By: John Willis

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The ultra-competitive American inland watersports market demands excellence, and any new model must be truly exceptional if it’s to survive. John Willis tests American custom-builder MBSport’s latest effort, the F21 Tomcat.



To thrive in today's cut-throat sportsboat market, each new example of the breed has to be a quality affair, with competitive pricing and a unique edge - something that sets it apart from the rest. Manufacturing around 300 boats per year, American custom-boatbuilding operation MBSports is still considered fairly small compared to the giants of the US industry, even though that number puts it close to the total annual output of some of Australia's heavyweights. Still, that sort of volume allows for specialist, high quality products, and to that end MB's focus is on innovative, hand-crafted boats - boats like the F21 Tomcat.

Ballast is a feature of most wakeboats these days. It forces a hull deeper into the water, creating the extra displacement necessary to form a better wave. The shape of the hull and external accessories such as wake plates then form the wave's girth, height and lip. MBSports has simplified the ballast system by incorporating solid fibreglass ballast tanks into the boat's construction. This isn't a new idea per se, but on the Tomcat you can fill and empty some 820kg of ballast in under 60 seconds via two large solenoid-operated valves on the transom (MB refers to these 100mm-diameter valves as "gates"). There's no need for intricate pumping systems, and the entire ballast is controlled by a single dash-mounted switch. Neat, eh?




However, there's much more to the F21 Tomcat. This beautifully made boat will appeal to all ages, and the Ferrari-red gelcoat certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. With a comfortable layout, premium upholstery, attractive mouldings and wizzbang instrumentation, the Tomcat has all the hallmarks of a premium sports package. Boats like this really are all about spoiling their occupants silly. They're the stage for tonnes of fun on the water for you and your friends, whether you're in the boat or behind it.

The powerful, freshwater-cooled, multi-point fuel-injected PCM 6.0lt V8 engine pumps out 409hp, in turn churning out enormous thrust through the V-Drive and 14in x 14.25in wake prop. In Australia the F21 is rated to carry a maximum of 15 people. Now that's perhaps a tad excessive - the layout would, however, happily accommodate 10 to 12 - but I don't for a moment doubt the powerplant's ability to lift the load. More practical yet would be around eight people; then you'd have total comfort for all and power to please. The F21 has as draft of 23in - just under 60cm - while it has a beam of 2.54m, which does raise the issue of over-width towing regulations.

The available interior space has been used wisely. MBSports says the Tomcat is the roomiest boat in its class, and I'm not about to argue that point. The dashboard is well forward and the engine bay is really fairly small - a handy thing, given the adjacent tilting sunlounge. The pickle-fork entry encloses a bowrider lounge, where there's plenty of seating, both with or without the cushion infill. Up here we find two of the six waterproof speakers for the powerful Clarion boom box, as well as recessed grabrails and enough storage for 14 lifejackets. There's little facility for anchoring, so the kit would have to be stored under the centre-forward seat, while MBSports uses anodized aluminium for all fittings, for longevity in both fresh and salt water.

All of the gleaming, white, double-stitched and poly-reinforced upholstery is thickly cushioned and well made. MBSports doesn't use any timber in its boat construction, and this ethos flows through to the cushion supports and backing plates. Red and black accents through the upholstery and trim match the boat's appealing hull graphics, adding up to one slick and sleek look.




As you pass through the hinged central section of the safety-glass windscreen and move into the cockpit, the first thing that strikes you is the spacious layout. This is where the party really starts. Everyone, including the driver, can enjoy his or her day in total comfort, thanks to a horseshoe-shaped lounge that extends to the rear-facing observer's seat on the port side.

The helm and dashboard are suitably sporty. Stainless-steel backing plates and a full set of Faria gauges are mounted on an appealing black dash. It contrasts beautifully with the solid red hull and white upholstery. The gauges and switch panels are all easy to see and operate, and there's a GPS-integrated cruise control readout. The custom sports steering wheel and stainless steel brand-accents all look and feel really classy. The pivoting driver's seat has a lift-up bolster and is comfortably placed, offering plenty of security and legroom, even for taller types.

On the move, vision is excellent, with a fast transition onto the plane and minimal bow rise. Although we didn't need it for this test, MBSports has introduced an adjustable trim plate that extends the keel line, which will help the boat lift when carrying large, heavy loads.

The Australian agents for MBSports, Dr Mark Chernoff and Christian Karolos, accompanied us on our outing on the beautiful Murray River near the Victorian town of Torrumbarry. Mark mentioned a recent test in America where the F21 Tomcat was fitted with the smaller 343hp engine. It managed to lift the package on the plane with over two tonnes of additional ballast - a hell of a lot of weight in a 21ft boat. Needless to say, the F21 performs well on the water, particularly with the big PCM 409hp engine. It's a little stiff in turns but otherwise it's pure pleasure. It tracks strait and true, and scores highly as a social boat, in addition to its impressive credentials as a wakeboat.

MBSports believes in keeping things simple. To that end, it keeps the options list to a minimum by including all the important stuff as standard. There's a huge 242lt fuel tank that should feed that relatively efficient PCM V8 for up to three days on the water without refuelling. There are rubber grips on the platforms, a power lift to the big rear hatch, dual-batteries, and pop-up bollards right where you need them. Some interesting options include a hot shower as well as a pull-out heater (stick that down your wetsuit on a cold morning!) plus a seat heater and
footwell outlets.

I was pleased to note the F21 came with an American-built, galvanised trailer that's been manufactured to meet Australian Design Rules. It's quoted at 2.5m wide when the sidebars are removed. It has a fold-away drawbar and when combined with the Tomcat's removable boarding platform, overall storage length can be reduced to a minimal 6.4m. With the tower folded, the overall height on the trailer is as low as 2.05m, so the package can be stored in most garages.




MBSports backs its products with a lifetime hull, deck and associated fittings warranty, plus five years on the carpet and upholstery and three years on the PCM engine and V-Drive. Its attention to detail throughout the F21 Tomcat is outstanding, and I'm sure this American boat's visual flair, comfort and performance - and its quality construction - will see it arriving in considerable numbers Down Under.



On the plane...

Looks great, with striking colours, decals, accents and accessories

Comfortable, thickly-upholstered and well-designed seating

It's powerful - luv the big V8!

The best Yankee trailer we've seen

Simple but effective technology, especially the ballast

Icebox holds 53 cans!

Huge storage


Dragging the chain...

A little stiff in turns

Just over 2.5m wide, some towing restrictions

No anchorwell or bollard






Specifications: MB Sports F21 Tomcat




Price as tested: $105,967

Options fitted: 6.0lt 409hp engine upgrade, 2 x tower speakers, telescopic board racks, cabin heater, heated driver's seat, hot / cold shower, LED underwater lighting, 2 x bullet tower lights, hydraulic planing plate and much more

Priced from: $77,859




Type: Pickle-fork, deep-vee bowrider wakeboat

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 6.40m

Beam: 2.54m

Weight: Approx. 2328kg w/ trailer




People: 15

Std. HP: 343

Max. HP: 410

Fuel: 242lt




Make/model: PCM ZR409

Type: Multi-port, fuel-injected, freshwater-cooled, 6.0lt V8

Weight: 422kg

Displacement: 6.0lt

Drive: PCM Power Plus

Gear ratio: 1.23:1

Propeller: Acme CNC 14in x 14.25in




MB Sports

Atwater, CA, 95301

United States





Riverside Boats & Leisure

76 Northern Hwy

Echuca, Vic, 3564

Tel: (03) 5482 1992




Originally published in TrailerBoat #269.


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