By: JOHN WILLIS, Photography by: STU GRANT

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If there has ever been a boat that generates fun, excitement and power it is the 2009 series Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV! The US designed, Australian made Malibu boats hit the market in the mid nineties and took just about every river and impoundment by storm with their beautiful and versatile range of excitement machines that get the juices flowing, and the heart pounding.


The all-new 2009 model Malibu Wakesetter is the pacesetter for the world market, as well as being one hell of a big boy's toy. Wakesetters are not only terrific skiboats - they are also extremely versatile social boats. Luxurious, expansive and comfortable layouts ensure that it's not just the bloke at the end of the rope that's having all the fun.

Wakeboarding has seen a terrific rise in popularity in recent years and the all-new Wakesetter truly reflects that progression. The sport is just as popular at suburban beaches as it is on our inland waterways and hence, the designers at Malibu have moulded a package with true blue water capabilities.


We did our test on Victoria's Port Phillip Bay at Safety Beach on a beautiful sun-filled morning with some slight offshore wind. To guarantee we had some real action Australian wakeboard champion Chris O'Shea hitched a ride to give us a fine display of his stunt work, as well as his thoughts on the abilities of the Malibu package. Chris spends around nine months of the year on the lucrative and competitive USA wakeboard circuit for Team Malibu and is currently ranked number two in Australia.
Chris chooses Malibu as his number one choice of wakeboat in the world. The smile on his face says it all, especially when he's getting air on a massive stunt aerial.
This boat is in the elite class of products that are the best of their kind. Presentation is exceptional, the workmanship is superb, the component selection is premium and best of all, the Wakesetter has the power and performance to blow your socks off in both fresh and saltwater. The exterior gelcoat is vivid and rich, showing great flair.


At seven metres (23ft) long this is a big party starter. It is rated by the Americans at an unprecedented 14-adult passengers, albeit more than a little ambitious. The boat entices pure fun, whether actually skiing, wakeboarding or just having a ball with your family and friends.
The design and power carry the weight effortlessly, especially in the bowrider area where the full bow and large strakes supply exceptional lift and full control in turns.
The hull lines are timeless, yet more than a little unique. It combines some very traditional influences, the boldness of a large American convertible, and yet the handling capabilities of a Formula 1. There is minimal deadrise at the stern creating an almost flat transition to the plane, even when thundered into speed by the optional 400hp Hammerhead engine.
We tested two boats, one with the standard Malibu Monsoon 350hp 5.7lt V8 EFI/MPI engine, and one with the fuel injected 6.2lt Hammerhead 383 saltwater series engine that supplies 400hp from its 383 cubic inch bore. Both options give you that rock-hard feeling that you only get from a big V8. I loved 'em - there is no substitute for big V8 horsepower.
Thundering performance aside, the engines can easily be opted for saltwater use and feature high-mount starter motors and catalytic converters to ensure the package is environmentally friendly and miserly at the bowser. The Malibu Wakesetter can truly be labeled as a lean, green, speed machine with exceptional range from the 208lt fuel tank for that long, hot weekend on the water.


The interior exhumes quality and style. I congratulate the manufacturer on the presentation of the French stitched upholstery. The leather-look 38-ounce Duraguard vinyl is beautifully stitched, padded and seamed.
The driver's seat is more comfortable than my favorite recliner, and lots more sporty. A very sociable U-shaped lounge is plush and comfortable while also allowing plenty of storage under the seat cushions. The backrests are thickly padded and I really liked the small sidepocket recesses that house the speakers, large cupholders and grabrails.
Malibu utilises the highest traditional construction standards, and has invented some great new techniques of their own. The synthetic Fibex stringer system is patented, and the hull and deck bonding uses a fibreglass welding method to gain enormous integral strength that is equivalent to one-piece construction. Under-floor cavities are injected with closed cell expansion foam for the highest level of safety and noise reduction.
The dashboard and helm layout is magnificent. There is no expense spared in the medallion polished stainless steel servo-driven gauges which display integrated digital and traditional needle gauge readouts.
The full array of gauges is supplemented with MUX digital switch panels and matching digital control for the fully computerised and patented Power Wedge  and MLS ballast system. This partnership allows fully programmable control over wake size, shape and boat speed for that perfect wake setting. Standard equipment also includes fuel computer and Power Wedge Display.
You will just love the racy Italian Isotta steering wheel and the stainless steel flush-mount controls that are the smoothest I have ever experienced. Rack and pinion steering gives the operator a huge amount of confidence with precise control at all speeds. Speed and gear controls are shift-by-wire and react instantly to the mammoth power they unleash via the machined and tuned, four-blade propeller.
The Rockford Fosgate sound system will blow your mind, and most of the surrounding suburbs. Malibu also import a strong and practical, centre opening windscreen that not only looks sensational, but is vented to pull air out from behind the dash.
A bimini cover is fitted to the Illusion XS wakeboard tower. The tower not only looks terrific but it also supports the anchor lights, speakers and a pair of tilt-down wakeboard storage racks.


Malibu have fitted all of the expected features such as auto bilge pump, in-floor Esky, blower, navigation, interior and courtesy lights, popup cleats and skipole, a removable cockpit table, as well as a large Cipa convex mirror as standard. For those with a storage problem for the big boat, the large non-skid boarding platform is detachable.
Wakesetters are built from experience. The ingenious walkway in the middle of the rear sun lounge protects the upholstery and tilts to reveal a very handy pizza tray that doubles as a drying area for wetsuits, towels, vests etc. Great for cold mornings on a misty Victorian waterway.
Malibu locally produces 14 models under licence to Malibu America. Based in Albury since 1995, they recently moved into a larger facility with a production capability of 10 boats per week.
Malibu has appointed a strong and qualified dealer network throughout Australia, and Victoria's Regal Marine who supplied the test boats have been involved right from the start. As you would expect, production has never gone backwards.
Last but certainly not least, is the on-water performance, summed up very quickly by stating emphatically that every man (or woman) should own one. This is a Ferrari with a touch of Riva. I had more fun behind the wheel than Chris had on the wakeboard!
In slightly choppy conditions, with two passengers and approximately 100 litres of fuel, Malibu's Monsoon 350hp V8 V-drive planed us at 31km/h at 2600m. A fast cruise was realised at 4500rpm for 58kmh, and WOT of 5200rpm had us at 66kmh.


Not owning one!



Specifications: Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV

Price as tested:   $96, 812 (plus on-road costs) 
Options fitted:   Power Wedge, GRP platform, System I stereo
Priced from:   $90,621  

Type:     Monohull 
Material:    GRP
Length overall:    7.01m
Beam:    2.59m (note: over standard towing width)
Weight:    1800kg (boat only); approx. 2500kg (BMT)
Deadrise:     Moderate

Fuel:    208lt 
People:   14
Rec. min. HP:   350
Rec. max. HP:   400

Make/Model:  Malibu Monsoon 5.7lt V8 EFI/MPI
Type:    Petrol
Rated HP:   350
Displacement:  5.7lt 
Weight:   Approx 400kg 
Gearbox ratio:  1.5:1 reduction V-drive
Propeller:   13.5 x 16in  four-blade CNC cut and tuned nibral

Regal Marine,
514 Canterbury Rd,
Vermont, Vic, 3133
Phone: (03) 9874 4624     


Originally published in TrailerBoat #240


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