By: Ben Wilson

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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How much fun and performance can you pack into the one skiboat? Heaps, says Ben Wilson, from behind the wheel of the stylish new Spy XS22.




Spy Boats, a collaboration between veteran skiboat specialist Performance Marine and industry heavyweight, the Whittley Marine Group, first plunged into the Australian market in July 2007, and within its first year it had won the AMIF (Australian Marine Industries Federation) "Ski Boat of the Year" award. This was the third time Performance Marine had scooped the accolade, having also won it in 2000 and 2003.

Whittley manufactures the fully Australian-designed and built hulls for Spy Boats, while the expert team at Performance Marine completes the fitout to each customer's preferences.

After a long, cold and dreary southern Australian winter, our intrepid band of writers, photographers, skiers and wakeboarders arrived at Victoria's Lake Eildon on a fine spring day to put the Spy XS22 through its paces. Finally - a great day for skiboat testing.

We got our first view of the mid-mount Spy XS22 from a distance, as it thundered towards us from across the lake. The new model is based on the popular Spy XS21, but it's a bit longer, with more cockpit room and a longer open bow.

When the boat finally arrived at the dock its interior looked every bit as good as the sporty, new-age exterior - which is another way of saying that it looked sensational. The interior design is plush, functional and comfortable, serving as a perfect backdrop to the fun and excitement that lies at the heart of a boat like this.

On the water we quickly discovered the Spy XS22 had superb handling and excellent tracking characteristics. Designer Peter Webb from Spy Boats has worked for many years to perfect his boat's handling, to the point where you can take your hands off the steering wheel while it continues on, straight as an arrow (of course doing that is not recommended).

There are three engine options: the 315hp Competition Ski 5.7lt, the 330hp Black Scorpion 5.7lt, and a 340hp Black Scorpion. Our test boat was fitted with the 315hp package and I felt it lacked just a little in top speed. If you're after more top end then Spy dealers can tweak the propeller to your requirements, or you can opt up to a Black Scorpion. The XS22 has a lowered shaft angle to help the boat jump on the plane even faster as it charges out of the hole.

Importantly, its wake is most impressive for slalom skiing. It has a flat table-top wash with a soft peak on each side, and it's very, very smooth to ski through. I was surprised to see that by combining a small tweak to the trim on the rear cav-plate, and simultaneously slowing down the boat's speed, we saw a beautiful wall of water unfurl behind us, creating a sensational wave for wakeboarding.




The XS22 is loaded with the standard comfort features you would expect from a premium skiboat manufacturer - recessed cupholders, speakers throughout, LED interior lights, navigation lights, auto bilgepump, and horn.

The helm has the attributes of a modern sports machine with a beautifully presented dash and comfortable thick upholstery. Little things like the armrest next to the throttle speak volumes about the boat's comfort over long days on the water, and the driver's seat not only swivels but has plenty of legroom. A large curved glass windscreen keeps the wind out of the driver's face while providing maximum visibility. There's more than enough room to store lots of ski gear too, with a very large rear locker, storage under the seats and even more under the floor.

There's plenty of room in this boat for all the family and friends, with a large rear seat and a spacious open bow creating a maximum capacity of 10 passengers. The boat has a large fibreglass boarding platform and there are also two stainless steel handles fixed to the rear, making it easy for skiers to pull themselves aboard.




Peter Webb strives to build boats with exceptional handling and performance. He has spent years testing and designing each new Spy boat before it's released onto the market, and this commitment shows in the XS22. This new Spy slices through oncoming wakes with supreme ease and without any rattles or vibration in the hull, and the steering is light and responsive.

The overall performance is first class and will please anyone looking for an all-round ski/wake crossover boat right through to performance skiers or funky wakeboarders. You feel safe even with a relative novice behind the wheel, but you can certainly blow out those winter cobwebs once you open her up - this is one very impressive Spy!

The team at Spy Boats has done a great job. I was impressed to see a 22ft crossover boat handle as well as it did, while still maintaining a great ski and wakeboarding wash. Much thought has gone into its design and build and it shows in its handling and performance. This is a good all-round family boat, and at a more than reasonable price.



On the plane...

Quality construction

Plenty of creature comforts

A package to please the broad spectrum of buyers



Dragging the chain...

Base engine lacks a little
in top speed






Specifications: Spy XS22




Priced from: $62,900

Options fitted: Bullet tower, bimini canopy, Clarion stereo, stainless steel cleats, adjustable wake control

Priced as tested: $68,900




Type: Mid-mount skiboat

Length (overall): 6.7m

Beam: 2.49m

Weight (towing): 1920kg




Fuel: 120lt

People: 10

Rec Min HP: 315

Rec Max HP: 400




Make/module: MerCruiser 350 MPI

Rated HP: 315

Gearbox ratio: 1.1:1




Spy Boats

70 Northgate Drive

Thomastown, Vic, 3074

Tel: (03) 9465 4555





Performance Marine

70 Northgate Drive

Thomastown, Vic, 3074

Tel: (03) 9465 4555





Originally published in TrailerBoat 263.



Find Spy boats for sale.


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