Captain's ReportAdjustable FunMalibu’s newest cross-trainer, the Wakesetter 21 XTi, combines the performance and handling of a straight-drive inboard with a practical seating arrangement and sunpad typically found only on V-drive boats. Malibu’s patented “Wedge” and MLS system, standard equipment on all Wakesetters, allows for incremental adjustment of the boat’s wake to match the varying skill level of riders. Add one of six engine packages and a wakeboard tower and she becomes an extraordinarily versatile tow boat.
The centerpiece of the boat’s interior, the sunpad, is located oddly enough, in the center of the boat. I say “oddly enough” because a sunpad is characteristically seen at the stern of a V-drive boat, above the engine. A straight-drive inboard engine is traditionally covered by a fiberglass or upholstered island in the center of the cockpit with room to walk along either side, but with no inherent value to the passengers. The Wakesetter instead utilizes a peninsula extending out from the starboard side of the boat just aft of the helm seat. This unique feature covers the engine and a huge storage compartment with a large sunpad, and creates a wrap-around lounge aft of the peninsula.
The wrap-around lounge, which will easily accommodate four to five adults, includes an entertainment center, 27 quart cooler, and conveniently placed grab-rails and drink holders. A removable table installs easily for refreshments or stows quickly when its time for serious action. A filler cushion would have been a nice option here, although a filler is provided for the forward seating area, turning the bow into a cozy place to lounge in the sun. The helm seat slides forward and back like an automobile seat, and even includes an adjustable lumbar support. A flip-up seat bottom acts as a booster seat when a higher vantage point is required for docking or close quarter maneuvering. The helm includes full engine instrumentation, a speedometer, and air and water temperature gauges. Our test boat also featured the Perfect Pass cruise control system which enables the helmsman to dial in the desired speed or engine RPM and return to that setting instantaneously.
On the port side adjacent to the helm, the rear facing observers’ seat is wide enough for two or three passengers and opens to reveal a gigantic storage area under the seat and forward under the console. This compartment is designed to store several wakeboards out of the way when other activities take precedence. Additional storage is located beneath the seats throughout, in a large net under the port gunnel, and in a locking glove box behind the windshield on the port side.
While the layout is impressive, the wake is what Wakesetters are all about. Malibu’s “Wedge,” a patented system for increasing the boat’s wake is standard equipment on Wakesetters, and available on all of their hulls. The Wedge is essentially an aluminum “wing” mounted on a retractable bracket under the swim platform. The bracket extends several inches beneath the bottom of the boat, positioning the wing in clean water under the boat. This “reverse-hydrofoil” has an eight-degree down angle that pulls the stern into the water. All Wakesetters are also equipped with MLS (Malibu Launch System), a ballast tank system that pumps in 550 pounds of water into the bow of the boat for even larger, rounder wakes. Between the two systems, wake size can be tailored to suite skiers, novice and intermediate wakeboarders, or expert riders.
The wedge system is well constructed. The anodized aluminum wing is attached to Nibral struts and mounted to an aluminum bracket on the transom. During our testing I found the Wedge difficult to retract; accomplished by reaching one hand through a hatch in the swim platform, releasing the spring-loaded stainless steel locking pins, and pulling the assembly up until it locked automatically beneath the swim platform. Deploying the Wedge proved a bit more difficult. On our test boat, the mechanism would not automatically lock in the down position. I had to reach both arms through a relatively small opening and fumble with the locking pins while pushing the mechanism in place. After a little practice, I was able to accomplish this in just a few seconds, but a larger hatch in the swim platform and/or a self-locking design for securing the struts in the down position would make this inventive system a bit easier to use.
All three of the Malibu’s I tested performed impeccably, but the straight drive inboard boats, the Wakesetter and a Response LXi, were noticeably sweeter than the boat with V-drive propulsion. With the weight of the engine amidships the straight drive boats planed off effortlessly, remaining remarkably level through their entire speed range. No trim tabs necessary on these boats! I was thoroughly impressed with the ride, performance, and handling of the Wakesetter 21, which was equipped with Malibu’s 335 horsepower Monsoon engine and rack and pinion steering. It was quite evident that the company’s designers strive for perfection.
Malibu’s Wakesetter series has proven to be a popular design. With an inventive layout and painstaking design and craftsmanship, I can see why. Now with two sizes to choose from, the Wakesetter’s popularity should continue to grow.
- Captain Vince Daniello
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Malibu Wakesetter 21 XTi is 44.1 mph (71 kph), burning 20.4 gallons per hour (gph) or 77.21 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Malibu Wakesetter 21 XTi is 27.1 mph (43.6 kph), and the boat gets 4.37 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.86 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 146 miles (234.96 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 325-hp Malibu Monsoon EFI.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!