Bold and the Beautiful
The minute I heard that a Malibu TXI had been sent to the ski farm at Camperdown I rushed to make arrangements to get out there for a review. As a skier myself, I knew the Response would more than live up to expectation. I harnessed the help of former international (Danish) and national waterski (SA) champion, Lisbeth Plotz and competition boat driver Ian Darwent, whose opinions I really value due to their many years of experience.
Unfortunately it was a cloudy day but the dam looked beautiful against a backdrop of green fields and the Malibu really stood out with her streamlined design and striking blue colours brightening up the grey-coloured water.
I was excited to test this Response with her completely new hull design which creates the flattest wake possible – making her a stand-out, record-breaking craft in a series of direct drive boats. She incorporates the traditional layout of a waterski boat with many new innovations and all the versatility you can expect from Malibu.
Launching was a breeze off the single-axle braked trailer with retractable transom straps, swing-up jockey wheel and ever helpful guide poles.
Starting up front there are two plush seats, which can be made into a sun bed, a great place to relax after a hard spell on the water. There is a lot of storage space underneath these seats to keep the area free of clutter.
The height of the windscreen has been adjusted to suit the driver’s seat position, which creates an ideal line of sight on a slalom course. The windscreen is also shorter on the sides which enables the pilot to talk to the skier in the water when alongside. In the early days I remember craning my neck trying to give instructions or hear what was being said – with many a splash of frustration coming from the person in the water.
The visuals from the cockpit are vastly improved compared with earlier models and, interestingly, the dash has been blackened to eliminate glare. The dash is a work of art with a Malibu Touch Command (MTC) which controls all your settings such as the keyless start entry, wedge control, bilge, blower, lights etc. There is also an impressive 6.5”-inch MaliView LCD display unit featuring pre-sets for numerous safety and performance systems and applications including speedo, water temperature, depth sounder and cruise control. Coming soon is the optional swivelling camera (Flo-cam Rear View Rider Camera) which allows live viewing or recorded action through the MaliView Dash System, which is great for training purposes, beginners or advanced skiers.
The Tournament speed control is satellite controlled and automatically compensates for the strength and pull of the skier on a slalom course. Gone are the days of old when the driver had to make the necessary adjustments – often suffering abuse from behind! There is a beautifully designed steering wheel for the push-pull steering and the latest fly-by-wire control throttle arm. Ian, who is an official waterski competition driver, couldn’t have been more complimentary about her instant but controllable response that makes her a dream to drive. The pilot’s seat is seriously plush with a pull up bolster for better visibility, and altogether, nine people can be comfortably seated while getting to the competition starting blocks – or simply taking a cruise. The motor box being so much smaller frees up a lot of space around the seat in the rear which makes it so much easier to move about in the boat. This is a huge advantage when you have passengers together with skiers or wakeboarders carrying equipment to and from the storage spots. Of course having loads of storage space helps and equipment such as skis and wakeboards etc are safely stored in the huge, underfloor ski locker.
There’s even more storage to be found in a very large locker in the rear, forward of the transom – sealed by two lids which are easy to lift thanks to the gas shocks on either side. The lids are also padded and can be used as a comfortable spot for sun tanning. The interior has some neat touches such as side storage space along the gunnels, an oddments locker found in the console opposite the pilot and just behind the ski locker is an insulated ice chest – great for storing drinks. Stainless steel cup holders are well-placed around the boat. The battery is easily accessible in the cleverly designed spot behind the passenger seat with its nifty lift-up lid. The huge fibreglass swim platform at the rear is ideal for fitting skis or wakeboards and boarding from the water is so much easier. The well-insulated 350 HP (5.7 litre) Indmar Monsoon inboard delivers phenomenal out the hole power with 400 lbs of torque – ideal for fun or training.
And for a V8 motor you can’t believe how quiet she is! A 151-litre fuel tank guarantees you hours of skiing fun.
Master pilot Ian who couldn’t stop purring at the improvements to the interior, did most of the driving while I concentrated on the various new features and taking pictures. I could not help but notice the improvement to the boat’s “ski-ability” and it is very obvious that the designers put a lot of love and thought into the T-cut Diamond hull. I don’t think I have ever seen such a flat wake before – they have effectively managed to minimize the size of the water that vastly reduces the impact on the ski. Not surprising then to hear that America’s Regina Jaquess recently broke the world slalom record behind a Malibu. She achieved 1 ¼ buoys at 41 off (10.25 m).
As I was keen to see a top skier in action I invited Lisbeth Plotz to try out a few runs behind the Response and she was impressed no end. She particularly mentioned that there was much less spray from the TXI and far less turbulence making the wake easier to see and read.
Through her turns she never felt the boat moving away from her thanks to the TXI’s factory fitted “Zero Off” tournament speed control system. This system keeps the speed of the boat incredibly steady and constant. This is an amazing feature and one I wish I’d had in my skiing days. Zero Off gives the truest GPS speed – which every official tournament waterski competition boat is required to have, and remember, records cannot be verified unless this speed control system is present. It was thrilling to see that turns at the ends of the slalom course were so smooth with barely any spray from the Malibu. As always, Liz made manoeuvring through the slalom course look totally effortless and it was a delight to watch her. I also asked Ian to do some really tight turns for the camera and you could see that she solidly held her course and line. Considering the length overall is 20.6 m with a beam of 2.77 m, this was truly impressive stuff. Once we were done and ready to tie up at the jetty, I was intrigued to see that the cleats were concealed in the hull but easy enough to pull out.
Apart from being a great boat for water skiing the Malibu TXI also has a Malibu Patent Manual Wedge which facilitates awesome wakes for wakeboarding. The Malibu Rockfind Fosgate Sound System is iPod enabled and has four custom speakers fitted. It’s like having a disco on water which is great for entertaining and creating an atmosphere! The TXI really is bold and beautiful with a world class overall finish and I can see why the Malibu is the first choice of tournament skiers and sites in the USA and elsewhere. Any owner would be proud to own a boat of this calibre! All Malibu boats come with a Lifetime hull warranty, five year engine warranty, and a five year all over boat limited warranty. For further information contact Boating International on (011) 4528280 or Paul on 082 458 4345 or Dean on 083 267 5358 or visit www.boating-int.co.za