For those not in the know, both of these craft are fully imported and are highly respected in wakeboarding circles. Both claim maximum points for being top-class boats and both vie for the number one spot as the best cross-over wake craft ever.
This battle is more epic than the final fight in Braveheart. There’s everything to play for as we get a closer look at these two boats.
In order to present this to you in the best possible way, we’re going to talk about each boat separately and tie it all up in the end, beginning with the MasterCraft X2 and following on with the Malibu Wakesetter VLX.
Personally, I’ve always been a big MasterCraft fan and this garage-friendly 20-footer is no exception. Easy for storage and towing, its compact size and ‘quickto- plane’ performance makes the X2 highly manoeuvrable on the water, fun to drive and a great match for South African waterways. “Smaller” may define her mobile performance and ease of use, but certainly not her level of functionality or luxury, as she has peaking energy levels for slalom sprints and a legit wake even for surf seekers.
Inside, the X2’s abundant storage and range of standard and optional features almost defy its compact size. If you wanted, you could kit out the X2 to almost match the luxurious function of the larger MasterCraft range, right up to the big daddy, the X55!
Between the X2’s pickle-fork bow and transom, there’s space for 11 people in deep, comfy seating. Carved into the craft are easy-to-access storage, amenities for all, and a winning layout that you’d expect from a pioneer manufacturer. MasterCraft took full advantage of the extra width gained from the pickle-fork bow (instead of traditional V-shaped bow), allowing for a backrest on the forward section of the open bow to offer remarkably comfortable rear-facing seating for two up front.
Despite the generous-sized cockpit lounge, with a sliding, swivelling bucket seat for the skipper, there’s huge, extended U-shaped seating for passengers. Although there’s plenty of space to spare, you won’t lose any to your wakeboard or other gear since there’s storage compartments on either side of the engine bay, as well as board racks on the über-cool assisted wake tower.
Somewhere between industrial hightech and I suppose sci-fi futuristic, the X2’s helm station is a work of art! The three main gauges for revs, speed and temps look like they’re right out of a German sports car, and I swear the oversized knobs for the heater, lights, bilges and blower could almost stop time for being that beautiful! It’s almost reminiscent of the iconic X-Star – and let’s face it, that was pretty much the Sistine Chapel of helms. The dash was wrapped in an almost matt-black, leather-like vinyl and accentuated with a silver woven material that blended fantastically by the use of chunky metal around the switch panel, steering wheel and information and entertainment system.
Take note of the unique windscreen at the sides – or rather, the lack thereof. This allows the skipper to easily give tips to the rider in the water during a pass and you might find it comes in handy when approaching the dock. I really like what MasterCraft have done with the interior of the X2. It has a modern feel with a fresh look. As for the colour scheme; how you see her in the accompanying pictures is exactly how I would want her.
When it came to performance, it’s safe to say that I was as good as blown away by her agility. Having dialled in the boat’s hull, MasterCraft has given the X2 the ability to carve sharply, as well as do sweeping turns, without sliding, catching or hooking. The boat delivered a remarkably smooth ride in the afternoon dam chop. It seems the company hasn’t forgotten what made them top for so long. In recent years, we’ve seen so many companies focus purely on creating huge wakes that they completely forget about the ride quality. But the X2 is a perfect mix of handling and wake ability.
In our review, the X2 was fitted with an Ilmor MV8 5.7 litre. It’s so huge, it looks like it only just fits inside the engine bay. Dressed in a racy red colour, this engine looks and sounds like the business – and her performance specs aren’t bad at all. On paper, she’ll top out at around 73.7 km/h at 5 200 rpm. Simply throw down the throttles and hold on – this swift boat becomes fast as lightning but nowhere near as frightening.
What about the wake? With a simple touch of the screen at the helm, the craft automatically adjusts and fills to suit the rider’s choice to get the best conditions for the session. The option to add the nearly 900 pounds of standard ballast takes the wake from ideal for a slalom set, and sculpts it to be perfect for wakeboarding. When you need it, use the optional Surf Tab and take the wake to the next level!
