BOAT TEST: SLEEKLINE CX22
Sleekline’s new V8 muscle boat should turn a few heads among skiers and wakeboarders
TEST: SLEEKLINE CX22
As I think back about the Australian skiboat market in the '80s and '90s, I can only thank God that it seems to have settled down somewhat. Back then there was an amazing influx of would-be skiboat manufacturers, all copying or flopping each other's ideas and producing a range of boats, many of which varied enormously in performance and quality.
Melbourne's Tony Ellis (Sleekline Ski Boats) has stood almost alone through various market comings and goings in producing value-packed, quality skiboats. Tony began manufacturing as Sleekline in 1984 and has weathered the storm through the trials and tribulations of a constantly changing market. Few families in the Australian water skiing fraternity can claim such longevity.
Sleekline boats always look fresh and yes, sleek! The new CX22 is described as Sleekline's "crossover" boat, designed for both performance waterskiing and wakeboarding. This package is equally suited to tournament performance or social enjoyment, and it looks terrific. The demonstration boat had an optional enhanced graphic package that looked sensational, a three-quarter vinyl wrap that really accentuated the smooth, clean lines of the hull. I call it graffiti with taste, while others might call it modern art. Either way, as I said, I reckon it looks terrific. Not too long ago a custom-graphic like this might have cost in excess of $10,000 by some of our top artists. Nowadays it can be merely hundreds.
NOW THE DETAILS
The Sleekline CX22 is a 22ft mid-mount bowrider fitted with a 320hp PCM 5.7lt V8, driving through a 1:1 gearbox with forward, neutral and reverse. Thankfully the old days of direct-drive and single gear dog clutches are over. We've all matured with technology, haven't we?
Well, maybe not. A boat like this will still bring out the adolescent in all of us. Boys and their toys, as they say. Maybe so, but fun is fun at whatever age, and this is a fun boat.
Being a big bloke I often dread jumping into the driver's seat in mid-mount skiboats but I got a nice surprise with the Sleekline. The driving position is comfortable even for long legs. Our test boat was fitted with an optional foot throttle that I must admit took a little getting used to again. I can't say I have a personal preference for a foot or a traditional hand throttle; it's purely open to personal taste.
The driver's seat is an upholstered shell-style with an adjustable bolster and slide. The wraparound dashboard is simple and stylish, allowing great visibility of the three Faria analogue and digital gauges with polished stainless bezels. The Autotecnica stainless and leather steering wheel has a definite Italian Monza flavour and a very sporty feel.
The dashboard also features a Fusion sound system, key-start, and a waterproof switch panel. Visibility for the driver is very good, although I did experience some wind in my hair at speed over the top of the aluminium-framed, Perspex windscreen.
To be critical, I didn't like the feel of the gear selector. There's a lot of travel in the stick, and position control is not immediately positive. I also found the foot throttle to be much too critical when slowing down. Both these problems are easily rectified by cable adjustment and return spring-control and I'm sure Tony has already given that due consideration.
The Sleekline comes out of the hole very quickly under power with very little bow lift, as you'd expect in a mid-mount. At speed with two passengers the boat feels great and turns well. At 30kts (55kmh) it really gets humping and is doing exactly what it's designed for - da boogie!
Fast skiing is well catered for at an economical 34kts (63kmh) at 3500rpm and an exhilarating 37.5kts (70kmh) at 4000rpm. Wide Open Throttle produced 42kts (78kmh) at 4700rpm on the carburetted engine. The optional PCM Excalibur EX-330 engine with multi-point injection should easily achieve the benchmark 50mph (80kmh) but in my opinion the carburetted engine performs just fine.
The hull is a variable deadrise formula with two full-length strakes per side and reverse chines. There's very little hull noise, even when crossing wakes, and the engine gives a nice throaty V8 note that tickles the testosterone. Its performance is exciting, yet well harnessed and predictable.
The bowrider area is also a terrific boarding platform. It provides a welcome step and carpeted walkway for access from the bow. This is a much better idea than scrambling over beautiful upholstery with wet, sandy or muddy feet. The guys at Sleekline are the first to recognise that the bow area provides access as a priority, and a forward seating area secondary.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to try the hull with passengers seated in the bowrider so I can't comment on its loaded performance. However, we did get a little water over the nose while crossing a wake at low speeds so it's probably worth testing this aspect of performance with the full family prior to purchase. The Vee bottom gave more angle and less manoeuvrability at low speeds than many comparable skiboats.
Floodable ballast is an option for wakeboarders, but the Sleekline is quite suitable for intermediate wakeboarding in its standard format. Wake-plates are also available as an option, yet Tony says they're not usually required for the average boarder. Remember, this is an economy-minded, family oriented crossover boat that'll perform admirably in both ski and wake worlds.
The interior is traditional, yet surprisingly roomy for a mid-mount. The rear-facing passenger seat is comfortable, and the removable backrest reveals quite a large skilocker. Simple things can really make the difference in boats, and Sleekline has provided a handy recess on the passenger dash for all those small items like telephones, glasses, watches, and so on. The interior trim looks great with a fully carpeted floor, upholstered enginebox, padded combings, and full-length sidepockets.
The rear lounge is very comfortable too and the upholstery throughout the boat is very good. The driver's seat and rear lounge have individual fibreglass support frames to ensure longevity, and under the lounge is another wet-box, with drinkholders to the sides. The upholstered top of the rear skilocker not only provides a great launching area for watersports, but doubles as a small sunlounge.
The boat looks as good from the rear as it does from the front. A large moulded fibreglass transom-platform is a launching pad for fun in the water. It's carpet-lined and embossed with "CX22" while just above the platform we find attractive "Sleekline" decals, as well as stainless handles and a ski tow-point.
Sleekline has been working with Fluid Core to perfect a simple, functional and attractive wakeboard tower/bimini combination. It would be a recommended option on my order sheet. Board-racks, tower-speakers and all the other expensive options are up to the buyer, but obviously the more options, the higher the price.
Overall, the Sleekline CX22 offers the family great value for money. It doesn't have many of the refinements of some current offerings, but then again it doesn't have the price either.
ON THE PLANE
Colour scheme and wrap
Simple, effective wake tower
Value for money
Reasonably comfortable helm
Simple, effective dashboard
SANK LKE A BRICK
Wind in hair over windscreen
Low speed manoeuvrability
Didn't test with weight in bow
Specifications: Sleekline CX22
Price as tested: $46,400
Options fitted: Fluid Core Tower with bimini, custom-wrap graphics, stereo, mag wheels
Priced from: $41,000
Type: Monohull wakeboard/skiboat
Length (overall): 6.6m
Weight: 1200kg (boat only); Approx. 1630kg (package weight with trailer)
Rec. min. HP: 320
Rec. max. HP: 410
Make/Model: PCM 5.7lt naturally aspirated V8 marine engine
Gearbox: PCM gearbox with forward, neutral and reverse
Rated HP: 320
Weight: Approx 400kg
Gearbox ratio: 1:1
Propeller: Acme 13/13
SUPPLIED & MANUFACTURED BY
Coolaroo, Vic, 3062
Phone: (03) 9302 2173
Originally published in TrailerBoat 256.
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