Not content to rest on its laurels, Malibu Boats has redesigned its award winning Wakesetter 23 LSV to make the world's all-time best selling tow-boat even better
Tow-boat giant, Malibu Boats, has upgraded its most popular and best selling Wakesetter 23 LSV. For 2018 this pro level wakesurfing and wakeboarding craft is equipped with a deeper hull for more internal storage space and ballast, along with a redesigned interior with the optional new WakeView pull-out bench seat. With these additions and a raft of other improvements, the new Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV is set to retain its position as the world's number one selling performance tow-boat.
In the world of professional tow sport boats there is no bigger name than Malibu. For decades Malibu has been at the fore-front in the design and production of tow boats for pro level wakeboarding, surfing and skiing.
Founded in California in 1982 by a group of water-skiing enthusiasts, Malibu Boats' attention to detail (and dedication to innovation) set it on a path to become the world's top tow-boat manufacturer. Along the way, Malibu has pioneered a range of innovations (the most notable being the Power Wedge hydrofoil and the patented Surf Gate wave maker) to create the ideal wake for boarding and perfect wave for surfing.
The Power Wedge, now in its Mk 2 configuration, is a transom mounted hydrofoil which, when fully deployed, can create up to 450kg of wake creating water displacement. When combined with the water ballast contained in a series of underfloor and stern tanks, the Malibu hull is able generate a big, high volume wake that is ‘tunable’ in size, length and shape from a touch screen display on the dash.
The Surf Gate is a more recent innovation (introduced in 2012) which integrates with the Power Wedge to create a clean, crisp, unbroken wave behind the boat.
With Surf Gate there is a hydraulic trim tab or plate on each side of the Malibu transom. Actuating or deploying one of these tabs creates a large and long wave in the wake on the opposite side of the boat. Cleverly, it does so without upsetting the lateral trim or balance of the boat.
As noted, the size, shape and length of the wave generated can be controlled from the driver's seat. Or the surfer or wake boarder can dial up the perfect wave while on it using the optional Surf Band wrist remote - which for 2018 can also be used to adjust wake tower stereo speaker volume.
MALIBU DOWN UNDER
Malibu Boats is head-quartered in Louden, Tennessee (USA), but has additional manufacturing plants in Merced, California and Albury in NSW, Australia.
The Australia operation was founded in 1994 with the boats initially being produced under licence from Malibu USA. Today, all models sold locally are made in the Albury manufacturing facility by Malibu Boats Australia.
Malibu Boats has dominated the tow-boat sales charts for many years. The company has been successful with a variety of different models, but the clear bestseller, and the world's favourite tow-boat, is the Wakesetter 23 LSV.
There are eight models in the Malibu Wakesetter range, five of which are manufactured locally. The 23 LSV is the most popular on the world stage due to its convenient, not-too-big, not-too-small size and the excellent size and shape of its wake.
The Wakesetter 23 LSV has been in production in Australia since 2008. Along the way it has seen several revisions and upgrades. For 2018, Malibu's bestseller has been tweaked for better performance and a more user-friendly interior layout.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
The Malibu 23 LSV is loaded with standard features and equipment straight out of the box — more than we can list here. Key features include the G3.5 wake tower with board racks and quick release latching system, as well as luxuriously upholstered bow and stern seating areas, an abundance of storage lockers, soft-grip rubber flooring throughout, and a no-rot all-fibreglass construction system.
New 2018 features include a deeper cockpit and transom storage compartments, larger aft facing boarding platform seats, a deeper gear storage tray under the engine cover, transom walk-over pads (to avoid stepping on upholstery) and new L-shaped ballast tanks at the stern to compliment the centre and bow (optional) sub-floor ballast tanks.
The new MaxBallast L-shaped tank system can also be optioned with additional plug and play saddle bag tanks to add ballast weight for increased hull displacement and, ultimately, a bigger wake.
Importantly, ballast tank levels are accurately monitored via Malibu Viper 2 IPS 12" touch screen dash display - which also displays engine data and controls the Power Wedge hydrofoil, Surf Gate, navigation, individual rider pre-sets, and many other of boats systems.
Mechanically, the Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV comes standard with a Ford based 350hp Indmar Monsoon 410 EFI V8 inboard engine coupled with a V-drive propulsion system.
