TESTED: MASTERCRAFT X-STAR

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


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Kevin Smith was suitably blown away when he got behind the wheel of MasterCraft’s latest wakeboard machine, the MasterCraft X-Star.

TESTED: MASTERCRAFT X-STAR
The MasterCraft X-Star wakeboat. No pilchard blood allowed on this boat.

Rarely has a boat’s moniker summed it up so well. After testing MasterCraft’s latest, the X-Star, I was left with similar words and phrases in my mind — X-rated, wow-factor, utterly amazing — but none seemed as perfect as the name used by the manufacturer.

A masterpiece of a boat, the X-Star is 7.31m (24ft) of innovation combined with an all-around impeccable finish and 6.2L of V8 grunt. And that doesn’t even include the high-status reputation and popularity that’s included for free.

Every boat I ever ride in blows my hair back one way or another, but when it comes to dedicated wakeboarding boats, this one easily takes the cake. MasterCraft’s legendary X-Star has been around for eight years now, and this latest version has come about after three solid years of blood, sweat, and tears of development. And as if to prove its on-water credentials, the 2013 X-Star is now the official tow boat for Wakeboarding Australia’s national competition, and is the tow-boat of choice for Aussie wakeboarding superstar Harley Clifford.

In something of a (welcome) contrast, this brand new X-Star somehow screams classic style, and with its electronic retracting dash, hydraulic wake tower, retro colour schemes, ingenious seating arrangements, family suitability, and comfortable ride and handling, I’m not surprised it is so highly regarded in the world of watersports.

Does it sound like I’m blown away yet?



A REAL LOOKER

Where do you start on such a machine? To be honest, I am not really one for boats with bright, out-there colour schemes, but the X-Star’s combination of black, white, silver and very bright orange completely does it justice. It looks stunning from every angle. And, apart from the pickle-fork hull design that grabs your attention if you’ve never seen one before, the bright orange seating and luxurious deck layout, rated to 14 passengers all up, is a natural head-turner.

Up in the bow, the comfortable dual-facing plush lounge seats have an infill and gullwing storage below. The cockpit is home to a wraparound lounge with options on forward-, rear- and side-facing seating, and the rear centre seat converts to an innovative two-way judging seat.

The last pew to mention is the transom seat leading to the swim platform which, as a non-skid seat / step combo atop the transom, definitely makes transition in and out of the water far safer for all.

To top it all off, there are drink holders and strategically placed grab handles no matter where you’re seated. Indeed, configuring the X-Star to suit your needs is as easy as you like.

With so much space storage is no issue, with plenty of space below most of the seats, room for wakeboards on the tower racks, a simple built-in rubbish bin and, most importantly, a good-sized eski. Colossal stern storage on either side of the motor hatch can also be used to add ballast tanks if required.



AT THE HELM

This is where the driver really gets to take charge. Seated behind a multitude of gadgets, the command centre is made up of a triple-screen interface that features a central Murphy 7in and dual 4.3in screens, providing easy access and control of the entire boat. The main centre screen can also be electronically raised or lowered for better viewing through the main windscreen, or even closed for protection. But you don’t really need to drop the screen down to view it better through the windscreen because the new tapered angle on the bow provides unrestricted viewing, even with the ballast full.

Other fancy gadgets include automatic volume control for the sound system, beautiful aluminium trimmings, a universal billet aluminium throttle and the latest hydraulic ZFT-5P tower that can be fully extended for watersports or moved all the way down for storage.

There is also an on-board heater, as well as a freshwater wash-down system and an array of lighting. Really, I could harp on forever about all the features, but it’s really one of those boats you have to see for yourself.



UNDER THE HOOD

This is the home of the big gun, an Ilmor 6.2L V8. Opening to hood to check it out, you are immediately struck by the engine’s size and prominent colours. The V8 produces 321kW (430hp) at 5400rpm, which I’m sure you’ll agree is plenty to keep wakeboarders and other joyriders smiling.

