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Out of Cruise Control

Out of Cruise Control

“Woohoooo!” The yell from my friend Richard as the boat zoomed along at more than 40mph said it all.

Putting MasterCraft’s XT22 though her paces was a lot more exciting than trundling along in his Castle 650 trailer-sailer at a sedate six knots.

The occasion was a media afternoon organised by boat manufacturer MasterCraft to showcase their 2018 range in conjunction with a dealer conference at Couran Cove.

For those new to powerboating, MasterCraft is the largest producer of inboard ski, wakeboard and luxury performance boats in the world. Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are booming markets, and today, this USA company exports to more than 30 countries.

I was invited to check out the new range. My friend and sailing buddy Richard volunteered to come along and take the photos. He is also considering buying a powerboat, so the outing was timely.

Heading down the jetty at Couran Cove, the six MasterCraft Boats were easy to spot, with a bright assortment of colours, including light-blue and light-green models with a distinctly retro feel colour-wise that made me think of the movie Grease.

The all-new 2018 MasterCraft XStar with a 430hp 6.2-litre 6000 engine has yet to make it to our shores, but there were plenty of other new models to ooh and ah over. These included the 2018-model NXT20, XT21 and XT22, and the 2017-model X26 and NXT Global. The latter was the only outboard-powered model there.

Prices range from around $92,000 for the NXT20 with a trailer up to about $225,000 for the flagship XStar. Here in Australia, the smaller boats tend to sell best.

One of the major cosmetic differences between each size is that some have traditional bows and others have pickle-fork bows, which give you more space on deck and makes it easier to board from the beach. This is an innovation MasterCraft developed, but which has since been copied by other manufacturers.

Several features stood out as we inspected the boats.

State-of-the-art electronics

mastercraft 2 gold coast

Check out this for a rear-view camera: young pro wakeboarder Bryce Grey getting back on board.

 

The Dual-Screen Dash and Gen 2 Surf System make the dashboard look like something you would find in an upmarket car, with all your electronics right there. MasterCraft research showed most boaters had three usage modes – drive, tow and chill- and the new system tunes the boat’s operations into these modes. You can be up and going at the touch of a few buttons. You can also save customised profile options to get that perfect ride every time.

To complement it, MasterCraft are fitted with a triple plate launch system and single plate launch system to allow the boat to pull out of the water easier, which puts less strain on the motor and makes it more fuel efficient.

 

Reversing made easier

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The new Dockstar optional docking system features two flanking rudders to combat prop kick to starboard in reverse.

Picture credit: MasterCraft

 

Coming into a jetty is always one of the challenging aspects of boating, made even harder by props that kick to starboard in reverse. MasterCraft has come up with a solution to the problem: twin-flanking rudders that control the flow of water aft under the boat and negate prop kick. While the expert demonstrating it still had issues docking because of a cross breeze, it did look as if the boat was consistent reversing and not favouring starboard.

 

Sound, glorious sound

mastercraft 3 gold coast

The Klipsch Audio system can pump out the sound at concert quality.

 

Another new MasterCraft optional extra is the Klipsch Audio systems, which creates a heavy-hitting, customisable concert-style entertainment experience. And, yes, we did crank it up, and we really enjoyed the quality of the sound.

 

Sticky no more

While we were listening to the music, we had time to sit back and put the new Cool Feel vinyl upholstery to the test, which is meant to stay cool even on hot days. Conditions were overcast but still warm and the Cool Feel vinyl did perform as spruiked – yet another tick for MasterCraft’s R&D department.

 

On the water

The first boat we ventured out in was the spanking-new 2018-model XT22, which is powered by a 5.3L 365hp Ilmor 5500. The yellow-and-black XT22 clocked a top speed of 44mph and was extremely manoeuvrable even doing doughnuts, much to our enjoyment. However, this boat is primarily about wakeboarding and wakesurfing, and we saw it both modes, courtesy of young Gold Coast junior pro athlete Bryce Grey. It was impressive, to say the least, giving Bryce great wave shape and changing trim and ballast at the touch of a button.

“Powerboating has come a long way since I was a child and we used to go out in a tinnie sitting on a milk crate,” MasterCraft Gold Coast dealer principal Luke Webber said, as he steered the XT22. “It’s so much easier now. The electronics means even the driver can relax and enjoy your time on the water with your family without having to constantly worry about adjusting things.”

The second MasterCraft, the X26, was more an all-round luxury family boat rather than a dedicated wakeboarding or wakesurfing boat, although it is known for its displacement and ability to generate a big wake. It can seat up to 18, and even has an enclosed head. Yes, ladies, a proper toilet!

The X26 has a 430hp 6.2L Ilmor engine and clocked a hang-on-tight top speed in the early 40mph.

Heading back up the jetty at the end of the afternoon, Richard said how wonderful it would be to trade in his Castle 650 and buy an X26. We’d have to top up our savings with a Lotto win first. MasterCraft boats are stunning, but they do come with a price tag that reflects their quality.

 

By Caroline Strainig

 

Photos by Richard Pyne (unless otherwise stated)

 

For more information visit MasterCraft Gold Coast, www.mastercraftgoldcoast.com.au

 

 

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