By: Kevin Poulter, Photography by: Ellen Dewar

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Junior Wakeboard Champion Harley Clifford joins our test team behind the exciting MasterCraft X14 skiboat on the Murray River with editor Kevin Poulter




MasterCraft has shaped the ski, wakeboarding and luxury boating industry since 1968. Made in Tennessee, their X-series manifest quality and style.
We recently travelled to the Murray for a river test at Bundalong, near Yarrawonga, and to ensure the most professional workout, towed the world junior Wakeboard Champion, Harley Clifford. At just 15, Harley is on fire to be the world's best and MasterCraft have begun sponsoring him at an early age, as they know he will be winning men's championships in the near future.
The Murray was surprisingly docile, considering the high winds in the area, tamed by the 'canyon walls' of river gums. Plus the MasterCraft X-14 and Harley were ready for almost anything the elements could deliver. I was advised that Harley would 'wear out' from exertion in less than an hour, but they hadn't counted on the passion and enthusiasm of a young man with a goal. Harley had a ball, with valued practice time and showing us why he is the world champ.
MasterCraft boats are designed as high performance, excitement skiboats and the X-14 at 21ft4in (6.5m) accommodates up to 11 people. With sleek lines and liquid curves reminiscent of an expensive sports car, the X-14 looks fast, confirmed by the smooth effortless take-off with the big V8 growling.
The hull is configured for flat slalom runs with the throttle forward, or fat, rounded 'wakeboard heaven' wakes with the throttle eased back. A multi-location ballast system adds exactly the desired weight to achieve the ultimate waves. In fact some MasterCraft owners take surfers out for a hands-free ride. Starting the tow with a rope, they surf until they reach the 'sweet spot' on the wave, then the rope is relinquished, for almost unlimited surfing.
X-series powerplants boast direct drive for less moving parts and manoeuvrability. This configuration is safer for picking up and disembarking skiers and wakeboarders too, as the prop is farther under the boat than a sterndrive and located beyond the rudder. To cover all bases, MasterCraft do advise, however, not to be near the platform when the motor is running.
At the helm, the X-14 has a stunning retro classic theme, belying the reality that behind the 1950s elegant style, all the controls and instrumentation are up to the minute 21st century technology. The look and functionality certainly impressed me; it's like owning a classic, but with all modern appointments. The custom four-spoke highly-polished chrome steering wheel has a thick vinyl coating in the grip areas and is adjustable like in a car. Instrument and switches clusters are surrounded by styled embossed aluminium.




Electromechanical Borg Warner instrumentation is driven by proprietary software to read streaming data impulses and deliver unrivalled accuracy.
Pivotal to the information and management is the VDIG in-dash video graphical display centre. This screen is accessed through single-touch buttons enabling monitoring and control of the X-14's performance plus parameters like speed, ballast, trim, depth and Perfect Pass. Then there's the most useful low fuel, battery, low oil pressure or high coolant temperature alerts - even a shallow water alarm.
Near service time for oil change or pump impeller replacement, you'll also be advised by this highly intelligent computerised information centre. Many boaters find it's easy to forget the bilge system and the manual switch too. No problem, as an auto system turns the bilge-pump on when water is detected.
The wraparound and swivel driver's seat is most comfortable and features a folding bolster, to boost the driver's viewing height - perfect for younger members of the family and wives - if you'll let them take a turn at your 'dream machine'. The subwoofer speaker faces the driver for bass with kick into the backrest of the seat.
Full-load ballast created a wave that made Harley's wakeboarder eyes glaze with admiration, as the big multiport-injected, 5.7lt 310hp, GM Vortec V8 growled a magnificent lazy low-rev tone that only eight cylinders can muster.
The Indmar inboard was easily moving the boat, ballast with a wakeboard on tow and three people quickly up to speed powered by a petrolhead's dream. Due to the well insulated engine bay there's absolutely no problem carrying on a conversation or listening to rock n' roll from the 10 JL Audio speakers.
There are few things in life that give a grown man goose bumps like the growl of V8 power dressed up in black and stainless steel. Custom built to MasterCraft's specifications, the RTP-1 5.7lt is a solid power plant with all the juice needed from deepwater slalom starts to competitive wakeboarding.
MasterCraft's cable-less digital throttle control delivers quick, smooth access to a steep and wide powerband. The Indmar developed system allows the helm throttle control to electronically connect to the engine's ECM for throttle response that's quick and smooth. A car-like cruise control precisely maintains the selected speed to within 1mph, even during turns. Speaking of turns, the X-14 handled tight turns at speed, even over wakes, with excellent controlled stability. For safety, the cruise speed can be instantly turned off. All MasterCraft Models are available as Salt Water Specific engines. SS Cooling systems are totally closed and corrosion free, so saltwater never enters an SS engine system. It uses only propylene-glycol/water coolant driven by a high-flow pump. Coolant tanks are easily accessible for filling and maintenance, and are equipped with sacrificial anodes for extended life.




