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Even if you just wakeboard or waterski on the weekends, that doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two from the pros. Professional athletes hit the water each year at a variety of national and international events earning thousands of dollars in prize money. It's at these competitions that you can see records being broken and awards being handed out. The other benefit to keeping tabs on these events is to find out which boats are performing best in each sport. Boat manufacturers are especially interested in seeing their latest designs break records or receive accolades.
There are some boat manufacturers who hire professional boat athletes to test out their latest boat designs to ensure they handle efficiently and are innovative enough for a discriminating clientele. This can be more reassuring for the boat buyer if they hear a particular boat was tested by their favorite boating athlete. Look for boat companies that not only tout their product's strengths, but are willing to admit its limitations. Boat companies that show you how the boat works, instead of just telling you about it tend to have stronger reputations.
Boat of the Year awards are prestigious honors that are given to boats based on performance, design, options, and other criteria. Boat of the Year awards are selected by a combined editorial team of writers from publications such as Motor Boats Monthly, Custom Yachting, and Motor Boat and Yachting. Boats are divided into categories and rated based on set criteria for each particular category. Other boating magazines also hand out accolades each year, including Hot Boat and Powerboat Magazine.