Holeshot is all about mega torque, and this MasterCraft is all over that one. The X-Star is esepcially quick to plane for a 7.31m (24ft) boat, and the attitude it maintains from out of the hole to be fully on the plane is very impressive. You don’t lose sight over the bow due to the stern digging in, and that’s even with the ballasts tanked up. A major top end is not imperative on these boats, but you can still get to 38.2kts (70.75kmh) at WOT. Not bad at all.

In terms of fuel consumption, the MasterCraft guys assured me that if you own one of these babies, you probably don’t care. A fair call, I guess.

In addition to its exceptional power, the X-Star — and really every other MasterCraft I have been on — produces a very soft and dry ride. I’ve even had an X35 offshore and its ride actually impressed me more than the offshore boat I was supposed to be testing at the time. Such a comfortable ride, combined with the interior luxury, means you and your passengers will never feel anything but totally at home.

For the skiers, wakeboarders, and even the new breed of wakesurfers, the X-Star is a great machine to get behind. With a plug-and-play ballast system, a perfect wake to suit your needs and even four speakers pumping tunes back at you, this MasterCraft is your oyster.

In addition, a seemingly simple thing like non-skid in the centre of transom lounger, transom seat and round-edged swim platform is one of those features that helps make life easier, and safer, for the boarders entering and exiting the water.

On the day of our test, two daring young lads braved a crisp morning to put on a show and demonstrate just how well the X-Star creates wakes for wakeboarding and wakesurfing. The display they put on was great, and the wake created for them seemed ideal for their abilities, although I can safely say I’m glad I wasn’t braving that icy water.



THE WRAP

Although I primarily spend more time on fishing boats than on something like this, I have to say the X-Star is absolutely amazing when it comes to the finishes, quality of design and power. Finding fault in one of these is nigh on impossible, and even though you might grab for the oxygen mask when you see the $165K price tag, you have to realise these are really an executive piece of on-water art designed for professional use, and they are actually great value for money for the dedicated watersports crowd. Good care and maintenance means such a boat will last you many years, and if you did replace one it would only be because you wanted to upgrade.

In terms of towing it to the ramp, the X-Star does admittedly tip the scales at a fair number (2449kg) and it has 2.57m of beam, so a decent tow vehicle is necessary. Something beefy like a Ford F250, or similar, would be an ideal match.

The X-Star package has plenty of "wow factor" about it, and in addition to being the ultimate wakeboarding vessel it also serves well as a great family and entertaining boat.



PERFORMANCE
6kts (11.1kmh) @ 1100rpm
9.5kts (17.6kmh) @ 2300rpm
10.4kts (19.2kmh) @ 3000rpm
20kts (37kmh) @ 3500rpm
28.6kts (53kmh) @ 4500rpm
31.3kts (58kmh) @ 5000rpm
35.6kts (66kmh) @ 5700rpm
38.2kts (70.75kmh) @ 5800rpm (WOT)



ON THE PLANE...

  • Pretty much everything

DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • Would be a shame to get pilchard blood on the upholstery when fishing





MASTERCRAFT X-STAR SPECIFICATIONS

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $165,000

Options fitted: Ilmor 6.2L V8 engine; powered tower with four speakers; hydraulic steering; boat cover; bimini; plug-and-play ballast system; heater; freshwater wash-down; underwater lighting; bow filler cushion; anchor; bow ladder.

Priced from: $129,640



GENERAL

Type: Professional wakeboarding

Material: GRP

Length: 7.31m

Beam: 2.57m

Weight: 2449kg



CAPACITIES

People: 14

Rec. HP: 400

Max. HP: 522

Fuel: 280L



ENGINE

Make/model: ILMOR 6.2L

Type: MV8

Weight: 427kg

Displacement: 6.16L

Gear ratio: 1.5:1

Propeller: 4x17in



MANUFACTURED BY

MasterCraft Boat Company

100 Cherokee Cove

Vonore

Tennessee 37885, United States

Web: www.mastercraft.com



SUPPLIED BY

Queensland Marine Centre

1 Bailey Crescent

Southport

Queensland 4215

Tel: (07) 5591 7032

Web: www.qmc.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #296, June/July 2013

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