A rock-solid, awesome engineered tower is the major feature overhead. Perfect for pod speakers and board holders. No ordinary board holders - they swivel 180º into the boat for release with ease. Forget bungy-cords, too, the boards are clamped by tension screws for convenience.
For loud entertainment, 13 potent JL Audio speakers match the Clarion head unit AM/FM/CD/iPod compatible audio, with tons of grunt. The test X-14 had four optional billet aluminium tower speakers, retro sculptured for sound with style, which pumped out sound even the skier or wakeboarder can hear.
At the apex of the bow, there's a soft rear-facing comfortable seat with a back support considerably higher than you'd expect in this farthest for'ard position. A bonus is this seat is flanked by speakers each side, so a passenger can enjoy the best sound quality relaxing here, while watching the wakeboarding or skier. Soft padded seats each side of the bow accommodate more passengers and under-seat stowage, flanked by two recessed bowrails.
The windscreen shielded all spray (which was minimal anyway) and a folding centre panel opens to offer access forward through a 46.5cm walkway. Each side of the windscreen has a support strut for rigidity and vision is excellent. There's an opening door for the lower section of the walkthrough passage too. A single access passage from the stern to the cockpit or bow is an ample 58cm clearance.
The passenger/observer seat is roomy and comfortable. Two-tone highlighted vinyl lounge seating in a 'J' shape is double-stitched, also roomy and comfortable with precision fitting in all removable sections. Near the stern, four JL Audio component speakers (two woofers and two tweeters) complete the sound stage, for a great on-water party.
Throughout the boat, clip-on carpets are easily removed for cleaning. There's plenty of cupholders, too, behind the observer's seat and one beside the observer, two beside the driver, two in the bowrider area and three on the engine cover.
The rear passengers have a grabrail each side while in the transom there's storage under each rear side-seat and a glovebox for sun cream, gloves, flippers and the like that is easily accessed from within the boat or externally from the teak boarding platform. This generous sized, genuine teak platform has grab slots for swimmers to board or conversely for the crew.
For the test, MasterCraft organised a customer to bring his boat too. He's owned several makes over the years and now is one of their leading supporters, believing MasterCraft is the best he has owned. Harley's father is also impressed, stating: "The wakes are the best in the world. Big and rampy. The shape of the wake is awesome. All the pro riders just love them."
MasterCraft does build for quality and excitement. There are photos, videos and even more details, plus information on choosing a prop for your needs at their website, or contact the dealer, New World Honda.
As we approached the launching ramp at the end of the exciting test on this perfect Murray tributary, the wind blew with a vengeance. No problem, we were done and satisfied to recommend the X-14 to anyone.




V8 power
Quality-engineered tower
Comfort and finish
Swivelling board rack
Stereo system




Can't find any





Specifications: Starcraft X-14




Price as tested: $84,160
Options fitted: Tower speakers, MasterCraft Bimini top, MasterCraft boat cover, iPod interface, and coloured hull
Priced from: $79,800




Material:   Handlaid fibreglass
Length overall: 6.50m
Length on trailer:  7.50m
Beam:   2.44m
Weight:   1479kg (boat only)




Fuel:  151lt
People:     11 or 773kg




Make/model:  MasterCraft RTP-1
Type:   Multiport-injected 5.7lt GM Vortec V8 by Indmar
Rated HP:   310
Displacement:  5.7lt (350 cu in)
Propeller:  Three-blade 13 x 11in CNC




New World Honda Marine,
518/552 Princess Highway,
Narre Warren, Vic, 3805
Phone: (03) 8794 0000



Originally published in TrailerBoat #230

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