Packaged with this entry engine and a tandem axle painted 3000kg rated trailer with electric-hydraulic break-away brakes, the Gold Coast's JSW Powersports has the Wakesetter 23 LSV priced from $122K.
Our test boat was set-up with most of the options available for the Wakesetter 23 LSV to showcase and demonstrate its full capabilities. These included the aforementioned Power Wedge, Surf Gate and the WakeView pull-out observer seat.
Helm and command centre options included the heated, power-lift helm chair, rear view mirror, Wideview rear facing camera, Sport Dash analogue rotary joystick control (with phone holder) and the Command Steering Wheel -- both of which can be used to control the Power Wedge, Surf Gate, boat speed and stereo systems.
More general options and additions include the transom saddle bag ballast tanks, surf bimini (above the Illusion G3.5 wake tower), hot water shower, stereo and speaker upgrades, heater, upgraded clamping tower board racks, multiple metallic gelcoat hull colours, dual batteries, underwater, tower and deck LED lighting, saltwater anodes, trailer upgrades and more.
The test boat was also fitted with the second of two additional engine options, the more powerful 400hp Indmar Monsoon 450 EFI V8 inboard engine with the ‘salt pack’ for use in coastal waters. It also featured a stainless steel exhaust surf pipe (to quieten exhaust noise at low surfing speeds) and a high torque propeller to cater for surfing and wakeboarding with a full load onboard.
While the fuel-injected V8 models are more than sufficient for most applications, for ultimate power and performance some buyers might consider the premium 530hp Indmar Monsoon 575 supercharged V8 inboard engine.
As it stood, our Monsoon 450 engined and fully optioned 23 LSV test boat package was priced at just over $200,000 (see below).
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
The Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV is a big, wide beam (2.6m) bowrider trailerboat with sleek external styling and a spacious, luxuriously appointed interior which, Malibu says, can accommodate up to 15 people. Accordingly, the boat has lots of well upholstered seats and deep storage areas.
Starting at the bow, there is a large sun-pad/seating compartment which can cater for two or three adults or even a bunch of kids.
The test boat's dual batteries were situated beneath the lift-out bow centre seat cushion, along with the bow ballast tank which stretches forward to the stem.
Moving aft there is a centre opening, walk-through windscreen with wind shelter board, driver's command centre with tilt-adjust steering wheel, side-mount throttle lever, and touch screen multi-function dash displays.
The heated, electrically height adjustable (optional) driver's seat is very comfortable and it slides fore and aft so you can position yourself perfectly before the steering wheel and controls.
Visibility forward is very good and the dash displays are easy to read and use in direct sun light.
From the helm the primary Viper 2 IPS touch screen display is a short stretch away so you can easily deploy and control the Power Wedge and Surf Gate. The 12-inch display also allows you to monitor speed, RPM, oil pressure, engine temperature and fuel capacity.
These functions can also be controlled by the optional Sport Dash analogue rotary joystick control and from the buttons in the centre of the Command Steering wheel.
Do you need these latter two options? Probably not as you can control all the functions and boat operating systems using the primary Viper display in conjunction with the smaller 7" Touch Command auxiliary display, which sits alongside it to the right of the steering wheel.
Having noted the above, when the boat is underway with a surfer or boarder out back it is easier to switch the Surf Gate from one side to the other, and to make small, incremental changes to boat speed and to the Power Wedge, by using the optional rotary joystick control.
So to answer our own question, we would tick the option box for the joystick control, but forego the Command Steering wheel.
The rear of the Wakesetter 23 LSV is set-up for maximum crew and passenger comfort. Prominent features include the soft-grip rubber flooring, aft sun-pad over the engine well and the full wrap-around perimeter seating - which includes the optional new transom pull-out WakeView observer seat.
Other features include the under-seat storage areas, a lift-out ice cooler, multiple cup/drink holders, rear boarding platform and more.
ON THE WATER
The Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV is available with two different hull configurations: the Wake Plus hull; and the Diamond hull. The latter is for cross-over tow sport applications encompassing a mix of slalom water skiing, wake boarding and surfing.
In contrast, the Wake Plus hull is specifically designed for wake and wave creation. You can trim the hull and the wake out nicely for social skiing (and run to a top speed of 32kt/59km/h with the Monsoon 450 V8) but for tournament level skiing there are better options within the Malibu range.
For large, customisable waves and wakes for surfing and wakeboarding, however, the Wakesetter 23 LSV coupled with the Wake Plus hull is the weapon of choice. It is bettered only by the larger 25 LSV.
