Malibu’s Wakesetter 24 MXZ is a wakesurfing machine taken to a new level … literally
Author: Alan Jones
Last year, Malibu unveiled the Wakesetter 22 MXZ, which proved to be one of its most successful launches ever and was the official towboat of the Red Bull Wake Open. This year, the 22 MXZ has a bigger, badder brother — the Wakesetter 24 MXZ, which gives you passenger capacity for a dozen-and-a-half, as well as something else that will change your wakesurfing world forever.
There’s no denying that wakesurfing is the hottest new watersport, and you can always tell when someone is geared up to participate by the way the boat is heeled way over — some all the way to the gunwale — which can be a little dicey if an inexperienced driver is at the helm. But Malibu has found a way to keep the MXZ on kilter with an invention called Surf Gate. No, it’s not some kind of beachy conspiracy theory; rather, Surf Gate is two near-vertical “trim tabs” that direct the water’s flow to create a surfable wake on one side without making your boat go on tilt. To create a surf wake on the port side, you swing the starboard-side gate outward while the wave-side paddle stays tucked in. The change can be made on the fly and happens fast enough that surfers can traverse over the wake from the regular side to the goofy side without the party ever stopping to reconfigure.
You still need additional ballast to go really big, but instead of loading up mostly one side, you add weight to both sides like you would for wakeboarding, and the Surf Gate shapes and elongates the wave — on one side at a time — so much so that two surfers can fit on one wave without clacking boards together. One big advantage of this system is that if you want to throw in a set of wakeboarding in between wakesurfing runs, all you do is tuck both Wake Gates inward and you’re ready to fly. In addition to the hard tanks, which can take on up to 1,450 pounds of launch liquid, Malibu gives you a new Plug and Play system that’s pre-plumbed to instantly accept ballast sacs, to maximize your way to the ultimate wave.
One of the innovations available gratis on 2013 Malibu boats is Medallion’s Perfect Pull app for Android and Apple phones that allows you to start loading ballast before you get to the boat, so when you are ready to roll, the boat’s ready to rock. Also included as part of the Mobile Device Gateway is Bluetooth connectivity to the stereo, so your set list is ready to queue up your personal soundtrack right from your smartphone without mechanically docking it.
Our test boat is packing some heat with a 555 hp supercharged monster from Indmar that’s based on the Cadillac CTS-V engine, which has turned the former grandfatherly car brand into a Ferrari killer. As you would expect, the engine sounds good (you can go to indmar.com and hear it) and has enough torque to tow oceangoing barges in your spare time. Even the standard Indmar has a tree stump-pulling 410 hp, so whatever you get you’ll definitely not be underpowered. Malibu gives you a stout 4,800-pound boat before you load up the ballast, which gives you a head start makin’ waves, so having lots of power is important. The 24 MXZ was on plane in just 3 seconds, even when we had the Power Wedge deployed, which helps bulk up and shape your wake. An innovation called Auto Wedge raises the Wedge when starting off, to save gas. The Wakesetter’s time to 30 mph was 8 seconds, and it reached 49.1 mph, making it the fastest ski boat we’ve tested this year.
The driver sits in a really plush wrap-around bucket seat with a high-rise bolster, for peering across the windshield. Forward visibility, even when the boat is loaded up, is good, although the stylish windshield supports in the corner partially block your view.
Assisting us in corners were the standard Gorilla Fins, which help the 24 MXZ turn ridiculously hard and relatively flat with just a spin of the mono-spoke sport wheel. Turning with the burden of the Power Wedge pulling the stern down could be cumbersome, but the Auto Wedge automatically retracts it in turns, when riders won’t be maneuvering anyway, which also saves gas. Although the running surface is relatively flat (actual deadrise undisclosed), its sharper entry, 24-foot, 5-inch length and heavy weight translate to a decent ride in the chop, which we discovered on Georgia’s Lake Lanier on a blustery day as we rode across its several-mile width, looking for smooth water.
As the name Wakesetter implies, the boat’s primary mission is to plow up large, well-formed wakes for surfing and boarding. With the addition of Surf Gate, you have the ability to do both sports without having to dump or add ballast between disciplines. To create the largest surfing wake possible, you still want to load up one side a little more, but just moving a few people to the surf wave side is usually all it takes. We would like to have seen a nonskid surface on the gunwales, like Malibu has on the bow boarding-ladder lid, because guests will be boarding in bare feet from everywhere on this boat when it’s full.
The MXZ family, including the 20 and 22, are Malibu’s pickle-fork boats, and they give you extra width in the bow for greater passenger capacity and roominess. The biggest difference in the 24 MXZ can be found up front, where there is plenty of stretch-out room on the bowrider seats, even for a 6-footer. With the filler cushions in place, the bow on our test boat makes a good sunning station when the roomy stern sunpad is occupied. The other plus of the pickle fork is the ability of up to three riders to face rearward to catch the ski show. And Malibu ramps up the rearward seating capacity with its new Wakeview seating — twin flip-up seatbacks in the huge social-friendly U-lounge, which rings the entire cockpit. Along with the port-side lounger, that gives you a total of six rearward-facing seats.
Malibu gets the setup started with the standard Illusion G3 Tower, which is made in-house and can be optioned to hold four double storage racks for wake- and surfboards. Plus, you can add a camera system and four coffee-can speakers, which are built by Malibu. The tower has a hydraulic-assist dropdown that can be handled by anyone on board more than 12 years old. Because personal preference is the overriding factor in choosing a stereo, that is also an option. Our test boat features the Machine Metal Gray sparkle hull-side gelcoat, which really accented the bright-yellow topside gelcoat. While the optional 555 hp Indmar is a monster, you can drop down to the intermediate engine choice that gives you 450 hp, maintaining plenty of pulling power while saving a few bucks.
The 24 MXZ can be tailored to your specific use simply by switching props. If slaloming and barefooting are in the mix, choose the Acme 537 prop, which gives you more speed. For all-around skiing, go with the Acme 1579. If massive wave production with a heavy load is the norm, the Acme 1273 will offer better throttle response and out-of-the-hole performance.