Supra Boats is a brand of wake and towboats. They are marketed as an upper-tier luxury line of boats.
How do they stack up against the competition in the crowded water sports boat market?
Here’s How Good Supra Boats Are:
Supra Boats is a high-end manufacturer of wake and towboats that has acquired a reputation for outstanding construction from stem to stern. They produce superior wakes for water sports. Supra boats are considered some of the best wake boats being made. They have earned many industry awards, too.
A Brief History Of Supra Boats
George Fowler had been in the boating business since he and Rob Shirley had started MasterCraft in 1968.
In 1980, Fowler left MasterCraft and began his line of ski boats, calling it Supra Boats. The first model was known as the Supra, and it debuted in 1981.
He began the company in Greenback, Tennessee, and later in the 1980s, as the brand experienced success, he moved it to a larger factory in Maryville, Tennessee.
In 1983 the company introduced the first open bow inboard ski boat, which revolutionized the design of water sports boats and became the standard of ski and later wake sports boats.
The emphasis on quality construction and luxurious interiors began early for the brand and was accentuated when sold to private investors in 1990. At this time, the new owners started up the Moomba brand; Supra would be the high-end models, and Moomba would be an entry and mid-tier brand.
With the rise of wake sports in the 1990s, both brands focused on these newer sports of wakeboarding and wake surfing.
In 1999, the brands were sold to private investors again, including some ex-employees of MasterCraft, and then created the parent brand of Skier’s Choice.
With the continued evolution of wake sports, Supra made those the company’s focus more and more. Their focus was on high-end construction and luxury as well as performance.
Supra Boats are still being made today in Maryville, Tennessee, in the same plant as Moomba, and Skier’s Choice still owns the brand.
How Reliable Are Supra Boats?
The reliability of any wake sports boat is judged by the quality of the wave it generates. Each brand establishes its own patented technology to make the best waves possible.
Supra has several such technologies. The best and most unique is the Autowake.
The Autowake is an automatic system that shifts ballast in the boat as needed, saving the inconvenience of moving people around to distribute the weight. It is automatically handled as water ballast is shifted around the interior tanks to compensate.
The system senses the pitch and roll of the boat and, based on the desired shape of the wave, automatically adjusts the ballast to get the desired amplitude of the waves.
The other technologies that Supra employs are the Smartplate, a centrally located plate in the stern that controls hull position in the water, and the Swell 3.0 Surf System, which delivers tall waves with deep pockets.
There are many favorable reviews and videos of the wakes that Supra boats produce; they are easy to find online. But the sometimes adversarial forums are a good place to gain a better perspective, as the comments are not favorable.
The majority of forum posts regarding the waves that Supra boats generate are positive.
There is usually a lively debate about the best waves, but it is not uncommon to see an owner comment, as this one did in 2016:
“I currently have a 2016 SE450, and we had a 2014 G23 before it…I know our SE puts up a much better surf wave than our ’14 G23 ever did. The wave is longer and has way more push…The SE also drives way better and handles rough water better too…The Supra cruises in a perfectly straight line while pulling a surfer…”
[Source: Wake World]
This detailed post captures many of the specific factors that go into making Supra’s waves.
How Durable Are Supra Boats?
Part of the premium nature of Supra Boats is the use of high-quality materials in the manufacturing process.
This is the case with the composites used on the hull, stringer system, and deck and the material used on the interior.
The vinyl used in the interior has the highest UV and mildew resistance. The vinyl used on the seat, Chill Tech, keeps the seats cooler when exposed to the hot sun. Seams are double-stitched with UV-resistant thread.
While the hulls of Supra and the sister brand Moomba are the same, the interior is where they differ and where Supra’s emphasis on luxury comes into play. This also applies to the electronics and the metals used.
Online searches reveal very few complaints about the durability of a Supra boat, in particular nothing about hull failures, cracks, or delamination.
What About Older Supra Boats?
High-quality manufacturing has been a hallmark for Supra Boats since it was founded in 1980.