The Wake Plus hull has a sharp entry shape at the bow moderating to a shallow vee angle aft for stability. Dual Gorilla fins amidships assist with straight line tracking and cornering, while short, subtle shaped chines at the transom allow for increased hull displacement for a larger wake.
To demonstrate the Wakesetter 23 LSV's wave surfing and wakeboarding capabilities, we were joined on our boat test by competitive wakeboarder and Malibu's Marketing and Special Events Co-ordinator, Thorry Heaney.
Thorry's preferred boat speed, ballast level, and Power Wedge angle had already been input into the Viper 2 touch screen display so readying the boat up for Thorry's perfect wave height, angle and length required just one touch of the pre-set button.
With the boat now squatting down nicely at the stern and ticking along at around 10kt, Thorry stepped out off the rear boarding platform and spent the next few minutes carving up the stunning looking wave created on the left hand wake.
After a few minutes, we switched the created wave over to the other side by deploying the port side Surf Gate tab before retracting the Surf Gate all together (it operates only in a speed window between 6-11.2kt) and setting the boat up for a few wakeboarding runs with Thorry performing a series of high flying tricks at a pre-set boat speed of 19kt.
Throughout all of these manoeuvres, the Wakesetter 23 LSV sat rock solid in the water, pumping out large, customisable waves and wakes at the touch of a few buttons.
Finally, it was time to retract all the wave-making gear and head back to the boat ramp.
To do this you can simply press the "Go Home" tab on the Viper 2 display and then let the boat's electronic systems do their thing - simultaneously retracting the Power Wedge and Surf Gate (if deployed) and emptying the water ballast tanks.
The whole process takes just a few moments. It doesn't get any easier than that.
With its all encompassing boat range there is a Malibu model to suit every pro and recreational tow sports activity. For wakeboarding and surfing, the pick of the Malibu range is the Wakesetter 23 LSV.
There is a reason the 23 LSV is the world's best selling tow boat. At 7.0m in length it is manageable in size for towing, stowing and launching, and yet it is easily set up to create big wakes and waves tailored to suit beginners through to pro level wakeboarders and surfers.
The Malibu 23 LSV is much more than a high-end tow-boat too. It is also a practical and functional family social boat with ample seating, storage and amenities for a comfortable, fun-filled day out on the water.
PERFORMANCE - SPEED
3.6kts (6.7km/h) @ 1000rpm
4.8kts (8.9km/h) @ 1500rpm
6.1kts (11.3km/h) @ 2000rpm
7.0kts (12.9km/h) @ 2500rpm
9.0kts (16.6km/h) @ 3000rpm
17.7kts (32.7km/h) @ 3500rpm
22.5kts (41.6km/h) @ 4000rpm
26.2kts (48.5km/h) @ 4500rpm
29.3kts (54.2km/h) @ 5000rpm
32.0kts (59.2km/h) @ 5500rpm (WOT)
Specifications: Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV
Price as tested: $200,635.40 with an Indmar Monsoon 450 EFI V8 close-cooled inboard engine coupled with a V-drive propulsion system and an upgraded tandem axle painted 3000kg rated trailer with electric-hydraulic break-away brakes. Key fitted options include the Power Wedge 2, Surf Gate, WakeView pull-out observer seat, power-lift helm chair, rear view mirror, Wideview rear facing camera, Sport Dash analogue rotary joystick control (with phone holder) Command Steering Wheel, saddle bag ballast tanks, surf bimini, hot water shower, stereo and speaker upgrades, upgraded clamping tower board racks, multiple metallic gelcoat hull colours, dual batteries, underwater, tower and deck LED lighting, saltwater anodes, and more (check with dealer).
Priced from: $122,000 (ex. Gold Coast) including a Indmar Monsoon 410 EFI V8 inboard engine coupled with a V-drive propulsion system, a tandem axle painted 3000kg rated trailer with electric-hydraulic break-away brakes.
Length overall: 7.01m
Hull length: 5.2m
Dry weight: 2,268kg
Weight on trailer: Approx 3,000kg
Ballast standard: 608kg
Ballast maximum: 1,923kg
Maximum power: 530hp
Engine as tested: Indmar Monsoon 450 (400hp) EFI V8 inboard
Fuel capacity: 246L
Maximum persons: Fifteen