Boating | Mastercraft riding wave of interest | Mark Rothfield

MASTERCRAFT X26: The flagship model shows why Australia will soon overtake Europe as the company’s major export destination. The X26 is priced around $270,000.
MASTERCRAFT X26: The flagship model shows why Australia will soon overtake Europe as the company’s major export destination. The X26 is priced around $270,000.

FOR long-time skiing and wakeboarding enthusiasts, two of the major tell-tale signs of ageing are that your knees creak and people say you “had a fall” rather than simply “fell over”.

WAKE-UP CALL: Usually performed at 17kmh, wakesurfing is worth a crack if your knees are creaking.

WAKE-UP CALL: Usually performed at 17kmh, wakesurfing is worth a crack if your knees are creaking.

It has inspired a new global pursuit called wakesurfing, which is performed around 17kmh rather than 30kmh for wakeboarding or 55 for skiing. Gentler on the joints, and every bit as fun.

Now, US builder Mastercraft is riding the wave of interest with a spectacular 2018 model range. At the touch of a button on a Mastercraft dashboard, you can sculpt your own endless-summer break that runs for as long as the inshore waterway you find yourself upon. Punch that same button again and you’re able to tailor the wash for wakeboarding, skiing or cruising.

Such is Tennessee-based company’s commitment to the perfect wave, it employs three full-time naval architects to study the hydrodynamic nuances of different hull configurations, drive systems, ballast distribution, tabs, towers, swim-platform design and software control.

If the driver can’t be bothered customising settings, everything can be automated and optimised. It follows the commissioning of consultancy group BMW Designworks to examine how towsport consumers traditionally use their boats. The findings formed the foundation for three distinct modus operandi – there’s runabout-style commuting, chilling out at anchor, and towsports.

A new digital dashboard was configured around these fundamentals. When starting in drive you get speedo, tacho and depth as priorities. “Chill” sets the screen to night-club blue and increases the audio system’s prominence. Switch to tow mode and the screen glows red, also adjusting to give more focus to ballast, tab and speed data. A new display allows the stern wave to be adjusted from left to right and varied from “mellow” to steep.

Aussies are embracing the new Mastercrafts, with sales doubling year on year.  An Australian-specific pricing strategy has been formulated with dealers and engineers have taken aboard requests like customisable metric conversion for the digital dashboard.

For a bit over $90,000 you can dip your toe in the water with a base-model NXT20 running a 5000MPI (320hp) Ilmor engine, while the flagship X26 pulls a price tag of around $270,000.

I was lucky enough to run four of Mastercraft’s offerings – the XT21, XT22, X26 and NXT GLOBAL – at a recent media day. Favourite of these was the 21-footer, with its pretty vee-bowed lines, fibreglass lining and additional Dockstar rudders. It’s just a beautiful boat to drive, either on the straight or through corners. Standard power is the 5000MPI V8 but I’d suggest sweetening the performance even more with a 5500GDI that uses direct-injection technology. 

The pitch-forked XT22 is arguably an even more capable tow boat and adds the versatility of a 16-person seating capacity.  Buyers with bigger budgets will gravitate towards the X26, which includes such luxuries as a head compartment and electric fridge. Running a 430hp Ilmor 6000, it reached a top speed of over 65 kmh.

Sydney’s Blakes Marine is the NSW Mastercraft dealer.

Four Winns expands

AMERICA’S Four Winns is turning more to outboards than inboards, expanding its range of supersized bowriders in the new H290 OB, H350 OB, and V255 OB sportscruiser. It’s a sign that outboards are advancing in terms of technology and popularity, whereas sterndrives are losing momentum in the US. The H290 runs twin 300hp outboards, with optional joystick control. There’s seating for 10 people, galley and toilet, reversible aft lounge, and even a bit of snoozing room below. The flagship H350 is rated to twin 350s, has seating for 12, a hardtop with awning, plus a cabin that sleeps a family of four.

Coffs fave returns

FANS of the old Coffs Harbour yacht race will be chuffed to see it’s returning to the Christmas-New Year calendar with a new sponsor, Pantaenius Insurance, and a revised format. The Royal Motor Yacht Club at Newport and Coffs Harbour Yacht Club are co-hosting the race, starting on December 27. It will mark the 37th running of the coastal classic, despite it being shelved last year after storm damage on the marina. Families and shore crews love it because they follow the race then stay on to holiday and see in the new year. Registrations are via the RMYC website.