From hull design and styling to amenities and systems, the X2 presents the state-of-the-art in upscale tow boats. While the craft might be small in size, her results are big! For more information on the gorgeous MasterCraft X2, contact Dan Savadier on (011) 462 4390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Malibu Wakesetter VLX The Malibu VLX benefits from its heritage as being the ultimate in towboats. Not only is it one seriously cool boat, it’s original and says three things about the owner; cool, smooth and suave. This Wakesetter is, then, the Fedora of the Rat Pack itself. With solid fibreglass construction, a deep-V hull, a 5.7-litre, 350 HP V8 Indmar Monsoon inboard motor, and the all-new, all-exclusive Surf Gate, you can be sure this Wakesetter is set to perform!
The main mission of the VLX is to be a hardcore wake craft, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you can expect. Although a traditional V-shaped bow, there’s plenty of flair right back to the stern for a wide, spacious interior.
Inside, the VLX is loaded with boaterfriendly features that add convenience and comfort – everything from the 6.5-inch Maliview touch screen system with depth finder and keyless start, to the G3 Illusion tower with swivel racks. Anchor in your favourite water spot or go nose up to a sandbar and make use of the booming Rockford Fosgate sound system with additional tower speakers, subwoofer and amp, or the wash of interior lighting for that sundown party mood. The bow can seat three, or two can soak up the sun with the filler cushions in place. Or sit at the stern on the extended U-shaped cockpit lounger and watch all the action at the business-end of the VLX. There’s storage space under the seating and a neat cooler box is found in the cockpit, along with compartments on either side of the engine bay that are ideal for keeping bulkier items ready for use. The canopy on the VLX can be folded away if you need to gain a few skin tones, or leave it open and have plenty of shade for nearly the entire cockpit area.
Let’s face it, whether you buy this boat as a weekend crowd hauler or use it to improve your boarding, it is never going to dissapoint. It’s stylish, fast, comfortable, and easy to drive in a package that looks great. A beefy 350 HP V8 starts at the push of a button and runs smoothly with a sporty tune. The strong, even pull keeps the run consistent, especially with the aid of the speed control via the touch screen system. The Wakesetter VLX doesn’t deny its heritage. This boat is the teacher in wake-ology 101 thanks to the all-new Surf Gate! On the go and at a simple push of a button, you can deploy a tab sidewards from the swim platform to pump up the wake.
With two onboard, full ballast tanks, the Power Wedge down and the Surf Gate on, the swell was massive – no less than 1.3 metres from trough to the top of the crest. I really liked the feeling the VLX gives you onboard. It’s a solid boat built to be the best and it’s really evident on the water.
The Wakesetter VLX is a great boat. But while it offers a lot as standard fare, the really cool bits that appeal to my inner kid are extras, like the camera to record your set, and Surf Gate – and those are what I want from a boat that blows my mind. Nevertheless, this craft is what the world of wake has been comprised into. And one day when my life flashes before my eyes, I really hope I see the VLX.
For more information, contact Boating International Cape Town on (021) 511 0220 or Johannesburg on (011) 452 8280. The showdown I’m sure it has become pretty apparent and easy to see why both the Malibu and MasterCraft have become the choice of towboat for so many topclass riders and competitions that it’s darn near impossible to pick one over the other. This is why it always comes down to personal taste.
For me, I’m a realist, so the X2 is the one I’d be most likely to own one day if I could twist the bank manager’s arm! However, if being a boating journalist did paid much better, I reckon you’d find me behind the wheel on the Malibu VLX.
If you’re ever in the position to choose, you’re probably the luckiest person in the world for starters – but the best part is that you can’t go wrong no matter your choice! You’d probably prefer the MasterCraft X2 if you: want a boat that’s nimble on the water; quick on pull off; a pleasure to drive; a great cross over between skiing and wakeboarding.
But you’d probably prefer the Malibu Wakesetter VLX if you: want (and can afford) all the toys; want to do some serious wake surfing; like attention while expecting top-class luxury