By: John Willis

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Bold, brash and razor sharp, the Malibu Boats design team went back to the drawing board to create the new Axis A20 wakeboat, writes John Willis.




The Axis wakeboat range is all about meeting high expectations. After all, we now live in a hi-tech world full of innovation and sublime design - a world where supreme performance is a pre-requisite in boat construction, rather than just a goal.

Wakeboarding is an art, just as surfing was to me when I was a kid. It's full of creativity and with it comes a language and a lifestyle all of its own. To the outsider, surfers don't need much to pursue their sport - a 'board, some transport, and maybe a wetsuit. But to the surfing devotee there is so much more - and just as surfboard design continually evolves through foils, rockers, edges and materials, so too does wakeboarding, but in a far more technical way. Modern wakeboats have evolved to create the perfect wave, but in a style of presentation that suits the essence of the sport's lifestyle -flashy, loud, and in totally your face.




Axis Wake Research is leading light in wakeboat manufacture, and its Axis A20 - built here in Australia at Malibu Boat's Albury (NSW) facility, slots right into the scene. You can't miss it, especially in the "back in black" colour scheme. Its first entry in the market, the A22, certainly arrived with a bang last year, and now the A20 is again setting the benchmark - and at a realistic price.

Specifically designed for dedicated riders, the Axis A20 will also happily accommodate a large group of friends in its comfy, convertible cockpit and bowrider. In fact, the A20 can seat up to 11 passengers. The walkthrough cushions are on hinges so the extended observer's seat and the bowrider can have lift-up backrests. It's called "ChillAX" seating, and it combines well with the "Skybox" rear seat, where the centre section of the rear lounge slides forward to allow more people to sit facing the rear. Up to four people can sit on the observer's seat next to the driver, plus a couple on the "Skybox" and another four in the "TriAX" bow. This makes it a very sociable boat, with an inviting layout and no small amount of charm. The upholstery is a quality affair and it's a pleasure to drive the thing whether there's a rider out the back or not. The driver's seat has a flip-up bolster and swivel, and is perhaps the most comfortable seat in the house.




Axis calls the A20 the smaller of its "Evil Twins". It has a reasonably mellow wake without ballast, but the standard A20 comes with a "Wakebox" ballast system with three solid plastic tanks built into the boat, providing 360kg of extra weight with which you can tune your wake. You can mould the wake even further with the "Plug and Pay" soft ballast bag option, which can add another 454kg of displacement in the rear storage lockers and under the bowrider seat cushions. All of the ballast is easily controlled from the helm. Add the optional "Auto Set Wedge" and you have a fully sculpted wake of a professional standard.

The A20 comes with the same Axis / Indmar 5.7lt 335hp Sequential-port Fuel Injected (SFI) V8 engine found on its larger twin, giving a raunchy account of lustful power that truly rocks the soul. The driver monitors all operational components via a bank of highly visible multi-function gauges mounted high on the moulded dashboard, providing at-a-glance digital displays of everything from fuel level to water depth, cruise control and more. There is also a bank of waterproof switches for other systems like the in-house lighting, and of course there's a powerful stereo system - in this case a Sony CDX-H905P. It offers AM / FM / CD / MP3 functionality, the latter with iPod connectivity and a 3m USB cable. I certainly felt comfortable at the helm, with its custom Axis sports steering wheel and silky-smooth side-mount engine controls.

There's built-in storage just about everywhere you look, with tons of space under all of the seats, a chill pack under the driver's-side lounge and big, deep bins either side of the engine. There's a warming bin on top of the engine, too - just the thing to take the chill off those cold wetsuits on a brisk morning. Yes, we've gone a bit soft, haven't we?

At night, the LED lighting fitted under the seats plus the crisp display from the dashboard and the navigation lights lends the Axis A20 a cool, modern presence. The sharp lines of the hull, its graphics and the "pickle fork" bow combine beautifully with the shapely "Wingless MH" three-piece vented windscreen and the black, powder-coated aluminium FatAX wake tower with billet aluminium bases. There's a large bimini for comfort and protection during those long days in the sun, plus a dinner-plate-sized rectangular ski mirror and standard fixed wakeboard racks. Believe it or not, there's actually a built-in bottle opener cut into the optional towing mirror - the A20's maker has thought of just about everything!

For compact garaging the FatAX tower tilts easily and the broad fibreglass boarding platform is removable. There are drinkholders all over the boat, including beside the preparation seat, so the active sportster can remain energised and hydrated.




Potential Axis purchasers are urged to visit the Malibu Boats factory for a first-hand inspection of the entire manufacturing process. I did, and I was impressed. The Malibu / Axis manufacturing process, materials and build quality is matched only by the obvious care and pride displayed by each member of the Malibu / Axis team. The facility sets high standards and all boats are fully tested on nearby Lake Hume.

I joined the crew for a romp around the lake in the Axis A20 and it sure got my heart thumping. This is an exciting package that provides real value for money for dedicated wakeboard enthusiasts.

Without ballast or the wedge the wake is still entirely suitable for slalom or family skiing, but in this respect a quote taken from the Axis website says it all: "Axis boats don't try to be everything to everybody, like some so-called crossover boats. Axis Wake Research's loyalty lies with riders, and we make no apology for that."




On the plane...

Value for money
Great to drive
Inventive seating
Striking looks
Customised Easytow trailer
Under 2.5m towing width



Dragging the chain...

My fitness - how about I drive, you jump out the back!









Price as tested: $74,611

Options fitted: Stereo pack, painted and galvanised trailer, snap-out Japanese-style Tatami floor mat, tear ski / tow pylon, boat cover, pull-up cleats

Priced from: $65,499




Type: "Pickle fork" wakeboat

Material: GRP

Length: 6.1m

Beam: 2.49m

Weight (dry): 2100kg (on trailer)




People: 11

Rec. HP: 335

Max. HP: 400

Fuel: 180lt




Make/model: Axis / Indmar AR335

Type: 5.7lt, 335hp, sequential-port, fuel-injected (SFI) V8

Displacement: 5.7lt

Gear ratio: 1.46:1

Propeller 14.5 x 14.25 Acme four-blade




Malibu Boats Australia

813 Hope Court

Albury, NSW, 2640

Tel: (02) 6040 1174



Originally published in TrailerBoat #271

Find Axis boats for sale.


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