Boat Review by: Matt Spencer
In the world of inboard towboats 2016 was definitely the year of the crossover. Versatility was the new name of the game as the big two inboards both released a new line of crossover boats that are able to tackle everything a family can throw at it.
Mastercraft’s pickle forked XT20 is a garage friendly 20 feet long, but don’t let its stature fool you. Videos have surfaced on the Mastercraft website showing the new boat throwing out massive wakeboard wakes, endless waves and a pancake flat slalom wake.
In the ski world, a 3-event athlete would master slalom, trick skiing and ski jumping for distance. But with interest in competition skiing dying out, a new form of 3-event has formed. Wakeboarding, surfing and slaloming is the 3-event for the new millennium. The problem is it’s really hard to find a boat to do all of those things really well, yet Mastercraft claims they have a winner with the new XT line of boats.
Out of 3 new XT boats in the line-up, the XT20 is the only one with a pickle fork bow design. This design is proven to increase space and it brings it in line with the brand’s flagship boat - the X-Star. The bow is quite spacious for this size of boat, has 4 drink holders, 2 speakers and features a curved, rear facing backrest because with the amount that this boat can do, you’ll want to keep your eyes behind it. Storage is maximized up here too as the seats lift up and the backrest on the port side flips up giving you full access to the storage under the port console.
Moving back into the cockpit of the boat, space continues to be maximized with a J-shaped seating arrangement, complete with flip up seats for storage along with space for a dedicated cooler, and storage under the console big enough for wakeboards, wakeskates and smaller surf boards. If you’re just cruising, the rear bench seats have curved back rests for ultimate comfort. If you’re surfing or wakeboarding, the middle part of the bench seat lifts up and flips around to give you a rear facing seat. This isn’t a new design in the wakeboard world, but what I do like is how easily the seat converts. You simply lift the handle found on the top of the seat and the whole thing lifts up and as you pull forward, it falls into place. While converting it, you will notice how well the seat is built, one of the hallmarks of Mastercraft and their dedication to quality. When you sit at the helm of the XT20 you feel like you’re at the command center. From the big touch screen electronics, to the billeted aluminum touches, Mastercraft never overlooks any detail. The helm seat is comfortable and at a great height to give you great sight lines, with the throttle control placed naturally where the right hand would fall.
Forward of that you will find the Gen2 Surf system manual controls. In my opinion Mastercraft has done a very great job laying this out. There are two switches placed in an overhead profile of a boat. You want the bow up or down? Adjust the center switch. You want the wave on one side or the other? Select the bottom switch. Simple as that. For added control there is also the touch screen system found to the right of the steering wheel.
Since this is a crossover style of watersports boat, it doesn’t have to be perfect at one discipline, it just has to do them all well enough to keep you progressing. But it also has to be able to handle the wear and tear that constant traffic to and from the swim platform that comes with water sports and the XT20 certainly can. It has a center walk through over the sun pad that is finished with sea decking so your upholstery won’t take a hit, and it features a small step down onto the swim platform. The platform itself is spacious and tastefully finished with wood. When the boat sits in the water, the platform is right at the water level, and sometimes below it, depending on how much ballast you have in and how many people on board.
Speaking of ballast, the XT20 comes with a wave boosting 1700 pounds of internal hard tank ballast. It features the aforementioned Gen2 Surf system that features a series of tabs allowing you to dial in your surf wave to exactly the way you like it. And for power it features an Ilmor Engine, complete with 5-year warranty, giving you years of worry free boating.
I have been following the introduction of the new XT series from Mastercraft and now that I finally got to see one in person and spend some time on it, I must say I am very impressed. For a while there I was worried that the inboard market was focused on building “bigger” in an almost cold war esq arms race to build the biggest wake machine. But in this case it’s the opposite, they’re trying to pack as much value into an ever popular segment, the 20-foot trailerable crossover style of boat. Because in reality that’s the way families boat. They want to do it all, they wakeboard when it’s calm in the morning, tube when the waters are busy and finish the day with a sunset surf session. And frankly I don’t see any better boat to do it on than the XT20.
|Dry weight:||4,500 lbs||2,041 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||45 US gals||175 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Ilmor|