There are few complaints about older models of Supras, and most of these are typical of older boats, such as spider cracks in the gel coat and around the stanchions.
The main difference in older Supras from more recent models is the focus. Originally, the boats were designed solely for water skiing, and similar towed water sports, as wake sports had yet to emerge.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the focus gradually changed for the brand until wake boats dominated the models. So if you are looking at purchasing an older Supra boat, you must know if it was built to generate waves or to tow a skier.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
There is no indication on Supra Boats’ website on how many model years they stock replacement parts. Instead, an owner searching for a replacement part is directed to contact their local dealer. The dealer may or may not be able to provide the desired part.
The best resource for finding replacement parts for the brand would be the Supra Boats owners’ forum at forum.supraboats.com. There are many threads from owners who have searched for difficult replacement parts and met with success.
Another good source for Supra replacement parts would be activewake.com, which specifically carries inventories of replacement parts for wake boats.
There are also traditional online sources such as greatlakesskipper.com and boatseabass.com.
What Are Typical Problems With Supra Boats?
Online searches reveal some problems that individual owners have had with some models of Supra Boats, but there are few of these problems that would be categorized as typical as they are all so disparate.
That being said, some owners of models in the mid-2000s reported having some vapor lock problems. Interestingly, some of the Moomba owners of boats from this time reported the same problem. However, in all cases identified, the customer service worked with the owner to their satisfaction.
Occasionally, there are some problems reported with electronics or the electrical system. These have included a faulty touch screen for wave control, some bilge pump problems, blower problems, and blown fuses.
There have only been a few instances of each of these reported across multiple forums, so it is hard to characterize any of them as typical. They seem to be the occasional problems that can occur to any boat brand.
The same is true of the scattered reports of engine issues: they are all different and seem to have been handled to the owner’s satisfaction by the company.
How Long Do Supra Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Supra Boats is often compared to other high-end brands like Centurion and MasterCraft. All three brands have dedicated partisans online, but it is possible to find some relatively objective commentary on a few forums.
The bottom line is that all boats at this manufacturing tier are built to last. There is no clear winner among the top-competing brands regarding durability; they are all tough.
It is fair to say that a Supra boat will last every bit as long as a model from a comparable brand.
That being said, owners must maintain these boats properly. Even the best-built boat will degrade if not cared for, such as being properly winterized.
Do Supra Boats Hold Their Value?
Boat value is difficult to answer using the standard internet pricing resource, the NADA guide. There are two reasons for this.
First, that website uses data provided by dealers who resold older models. This price does not reflect what they paid the previous owner, only what it resold for. Private sales are not reflected, either. So this tends to inflate the prices provided on many models.
Secondly, smaller and less common brands such as Supra tend to show a higher resale value due to their rarity. There are fewer resales, so their apparent value is higher than other brands with more numerous models available.
As an example, a 2015 Supra SE450 had a retail price of $115,600 the year that it came out. Currently, the NADA guide shows that model with an average resale value of $125,410.
The overwhelming majority of boats depreciate, rather than appreciate, even the less common brands. So owners must take these values with a heavy grain of salt.
Some websites provide data on the prices used boats have sold for, like ABOS and BoatWizard. But these are pay sites and usually include data from brokers as well. One free site that has limited data is soldboatprice.com.
That boat happens to list a 2014 SA350 that sold recently for $75,000. The NADA guide for that boat lists the current resale value as $111,880 from an original retail price of $103,830, so this is reflective of the discrepancy talked about above.
In these cases, it is probably most instructive to search forums to find out what people have bought and sold their boats for.
Based on several forum posts, coupled with the above data, a 20-25% depreciation might be expected after about 5 or so years, which is average for a well-constructed higher-end boat.
Are Supra Boats Still Being Made?
Supra Boats are still being made in the Maryville, Tennessee factory that they have been in for over three decades now.
Supra currently offers 4 models of boats. These range in size and price from the 20’11 SR model starting at $127,600 on up to the 24’5″ SE model, which starts at $168,400.
There are options in colors, engines, and technology on each of their 4 models.