is so popular that it has been evolved over the years and is now available in a variety of models and with various layouts, offering the perfect combination boat for everyday use, first time boaters, and even the more experienced who want a simple, sporty, comfortable boat for cruising, entertaining, and more.

Longest Models

As mentioned earlier, some bowrider models can measure up to 35 feet in length, offering the ultimate in luxury boating for people that want more than a traditional 16-22 foot boat. Although these boats aren’t necessarily about size, if bigger is what you want, these models all measure 33-35 feet in length:

1. Sea Ray SLX 350, with seating for 18-20 people and a standard hard-top with an optional sunroof and plenty of other options
2. Four Winns H350, with a standard sunroof and a 35-foot length, offering seating for around 20 and optional twin stern drives
3. Chaparral 337 SSX, which features convertible seating, a full-beam cabin, and standard twin 300 horsepower engines
4. Cruisers Yachts 338 Bow Rider, which features a mid-cabin and digital steering controls, along with many other optional comforts and features

Fastest Models

By and large, the fastest bowriders are those equipped with jet drive engines, also commonly referred to as jet boats or sport boats. These models include plenty of standard high-tech equipment and even have computer systems that offer watersports assistance. Other motor options will get the job done for a nice family cruise or a lazy fishing day, but when you want power, a jet boat is the best choice. Models from Regal and Four Winns are known to top 60 mph.

In Summary

There is a lot more information about bowriders still to learn. However, this guide can at least provide you with the basics to help you better understand these boats and what they have to offer. If you’re in the market for a sporty, spacious, everyday pleasure boat, the bowrider style might be just what you need.

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