MasterCraft’s Gen 2 Surf System takes a custom approach to making waves.
MasterCraft’s X25 is the perfect sub-22-foot wake-producing machine for boaters who live on larger lakes and want something most other ski boats can’t provide: a comfortable ride in the chop. For 2014, MasterCraft takes its bestselling boat to a whole new level with its advanced wake-engineering technology.
The big news for MasterCraft this year is the unveiling of a new Gen 2 Surf System that won an NMMA Innovation Award at the Miami Boat Show. I know for a fact the judges were impressed, because I was one of them. What makes the Gen 2 Surf System different from others is that each of the six hulls the new system can be installed on uses a different approach to making waves in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Gen 2 package starts with a different ballast system for each hull. In the case of the X25, that means twin 580-pound ballast tanks in the stern and a 445-pound bow tank on the centerline. Instead of using one-size-fits-all surf tabs, the Surf System uses tailor-made asymmetrical tabs to both shape the wake and counteract any prop torque–related wake interference. The result is one of the longest surf wakes I’ve ever seen, and a long surf wake is especially good for people learning to surf. The Attitude Adjustment Plate also helps to lengthen it. Think this is all hype? Mastercraft is so sure you will like the models equipped with the Gen 2 Surf System (X2, X10, X25, X30, X46, X55) that it will buy the boat back, including tax, if you are not totally satisfied (ends June 30, 2014, and other restrictions apply). Now that’s a pretty bold statement.
Our test boat features an Ilmor 6.0L V-8 that cranks out 382 hp and is one bump up from the standard 320 hp 5.7L model. Ilmor is a relative newcomer to ski-boat power, appearing on American radar screens when it teamed with Honda Performance Racing to become the sole engine supplier for the Indy Racing League from 2006-2011. Its reliability was legendary; for six years running, its engines powered every car in the Indianapolis 500, and during that time there were zero in-race engine failures. In 2004, Ilmor jumped into boat racing with a marinized version of the Dodge Viper 10-cylinder engine. In 2012, MasterCraft went all-in by making Ilmor the sole supplier of its engines. If you are hankering for a taste of one of its more furious powerplants on the X25, MasterCraft offers Ilmor’s 7.4L V-8 that produces 522 hp. There’s also a 6.2L 430 hp model. If you ski in salt water, there are closed-cooled versions for all engines except the 522 hp model.Our test boat features Auto Launch, which automatically deploys the tabs to improve the holeshot considerably. With it engaged, the boat will put the tabs down for a better launch to plane and automatically retract them when you reach your preselected target speed. When you pull back on the billet throttle, the tabs go down to slow the boat down quicker. X-Series boats with the Pro Package have a sensor that monitors the boat’s listing. The boat automatically levels itself by changing the tabs/ballast if a list is detected when it’s running. Without Auto Launch engaged, the X25 reached plane in 2.8 seconds with enough bowrise to make us lose the horizon for a short time. With it engaged, we reached plane in 2.6 seconds with virtually no bowrise. About the only time you won’t use Auto Launch is when you’re wakesurfing. Throttle response is excellent, and the X25’s time to 30 mph was 6.6 seconds, with a top speed of 43.1 mph.
Living up to my nickname of Al Niño — earned because of my penchant for bringing horrible weather with me wherever I go — I brought a chilly wind out of the north on test day, which set 38,000-acre Lake Lanier to rocking. For most ski boats, such conditions would result in a no-go sort of day, but the X25 isn’t your usual flat-bottomed ski boat. Its hull is based on the MasterCraft CSX 220 , a center-console hybrid fishing/wakeboard boat designed for open coastal waterways. Since Lanier was doing its Atlantic Ocean imitation, the X25’s 22-degree deadrise hull came in handy, providing a smooth rise over the steep, choppy waves. This deadrise also helped make waves organically before adding ballast and shaping from its Attitude Adjustment Plate and Surf Tabs. With optional triple tracking fins, the X25 turns well at high speeds, but thanks to the deep-V hull it exhibits a fair amount of lean.
Many wakeboard boats have wakes that flatten out enough at higher speeds to make slalom skiing tenable, but that isn’t the case with the X25. It is a monster wake-producing machine optimized for wakeboarding and wakesurfing. At wakeboarding speeds, the wake has a very vertical lip but a long transition for soft landings. If you want to mellow the lip a bit, just add more weight up front. Among MasterCraft’s lineup, only the XStar has a better all-around wake, but it is far more costly. Despite being just 21 feet, 6 inches long, the X25 is rated for up to 16 people, and with wraparound seating in the cockpit and a wide pickle-fork bow, there’s a place to plop for everyone. I didn’t care for the forward recliners in the bow — they had pronounced protrusions that caught me right at shoulder-blade height. At rest, you can engage a pair of flip-up jumpseats for hanging out back.
Our test boat is equipped with a fiberglass swim platform that has the Waterfall design, so you can slide off the platform without damaging it or your wakeboard. The platform sits really low to the water, probably too low, since anyone boarding with shoes on will likely get them wet. To enter the cockpit, there’s a centerline walkover and a flip-down step to keep dudes and dudettes off your upholstery. Storage capacity is huge, especially on the port side, which has a continuous locker with no bulkheads.
The standard setup is pretty turnkey, with triple ballast tanks, a 4.3-inch display with Zero Off cruise control, a Zero Flex ZFT0 tower, full instrumentation with a depthfinder and a Fusion 4-speaker stereo, to name just a few features. Billet aluminum is everywhere, such as the walkthrough dam, the dash and the glovebox. MasterCraft offers an extensive options list but gives you the chance to bundle the essential goodies with its Pro Package ($10,170), which gives you the ZFT4 Tower with clamping board racks, the Attitude Adjustment Plate (large centerline trim tab), a Murphy 7-inch touchscreen display, tracking fins and a removable ski pylon. Adding the Gen 2 Surf Package to the Pro Package costs $3,450 but is well worth it. And as long as you are bumping up the wake, a sonic attitude improvement with tower speakers and a subwoofer is in order.